According to statistics the second largest killer of dogs today after cancer is something called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus(GDV) or more commonly known as bloat.
What is bloat?
Bloat is what happens when too much air, water or food is swallowed quickly and accumulates in a dogs stomach. The stomach begins to "bloat" and cuts off circulation to blood vessels in the dogs abdomen and can cause damage to internal organs which can quickly kill a dog. In fact one of the factors that makes this condition particularly deadly is the speed at which it develops and can possibly kill a dog if the owner is unaware of the warning signs and the proper measures to take in such an emergency.
What causes bloat?
Bloat has many possible causes of which not all are certain. The best thing to do is to take all preventative measures necessary to reduce the risk. The following are some of the causes believed to be causes of bloat.
Being Deep Chested â€“ Bloat can happen in any dog but seems to be more of a particular concern to deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes, Greyhounds and German Shepherds.
Eating or drinking from an elevated food bowl â€“ Dog's food bowls should always be placed on the ground, elevating a food bowl can effect digestion and be a major cause of bloat
Feeding only once a day â€“ It is believed that dogs digest better and therefore reduce their risk of bloat if they are fed 2 or 3 times daily instead of one larger meal.
Stressful environment around feeding time â€“ This is believed to be a valid contributor to the condition of bloat. A stressful feeding environment can cause the dog to eat at a rapid pace, combined with stress can disrupt digestion and increase the risk
Other factors may include too much exercise surrounding meal time, being older in age, history of bloat in other family members and low quality dog food (especially if an animal fat is listed within the first four ingredients of the food).
How to tell if your dog has bloat?
Depending on the shape of your dogs body you may be able to see or physically see the dogs expanded stomach in the area of the ribs, but the most common tell-tale sign is if the dog is attempting to vomit but nothing comes out. If this is happening and the dog appears to be acting outside of its normal behaviour it is imperative that you get your dog to a veterinarian immediately. This condition acts quickly causing your dog to go into shock and can quickly become life threatening.
Due to the rapid onset of the condition it is best to have the phone number of a 24 hr veterinarian available for easy access.