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Bloat Prevention in Dogs

Posted by on Oct. 13, 2011 at 12:26 PM
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Bloat is a very serious health risk for many dogs, yet many dog owners know very little about it.  It is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer.  Especially in large and giant bread dogs such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Dobermans and many deep-chested dogs as well.

Avoid highly stressful situations.  If you can't avoid them, try to minimize the stress as much as possible.  Be extra watchful.

Can be brought on by dog shows, mating, whelping, boarding, new dog in household, change in routine, etc.

Do not use an elevated food bowl

Do not exercise for at least an hour (longer if possible) before and especially after eating

Particularly avoid vigorous exercise and don't permit your dog to roll over, which could cause the stomach to twist

Do not permit rapid eating

Feed 2 or 3 meals daily, instead of just one

Do not give water one hour before or after a meal

It dilutes the gastric juices necessary for proper digestion, which leads to gas production.

Always keep a product with simethicone (e.g., Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), Phazyme, Gas-X, etc.) on hand to treat gas symptoms.

Some recommend giving your dog simethicone immediately if your dog burps more than once or shows other signs of gas.

Some report relief of gas symptoms with 1/2 tsp of nutmeg or the homeopathic remedy Nux moschata 30

Allow access to fresh water at all times, except before and after meals

Make meals a peaceful, stress-free time

When switching dog food, do so gradually (allow several weeks)

Do not feed dry food exclusively

Feed a high-protein (>30%) diet, particularly of raw meat

If feeding dry food, avoid foods that contain fat as one of the first four ingredients

If feeding dry foods, avoid foods that contain citric acid

If you must use a dry food containing citric acid, do not pre-moisten the food

If feeding dry food, select one that includes rendered meat meal with bone product among the first four ingredients

Reduce carbohydrates as much as possible (e.g., typical in many commercial dog biscuits)

Feed a high-quality diet

Whole, unprocessed foods are especially beneficial

Feed adequate amount of fiber (for commercial dog food, at least 3.00% crude fiber)

Add an enzyme product to food (e.g., Prozyme)

Include herbs specially mixed for pets that reduce gas (e.g., N.R. Special Blend)

Avoid brewer's yeast, alfalfa, and soybean products

Promote an acidic environment in the intestine

Some recommend 1-2 Tbs of Aloe Vera Gel or 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar given right after each meal

Promote "friendly" bacteria in the intestine, e.g. from yogurt or supplemental acidophilus

Avoids fermentation of carbohydrates, which can cause gas quickly.

This is especially a concern
when antibiotics are given since they tend to reduce levels of "friendly" bacteria.

Don't permit excessive, rapid drinking

Especially a consideration on hot days

by on Oct. 13, 2011 at 12:26 PM
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Hedgewitch
by Group Owner on Oct. 13, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Description or definition:

 

DEADLIEST OF EMERGENCIES: BLOAT KILLS WITH HORRIFYING SPEED

Your Dog's LIFE could be at stake. Be informed. Recognize and act FAST !!!

Bloat is a condition in which there is a rapid accumulation of air in the stomach causing dilatation.(abnormal swelling). Volvulus, or torsion occurs next when the dilated stomach twists, cutting off contact with the esophagus at one end and the small intestine at the other, trapping the air. This very enlarged twisted stomach puts pressure on the blood vessels, twisting them in the abdominal cavity and impairing blood flow back to the heart, which then, without sufficient blood to pump, decreases blood to the rest of the body. Acute onset of death of tissues deprived of oxygen follows , with the stomach wall itself rapidly undergoing necrosis, losing tissue at a frightening rate. The spleen is often twisted with the stomach, and damaged too. About 30% of dogs that develop bloat will die or have to be euthanized. Bloat can occur at any time, not just after eating, and when it happens, it does so swiftly, and if not treated immediately, the dog will probably die.

 

HOW DO I KNOW IF MY DOG HAS BLOAT ???

The dog may have an obviously distended stomach, especially near the last ribs, site of the stomach, but this can be barely evident or grotesquely so, appearing to blow the dogs body up like a football. In either case, when you feel the skin of the stomach it will feel exceedingly tight and hard, like the tautness you'd feel on the skin stretched over a drum. The dog is in terrible pain and may circle around, lie down and get up repeatedly, trying to get comfortable, whining or whimpering, but the biggest clue is the attempted vomiting, gagging, and/or coughing. Although the dog will be highly nauseated, the retching will produce no more than phlegm/saliva, as the dog will probably be profusely salivating.... he can't swallow, and he can't throw up as the stomach is closed off so nothing can come out of it. Anxious behavior such as pacing, licking the air, unproductive attempts to defecate, looking at their side or other signs of abdominal pain or discomfort may occur.  They may refuse to lie down, stand spread-legged, curl up in a ball, or go into a praying or crouched or ‘roached up' position in an attempt at comfort. Drinking excessively, heavy or rapid panting or shallow breathing may be evident. They may even attempt to eat small stones or twigs. Some will seek a hiding place. Advanced stages may show weakness, inability to stand, or standing in a spread-legged stance. The heartbeat accelerates as bloating progresses.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SAVE YOUR DOG'S LIFE?

IF YOU SUSPECT THAT YOUR DOG HAS BLOAT, RUSH IMMEDIATELY TO YOUR VETERINARIAN. SPEED IS OF VITAL IMPORTANCE...Because the rate of stomach tissue death is rapid, and the intense pain associated with it can cause increased heart rhythm, leading to heart failure and shock, treatment must be within one to two hours. There can be no recovery until the stomach is untwisted and the gas released, getting the dog's bloated stomach decompressed and reversing the shock. Perdue research recommends all dogs that bloat have surgery, once stable. Without surgery, the damage done inside cannot be assessed or repaired, plus, bloat may recur at any point, even within the next few hours. Assessment of internal damage is vital to recovery. Any necrotic (dead) stomach tissue must be removed, and the spleen, adjacent to the stomach may have twisted with the stomach and require removal. When this is done, gastropexy, a procedure that tacks the stomach into normal position so that it can't ever twist again is normally done. Without this, the recurrence rate may be as high as 75%. Medication for shock, antibiotics, and electrolytes will be given to help stabilize the patient. 

 

EMERGENCY TREATMENT AND PREPARATION

Plan to be prepared to help improve your dog's chances of survival should bloat occur. Memorize the symptoms and know where your nearest 24 hour emergency veterinary surgery clinic is located. Learn from your local vet whether they have the skill and the facilities to provide surgery for bloat. If they are not able to do so, you may have them teach you how to pass a stomach tube, and insert a trocar (a large hypodermic needle), especially important if you live a long distance from an emergency clinic. The fastest route to an equipped surgical facility should be determined and a trial run practiced. If you have a bloat emergency, phone the facility ahead so they can be ready for immediate treatment upon your arrival. If possible, decompression to alleviate the gas pressure should begin immediately. If your local vet is minutes away, there is no substitute for prompt veterinary decompression of the stomach, but you should learn to perform emergency first aid, as it often occurs in off hours, and you will be racing to the 24 hour clinic, which may be some distance away. Always keep a product with simethicone s on hand (e.g., Mylanta gas, [not regular Mylanta] Gas-X, etc.) If you can reduce or slow the gas, you may buy yourself a little more time to get to the emergency vet. If you live alone, and wouldn't be able to lift your dog into your vehicle alone, ask a friend or neighbor in advance to be willing to assist you, if your dog has become too weak to walk and get themself into the vehicle. Stomach tube kits can be home prepared or are available for purchase. One place to buy one is Natures Farmacy, and you might be able to get your veterinarian to supply a kit or the items necessary to make your own. Instructions to make your own can be found at: http://kifka.com/Elektrik/BloatFirstAid.htm . Remember, this is FIRST AID, and NOT A TREATMENT for bloat. Discuss the procedure with your veterinarian, and try to have them show you by practicing passing the tube on your dog with their supervision, so you feel confident if you ever have to do it. If the stomach is already twisted, the tube to relieve the trapped air will not pass into the stomach, and a trocar should be inserted into the side of the distended abdomen to allow the air to escape. There will be a hissing sound as the air is released. Owners who fear they will injure their dog or cause it to bleed by inserting the large trocar needle needn't let that prevent this procedure. Even if the owner did do some damage, the dog almost certainly would die anyway without emergency decompression of the bloating abdomen. They will not bleed to death from the trocar puncturing the dilated abdomen. 

 

RISK FACTORS AND PREVENTION

Bloat is the second leading cause of death in large and giant breeds after cancer. Deep chested, (as opposed to wide) narrow and deep abdomens show higher incidence rates of bloat. Thin or underweight dogs are at higher risk than overweight dogs and older dogs more than young ones, but not exclusively. History of aggression, fearful or anxious temperaments are believed to be factors increasing risk, as does having a first degree relative with history of bloat. In breeds that are high risk, some experts recommend having a preventative gastropexy performed instead of waiting for an episode of bloat, as 70% of bloat cases occur late at night or early in the morning, and not be noticed until it is already becoming dangerously progressed. Rapid eating habits, eating only dry food, and eating one single large meal, as opposed to two or more small meals a day were associated with higher incidences of bloat, and raised food and water bowls increase the risk more than 100%. The higher the bowls are raised, the higher the risk becomes. Dry foods containing citric acid,(as a preservative, especially if moistened), gas producing ingredients, (soybean products, brewers yeast, alfalfa), or fat among the first four ingredients contribute to the risk of bloat. There are mixed opinions as to whether exercise or drinking lots of water directly before or after eating are a factor, as most dogs that bloat do so in the middle of the night with an empty gas filled stomach. The drinking of water or eating too quickly and gulping air, and exercise especially AFTER eating would be more probable behaviors inducing an episode of bloat, and avoided just to be on the safe side. A dry food containing a rendered meat-and-bone meal decreased risk by 53 percent, and mixing table or canned food with dry food was found to decrease the risk. As for feeding one large meal a day, this can weigh down the stomach and stretch the hepatogastric ligament, which usually maintains the stomach's normal position in the abdomen. It is thought that chronic stretching from heavier meals and aging of this ligament leaves a dog in more danger of the deadly torsion that can follow episodes of bloat. Thus, the link between feeding multiple meals and a lower incidence of bloat may be related to less distension of the stomach with smaller meals. Stress is believed to also cause dogs to gulp air while eating, so dogs with happy go lucky temperaments are less at risk. A European study by F.J. VanSluijs and W.T.C. Wolvekamp found that the vast majority of dogs that have repeated episodes of bloat have defects in their swallowing mechanism, in that when they swallow food, it doesn't flow as it should from the mouth to the stomach, so in order to get the food to flow, the dogs gulp air to force it down. If rapid eating is the cause of gulping air, there are methods used to slow down the speed of eating. One strategy was to place an object the dog has to eat around, a favored item being a heavy chain with big links, that can't just be pushed aside, forcing the dog to eat around and under it. If a dog is especially fearful or anxious, drug therapy may be warranted in some instances when behavior modification has been unsuccessful. 

 

Certain breeds are known to be of high risk, the number one being the Great Dane. Others, but not all include the St Bernard, Weimeraner, Irish Wolfhound, Irish Setter, Bloodhound, Akita, Standard Poodle, Collie, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, GSD, Borzoi and other sight hounds. Small breeds are not commonly affected, but not exempt from risk. Pekinese, Basset Hounds, and Dachshunds are among higher risk breeds. Not all dogs fitting the high risk profile will necessarily bloat, and a dog with none of the high risk characteristics can fall victim to this traumatic condition, as we personally have experienced. In order to decrease your dogs danger, some suggestions are as follows:

****Be prepared with stomach tube kit and trocar in case bloat occurs

****Feed two or more small meals as opposed to one large meal per day

****Include some canned dog food and/or table scraps if you feed dry dog food

****Avoid citric acid and avoid fat in the first four ingredients if feeding dry food

****Prevent rapid eating or rapid drinking water which can cause gulping air

****Avoid brewers yeast, alfalfa, and soybean products

****Look for rendered meat meal with bone product in the first four ingredients, and reduce consumption of carbohydrates, (found in many commercial dog biscuits)

****Feed a high quality diet with adequate protein and fiber, (READ INGREDIENTS!)

****Allow access to fresh water at all times, but limit it just before and after meals

****DO NOT USE ELEVATED FOOD BOWLS

****When switching food, do so gradually, mixing old with new

****ALWAYS KEEP a SIMETHICONE product on hand

****Avoid or minimize stress for your dog as much as possible

****Don't exercise your dog an hour before or after eating, or allow rolling around

****BE WATCHFUL...KNOW YOUR DOG...so you notice anything "just not right" about his/her behavior, and don't hesitate to seek veterinary advice if any doubt exists. 

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