Bloat and Gastric Torsion

What Is Bloat And Gastric Torsion In Dogs?

Bloat and Gastric Torsion in dogs are both life threatening problems which large dog owners should be aware of in order to prevent or even cope with. In some dogs, the stomach can fill up with too much fluid or gas. This is called bloat and if the stomach is extended by the gas then this causes gastric dilation.

As the stomach swells then it can begin to twist, thus trapping any of its contents since the oesophagus and duodenum become closed off as a result. Gastric torsion is where the stomach rotates or twists partially and gastric volvolus is where is rotates completely. Blood vessels become obstructed around the abdominal area and this in turn leads to a low blood pressure. Following this the dog may go into shock and its organs can become damaged. It has been known for bloat to kill an affected dog in little under an hour.

Which Types Of Dogs Are More Prone To Bloat And Gastric Torsion?

Since bloat is caused by too much gas or fluid in the stomach, dogs which swallow air are extremely prone to this problem. Most owners may not even be aware that their dogs do this. Essentially, if dogs gulp down their foods very quickly then they are very likely to be swallowing air as a result. Additionally, those that drink a vast amount of water, especially after a long walk, are at risk of bloat and thus gastric torsion.

Certain breeds of dogs are more likely to having bloat. Dogs that are known as deep-chested are more susceptible to becoming affected with bloat and gastric torsion. These types of dogs include Akitas, Boxers, German Shepherds, Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, Irish Setters, Irish Wolfhounds, Labrador Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, St. Bernards, and Weimaraners. Dogs between the ages of four and seven appear to be more commonly affected.

How Do I Know If My Dog Has Bloat And Gastric Torsion?

Clinical Signs and Symptoms of Bloat and Gastric Torsion in Dogs

There a few clear signs and symptoms which should alert owners that there is something wrong with their dog’s health and that it may be bloat or even gastric torsion. It is vital that owners are aware of these symptoms as the condition is extremely painful and dangerous for the animal and so if identified, then help can be sought.

The signs and symptoms of bloat and gastric torsion may present themselves initially by the dog salivating more than normal as well as it having difficulty breathing. The dog may pant and dry retch. It may not sit or lie down for long periods of time due to the discomfort caused in doing so. As a result the affected dog will pace around the room and appear restless. If the owners feel the dog’s abdomen, they may notice that it is swollen and painful to touch.

Veterinary Diagnosis of Bloat and Gastric Torsion in Dogs

Often if bloat is suspected in dogs, they will be listed as an emergency case and seen to immediately. Once admitted to the vets, the veterinarian will undergo a physical examination of the dog whilst enquiring as to the signs and symptoms observed by the owner. Following this, the diagnosis can include the use of X-ray, Echocardiograms, and blood tests.

What Do I Do If My Dog Has Bloat And Gastric Torsion?

Veterinary Care of Bloat and Gastric Torsion in Dogs

As soon as owners suspect their dog to have bloat or gastric torsion, the vet should be contacted immediately as this is categorised as an emergency case. The dog will be given intra-venous fluids in addition to steroids in order to deal with the condition having led to shock. Following this, a course of antibiotics will be given to fight off any possible bacterial infections. With the aim of suppressing any abnormal beatings of the heart, antiarrythmics will also be administered. 

A stomach tube will then be passed into the stomach so that it can be decompressed or special needles will pierce the skin and muscle to obtain access to the stomach. The contents will then be washed out by a procedure known as a “gastric lavage” if the stomach tube method is used.  Where gastric torsion has occurred, surgery often becomes a necessity to untwist the stomach.

Home Care of Bloat and Gastric Torsion in Dogs

The recovery of a dog which has been affected with bloat or gastric torsion can be very long. Further medication may be needed to be administered after the operation both at home and during the hospitalised stay the dog may require. The dog must be encouraged to eat slowly and in some cases, a new diet may be necessary.

Can Bloat And Gastric Torsion Be Prevented In Dogs?

The costs of some treatments for this condition can vary from around five hundred to one thousand pounds depending on the severity of the problem and the veterinary practice. Needless to say, the condition can prove to be extremely stressful for both pet and owner. Additionally, bloat can actually result in the loss of the affected animal. Therefore, prevention certainly seems to be the most preferable option.

In the breeds previously mentioned to be the most at risk of this problem, special care should be taken. A minimum of two meals should be fed a day, and ideally three. This is because when dogs are left with only one large meal a day, rather than two or three smaller meals, they are more likely to ravenously gulp down their food.

Water intake should also be monitored so that large amounts are not drunk in one go. Additionally, dogs should not be exercised within two hours following feeding. If a dog has been affected with this problem and other members of its family have also been affected, then the dog should not be bred from in the future. This is because it is thought that the condition may be hereditary.


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