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Torsion or bloat

Bloat is an immediate medical emergency for a dog.

A dog with bloat will first show signs after eating or drinking, which will cause their stomach to swell. After the swelling, the stomach will twist, cutting off the blood supply, and quickly causing tissue death (necrosis). This is a serious and deadly condition and should not be taken lightly and should be attended to with the immediacy of a heart attack.

Bloat is more common in larger dogs; it is less of a concern if you have a medium or smaller sized dog.

We recommend speaking to your vet about a surgical procedure called “tacking” or “gastropexy” at time of neuter or spay. Tacking is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that stiches the stomach to the wall of the abdomen to help prevent twisting.

Signs and symptoms of bloat include:

  • Swollen stomach

  • Restlessness and pacing, with the inability to sit or lay comfortably

  • Non-productive vomiting (trying to vomit but nothing coming up)

  • Heavy panting and breathing

  • Roached back, with the head and tail hanging

Here is a video that shows that bloat can look like in a dog.

Prevention of bloat

  • Do not allow your dog to exercise strenuously an hour before eating. If your dog is still panting from exertion, do not feed her until the panting has ended.

  • Do not allow your dog to exercise strenuously for an hour after eating (two hours for larger dogs or dogs that eat more than 2-3 cups at a meal)

  • Do not allow your dog to quickly drink copious amounts of water after exercising or being in the heat. Give small amounts of water at a time.

  • Do not allow your dog to roll a lot. This includes teaching your dog to “roll over” It’s an adorable trick, but increases the risk of torsion, so we strongly recommend against it.

  • Do not change your dog’s diet quickly or make other dietary changes that might create too much intestinal gas. For some dogs that includes eating gas-producing foods, such as cabbage or beans.

  • We recommend daily use of a gastric supplement, such as Gastro Pro Plus, to help improve digestion for any dog at risk for bloat or torsion.

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