Bloat occurs when the stomach becomes over-distended with gas or food. This can lead to the stomach twisting around on itself – a condition called gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV. This is a rapidly progressive life threatening condition which requires emergency stabilization and surgery to correct. Most commonly, GDV affects large deep chested dogs such as Great Danes, Irish Setters, Newfoundlands, Rottweilers, Akitas, Bloodhounds and German Shepherds but can also affect smaller breeds such as beagles.
What to watch for?
The most common signs are unproductive retching, restlessness and abdominal distention or discomfort. In severe cases the disease can lead to collapse and unresponsiveness.
What to do if you suspect bloat?
It is an emergency. Time is of the essence and your dog should be taken to an emergency veterinarian as soon as possible. Usually a simple abdominal radiograph will confirm or rule out the condition. If GDV is confirmed then the emergency veterinarian will recommend fluid therapy and pain relief to stabilize your pet followed by emergency surgery to correct the malpositioned stomach and to perform a procedure called a gastropexy which reduces the risk of the condition recurring.
What is the prognosis of dogs with GDV?
Prognosis depends on how sick they get. If GDV is treated quickly then there is a good survival rate (>80%). Complications can include stomach necrosis, cardiac arrhythmias, bleeding and sepsis however with prompt emergency care and surgery, most dogs will survive this disease.