Bloat is a life threatening condition that normally appears in older dogs, age 7 or more. Any dog can have bloat, but it is more common in purebred dogs than mixed breed dogs and Setters are one breed of hunting dog that are most susceptible to bloat. Bloat is also called gastric torsion. It presents with an expansion of the stomach. The dog will not be able to pass food through his intestines as it will be difficult for the food to get into the digestive tract. Nor will the dog be able to vomit. The stomach will not be allowed to empty, thereby cutting off the circulation as the exits and entrances to the stomach will be closed off. This can lead very rapidly to shock and death.
It is necessary for any dog owner to recognize the signs of bloat and treat it immediately as it can quickly cause the death of the dog. Dogs that are not eating, have distended stomachs and are not having a bowel movement should be taken to the vet as soon as possible if bloat is suspected. This condition can be alleviated, but it requires immediate care.
There have been various studies as to what causes bloat. Feeding habits have been studied but indicate that dogs that are fed once a day are at no more risk for bloat than those who are fed twice a day. One study indicated that nervous dogs are more at a risk for bloat than other dogs because they tend to ingest more air. Dogs that are nervous or skittish are 12 times likelier to have bloat than other dogs.
Stress is also a risk factor for bloat. One way to alleviate this problem is to try to make things less stressful for your dog. Those that are kenneled, have limited exercise and are boarded often are more likely to develop bloat than other dogs. One way to make decrease the risk of bloat in your dog is to make sure that he gets the right amount of exercise.
Warning signs of bloat include the dog not being able to get up, whining because of stomach discomfort and trying to vomit without any results. You may at this time notice the abdominal distention. It cannot be said enough that this is an emergency situation and you should seek emergency vet care.
There are preventative measures you can take to avoid bloat. Do not exercise your dog immediately before or after feeding to avoid bloat. Make sure that your dog has a quiet place to eat so that they do not gulp down their food. This is especially important if you have more than one dog in the house.
Many vets believe that two smaller meals a day are better than one big meal a day for dogs and this can also prevent bloat. You should also make sure that you feed your dog the same food. If you have to change his diet, you should do so slowly. Sudden changes to his diet are never good for the dog.
After some excitement, do not allow your dog to drink water. This can also play havoc with his stomach. Allow your dog to calm down before offering water. You should try to make sure that your dog is calm before and after eating to avoid this disease.
Above all, stay in routine with your dog, especially when it comes to eating and exercising. Dogs thrive on routine and can get stressed when this routine is broken. If you have to send your dog to a kennel to board, make sure that the kennel is one that will comply with your routine with regards to exercise and feeding.