Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus or common name BLOAT

There are many injuries and physical disorders which represent life-threatening emergencies d this is one that is sometimes overshadowed.. You must react quickly !

In the bloated stomach, gas and/or food stretches the stomach many times its normal size, causing tremendous abdominal pain. For reasons we do not fully understand, this grossly distended stomach has a tendency to rotate, thus twisting off not only its own blood supply but the only exit routes for the gas inside. Not only is this condition extremely painful but it is also rapidly life-threatening. A dog with a bloated, twisted stomach will die in pain in a matter of hours unless drastic steps are taken.

Classically, this condition affects dog breeds which are said to be "deep chested," meaning the length of their chest from backbone to sternum is relatively long while the chest width from right to left is narrow. But please remember, any dog can bloat, even Golden Retrievers

WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR DEVELOPING BLOAT?

Classically also, the dog had eaten a large meal and exercised heavily shortly thereafter. Still, we usually do not know why a given dog bloats on an individual basis. No specific diet or dietary ingredient has been proven to be associated with bloat. Some factors found to increase and decrease the risk of bloat are listed below:

Factors Increasing the Risk of Bloating

Factors Decreasing the Risk of Bloat

Contrary to popular belief, the presence of cereal ingredients such as soy, wheat or corn in the first four ingredients of the ingredient list does not increase the risk of bloat.

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR DOG HAS BLOATED

The dog may have an obviously distended stomach especially near the ribs but this is not always evident depending on the dog's body configuration.

The biggest clue is the vomiting: the pet appears highly nauseated and is retching but little is coming up.

If this is seen, rush your dog to the veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

WHAT HAS TO BE DONE

There are several steps to saving a bloated dogs life. Part of the problem is that all steps should be done at the same time and as quickly as possible.

FIRST: THE STOMACH MUST BE DECOMPRESSED

The huge stomach is by now pressing on the major blood vessels carrying blood back to the heart. This stops normal circulation and sends the dog into shock. Making matters worse, the stomach tissue is dying because it is stretched too tightly to allow blood circulation through it. There can be no recovery until the stomach is untwisted and the gas released. A stomach tube and stomach pump are generally used for this but sometime surgery is needed to achieve stomach decompression.

ALSO FIRST: RAPID IV FLUIDS MUST BE GIVEN TO REVERSE THE SHOCK

ALSO FIRST: THE HEART RHYTHM IS ASSESSED AND STABILIZED

SURGERY

After the expense and effort of the stomach decompression, it is tempting to forgo the further expense of surgery. However, consider that the next time your dog bloats, you may not be there to catch it in time and, according the study described below, without surgery there is a 24% mortality rate and a 76% chance of re-bloating at some point. The best choice is to finish the treatment that has been started and have the abdomen explored. If the stomach can be surgically tacked into place, recurrence rate drops to 6%.

In is crucially important that the owners of dogs be aware of this condition and prepared for it. Know where to take your dog during overnight or Sunday hours for emergency care. Avoid exercising your dog after a large meal. Know what to watch for. Enjoy the special friendship a dog provides but at the same time be aware of the dog's special needs and concerns.

This article is reprinted with permission from the Mar Vista Animal\Medical Center