What do I need to know about bloat?

Even when your dog is in perfect health, there are still things that can go wrong over the course of its life. One of the most serious conditions you should familiarize yourself with is a life-threatening issue called gastric volvulus — or more commonly, bloat.

Here are some facts about bloat excerpted from WebMD.

Bloat is a life-threatening emergency that affects dogs in the prime of life. The mortality rate for gastric volvulus approaches 50 percent. Early recognition and treatment are the keys to survival.

Anatomy of Bloat: Bloat actually refers to two conditions. The first is gastric dilatation, in which the stomach distends with gas and fluid. The second is volvulus, in which the distended stomach rotates on its long axis. The spleen is attached to the wall of the stomach, and therefore rotates with the stomach.

Bloat can occur in any dog at any age, but typically occurs in middle-aged to older dogs. There may be a familial association. Large-breed dogs with deep chests are anatomically predisposed. These breeds include the Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog, St. Bernard, Labrador Retriever, Irish Wolfhound, Great Pyrenees, Boxer, Weimaraner, Old English Sheepdog, Irish Setter, Collie, Bloodhound, and Standard Poodle. Chinese Shar-Pei and Basset Hounds have the highest incidence among midsize dogs. Small dogs are rarely affected, with the exception of Dachshunds, who are also deep-chested.

Current and potential owners should note the presence of the Standard Poodle on the list of predisposed breeds. Those who have them, or have full-size Poodle mixes such as Labradoodles and Goldendoodles, should definitely familiarize themselves with the recommended steps for reducing the risk of bloat and the early warning signs of dogs who are experiencing it. This information and more can be found in the full WebMD article linked above.

In closing, don’t let this blog post scare you. Creating fear or worry is not our intent — and, let’s face it, won’t help anything anyway. This is simply a call to educate yourself so that you’re better able to protect your beloved canine companions going forward.