With the weather becoming warmer and people seeing a rise in incidences of bloat. I would like to share with you the information I have from my experiences in working in emergency veterinary clinics. First off, I am not a veterinarian, I am a veterinary technician who specializes in the anesthesia of critical patients. I have been involved both as an anesthesia tech, and a surgeons assistant in hundreds of bloat cases, and had the privilege to work along side of an emergency vet in my area who has been doing bloat surgeries since the late 70’s. He is the surgeon that would be called in for bloat surgeries any time of day or night. I have learned alot from him, and as the information on bloat continues to change, we share notes and ideas. So I would like to share this information with you:
Bloat also known as GDV is a veterinary emergency. There are 2 forms of bloat. There is the kind where the stomach fills up with excess gas and expands the abdomen. If corrected quickly with medicines and passing a gastric tube to release the pressure, it can prevent it from becoming the second type, the most dangerous. The second type of bloat happens either immediately or is a progression from the first type, where the stomach fills up with excess gas, expands, then twists around itself. This is called gastric torsion. When the stomach twists it cuts off blood circulation to major organs such as the kidneys, spleen, and heart. Within minutes the organs and intestines begin to die. Emergency surgery to un-twist the stomach must be performed immediately. In a dog that has been bloated even for half an hour, organ failure is more than a potential. A lot of times when the surgery is performed, the surgeon will have to resect portions of the bowel that have become blackened or necrotic, also organ removal, such as a spleenectomy are often needed. The dog can live without its spleen, but cannot live without a healthy heart and kidneys. If surgery is delayed, and organ failure has begun, even if the dog makes it through the surgery, the major organs may not be able to recover. The dog may die within a few days from organ system failure. Gastric torsion is a severe emergency and should be treated as such. If you notice any signs of either form of bloat, you must take your dog to the vet immediately for either medicinal or surgical intervention.
Signs to keep an eye out for: Pacing, seeming uncomfortable, whining/crying, attempting to vomit with no production or production of white foam, distended abdomen, tympanic adbomen ( if you tap on it, it will sound hollow), wretching, confusion, disorientation, grey or blue gums, collapse, seizure, death.
If you notice any of these symptoms call your vet right away and head there immediately.
The cause or causes for bloat are still a medical mystery even to doctors and researchers who have been treating and studying it for years. There are some conditions that MAY be causes that I will list here. This is not going to be a 100% complete list. If we don’t know 100% of the causes it is really hard to put them down on paper. From what I have seen in practice and heard from other vets I have compiled the most commonly thought causes.
Commonly thought causes: Reminder these can change at anytime with new research: Eating large amounts, drinking large amounts, exercise immediately after eating or drinking large amounts, the dog having a chest that is deeper than it is wide, eating from raised food bowls (this changed from eating out of lower bowls a few years ago), stress, hot environment, and genetics. Further studies are currently underway so this list might have more added to it at a later time, or again, things may change.
There has been quite the controversy if feeding commercial kibble over raw, is a risk factor. My opinion on the matter is that it does not make a difference. I have seen dogs who eat both types of diets bloat and die.
The best way to prevent bloat is a prophylactic surgery called a gastropexy. In this surgery which is commonly done at the time of spay or neuter, the surgeon will open the abdominal cavity and suture the wall of the stomach to the wall of the abdomen. While nothing in the world is 100% this has proven time and time again to be a very safe, life saving procedure. Having the stomach “tacked” in place gives the owner more time to get to the vet and have the stomach decompressed before torsion can happen. It MAY eliminate torsion in the pet all together, but is not your only line of defense. If your dog has had the gastrpoexy and shows any of the signs listed above, it is still considered an emergency and the pet must be seen immediately.
As owners who love our dogs, we are the best judges when it comes to their health and well being. Keeping a diligent eye on them and responding quickly along with the gastropexy surgery are the best ways to improve your dogs chances when it comes to bloat.
If anyone has anything to add, please feel free to share your comments.
BLOATING AKITA – VIDEO. Warning upsetting footage http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1WrT2719yo