Bloat: Danger Will Robinson! Danger!
Bloat: a life-threatening condition in which the stomach fills with air, which is called dilatation, and then it might twist upon itself, which is called volvulus. This leads to the veterinary term, Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, or GDV.
|Veterinary Medical Center of Long Island|
Your pet's abdomen may or may not have a bloated appearance. Signs of bloat can also include:
- frequent retching (attempts to vomit)
- pacing, can’t seem to get comfortable, anxious
- or lethargic
What to Do:
Go to a veterinary hospital or emergency facility immediately!
What NOT to Do:
Do not give anything by mouth or try to induce vomiting.
What happens to your dog in GDV:
The condition is commonly associated with large meals and causes the stomach to dilate because of expansion of the food and the production of gas and may get to a point where neither may be expelled. As the stomach begins to dilate and rotate, the pressure in the stomach begins to increase and several severe consequences, including preventing adequate blood return to the heart from the abdomen, loss of blood flow to the lining of the stomach, and rupture of the stomach wall can occur. As the stomach expands, it may also put pressure on the diaphragm preventing the lungs from adequately expanding, which leads to decreased ability to maintain normal breathing.
While the stomach is twisted, changes occur in blood levels of oxygen leading to cell death in other organs. Cardiac arrhythmias (abnormal heart beats) are commonly seen because of the hypoxia (low oxygen). Additionally, the lining of the entire gastrointestinal tract is at risk of cell death and sloughing. As the condition progresses, toxins may be increasing the cells of the stomach and when gastric dilatation is relieved these may circulate through the body resulting in additional heart arrhythmias, acute kidney failure, and liver failure. Bacteria also get into the blood during this condition leading to sepsis.
|Ohio State University|
No one entity has been shown to prevent this disease process. There is a lot of debate over risk factors that contribute to bloat. However, feeding smaller more frequent meals, and making sure fat is not in the top 4 ingredients in your pet’s diet are proven to reduce the risk of bloat.
Elevated feeding bowls may actually increase the risk of GDV in some patients. Elevated citric acid in the diet may increase risk, but bone and meat meal in the top 4 ingredients appear to reduce the risk. It appears that dogs who eat rapidly, eat one large meal a day, consume a large volume of water, or exercise soon after a meal also have increased risk.
In breeds with a high risk of bloat, there is a preventive surgery called a prophylactic gastropexy that can often be performed when the dog is being spayed or neutered, or while young if the pet is going to be bred. Most police and military service dogs have this procedure performed at a young age to protect them. Gastropexy involves surgically attaching the stomach to the wall of the abdomen to prevent rotation.
Other risk factors:
Discontinuing breeding animals with a family history of GDV may potentially decrease the risk of GDV. Male dogs are almost twice as likely to develop gastric dilatation and volvulus as females. Neutering and spaying does not appear to have an effect on the risk of bloat. Dogs over 7 years of age are more than twice as likely to develop gastric dilatation and volvulus as those who are 2-4 years of age.
The five breeds at greatest risk are Great Danes, Weimaraners, St. Bernards, Gordon Setters, and Irish Setters. In fact, the lifetime risk for a Great Dane to develop bloat has been estimated to be close to 37 percent! Standard Poodles are also at risk for this health problem, as are Irish Wolfhound, Doberman Pinschers, Rottweilers and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Basset Hounds have the greatest risk for dogs less than 50 lbs.
What the surgeon does to fix this when it occurs:
The pet will be put on IV fluids and oxygen, and attempts to decompress the stomach will be tried. We try to put a tube down into the stomach to relieve pressure, and if that cannot be done successfully, we will pass a needle into the stomach from the outside to release air. Sometimes this then lets us pass a stomach tube as well. Then as soon as the pet is as stable as we can make it for surgery, it is off to surgery where the surgeon will determine if the stomach and spleen (which often gets entrapped in the rotating process and damaged) are viable. The surgeon will de-rotate the stomach, remove any dead portions of the stomach, and possibly remove the spleen, and do a gastropexy to attempt to prevent this from happening again in the future. After surgery, complications can include the organ failure listed above, but again, the survival rate is much better nowadays with quick surgical intervention. Survival rates used to be less than 10% a few decades ago, but now is 60-80% depending on how much damage occurs during the progression of the disease. So get that bloated dog to a hospital ASAP!
BLOG WRITTEN BY:
Dr. Dana Lewis
Dr. Dana assists families with Pet Hospice and Euthanasia in the Raleigh North Carolina area (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and the greater Triangle, as well as Wake, Durham, Orange, and Chatham counties.)
Blog posted by:
Vet Mary Gardner
Vet Mary Gardner