Canine Bloat is a serious medical condition of dogs. It is more properly termed gastric dilatation-Volvulus complex, as this describes the course of events. Almost every breed of dog has been affected by GVD, but the condition is seen more commonly in large, deep-chested breeds, such as the Great Dane. The exact cause of GVD has not been determined with any certainty. Dogs that eat rapidly and then are allowed to exercise afterward may be at increased risk. Apparently the heavy, food-filled stomach can act like a pendulum, swinging back and forth until it twists on itself.
Composition of the diet thus far, does not seem to be a factor, nor does it seem to matter whether the dog eats dry or canned food. Major studies are being done at this time to try and determine causes of this condition.
Whatever the inciting cause, affected dogs all show similar signs. Initially they are anxious, restless, not interested in food or water; they may vomit once or twice and then follow this with retching and gagging motions which are usually unproductive. After 30-60 minutes the dog begins to appear swollen in it's midsection due to the accumulation of gas in the stomach. The dog will begin to pant heavily and breathing becomes rapid and shallow.
In most cases of GVD, the stomach undergoes a Volvulus or "twist". This closes both the oesophagus and pylorus, preventing the dog from relieving the gas pressure. The condition is rapidly fatal, causing shock, coma and death within a very short time. Diagnosis is relatively easy based on breed, history and clinical signs. Your veterinarian may take x-rays to confirm the diagnosis. GVD is a true life-threatening emergency. If you suspect your dog may be showing signs, take your dog to your vet or emergency clinic without delay.
Treatment is aimed at reducing the gas pressure and returning the stomach to its normal position. Your vet will remove pressure via a stomach tube or trochiar through the stomach wall. They will then prepare the dog for exploratory surgery to find the exact problem and correct it. Usually the surgeon will perform a gastropexy at this time to prevent recurrence.
Death loss due to GVD is very high for several reasons. Often the owner delays in presenting the dog because they are unaware of the seriousness of the condition. Also, once the stomach has undergone Volvulus, many metabolic poisons build up in the body resulting in damage to the heart muscle, stomach wall, liver and spleen. Frequently these poisons will cause the heart to stop during surgery or they may circulate for several days post-operatively and continue to pose a threat.
Many veterinarians suggest that a preventative gastropexy be done. A circumcostal gastropexy - considered to be the most effective, - involves taking a section of the stomach wall, guiding it around one of the ribs, and reattaching it to the stomach wall. This prevents the stomach from twisting. This surgery can be done in conjunction with a spay.
Feed small amounts of food 2 -3 times a day
Do not let the dog exercise one hour before and two hours after eating
Do not let the dog drink large amounts of water after eating
Add an enzyme product to food
Keep simethicone (e. g. Gas-X) on hand to treat gas symptoms
Know emergency clinics in your area should the need arise
Consider preventative gastropexy