Tis’ the season for overeating  We all do it! While feeling a little bloated after indulging too much makes us uncomfortable for a few more hours, it can be much more serious for our 4-legged babies. Bloat or Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) is a very complicated and emergency situation. It can be challenging to recognize, could be fatal, should be treated quickly.  
Symptoms:

Dogs start by coughing, soon they are dry heaving, and unable to vomit. They become nauseous and drool more than normal. Soon they become restless due to their painfully distended abdomen. Their extreme discomfort may cause an irregular heartbeat. Without treatment blood pressure will drop and they will experience shock, and sadly death.

Treatment:

Stabilizing the patient by relieving abdominal pressure, treating shock, and intravenous fluid therapy.

This may include a tube for relief to allow gas to escape. If the stomach is twisted a bore needle will need to be placed into the abdominal wall, once the pressure is released a tube may pass to relieve pressure quickly. Simultaneously, fluids are administered to regulate blood pressure and heart rate.

Diagnoses:
Once the patient is stabilized, the veterinarian will begin running several tests. Including x-ray, ECG, blood work, and monitoring. Usually, bloat is diagnosed with an x-ray.

Once a diagnosis is made treatment and care options are evaluated.

Surgery:

This is nearly inevitable. Their stomach and spleen will need to be cleared, repositioned, and examined for damaged tissue. If tissue is damaged, it will likely be removed to prevent a life-threatening infection from settling. Finally, the doctor will perform a “gastropexy,” tacking the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent the rotation from occurring again.

Risk:

Large to giant breed dogs are most susceptible, but more specifically if they have a large barrel/deep and narrow chest. (i.e. Great Danes, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners, and more…). Their chances increase as they get older too. It usually runs in families, and if it happens once, it will happen again if surgery wasn’t performed.

Prevention:

– Feed wet food.

– Provide access to water all day.

– NO Exercise within an hour of eating before/after.

– Slow feed bowl.

– Eating 2 – 5 times a day.

– If panting, wait for them to calm, or pace their feeding.