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Is it Possible to Prevent Bloat and GDV in My Dog?

Posted August 15, 2014 in Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).

One of the scariest and most life-threatening emergency situations a dog lover can face is the dreaded bloat.

What is bloat?
Bloat is really a misnomer. Bloat by itself is a condition in which the stomach becomes bloated with gas (occasionally liquid, occasionally too much food).  This is very different from another condition where in addition to bloating, the stomach can twist on its own axis. This more serious condition results in a series of complex changes that affect virtually every organ and can cause death. It’s called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), stomach torsion, flipped stomach or twisted stomach. Many people mistakenly call either situation “bloat,” which is often confusing.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that bloat can lead to GDV and vice-versa.

What are risk factors of bloat and GDV?
Factors that increase a dog’s risk of both bloat and GDV include:

  • Being deep chested
  • Exercising after eating
  • Being a large or giant breed dog2 (Great Danes are the number 1 most affected breed)
  • Being a male1
  • Being older3 (over 7 years of age)
  • Having a first-degree relative with bloat3
  • Being underweight1
  • Eating one meal daily1
  • Eating large volumes of food1
  • Eating quickly1
  • Consuming dry food containing fat among the first four ingredients1
  • Being fearful1 (nervous or anxious)

One of the most universally recognized factors known to cause bloat is “stress” in the medical sense of the term1.  That can be almost anything: a dog show, thunder, hospitalization, boarding etc.

Can bloat be prevented?
It’s very difficult to prevent bloat. At best, we can try to decrease the risk by studying the risk factors. 

Here are a few guidelines:

  • Avoid heavy activity after eating
  • Feed your dog several smaller meals during the day
  • Slow down your dog’s eating and make sure fat is not among the first four ingredients in his food

The main factor that seems to decrease the risk of bloat is a "happy" temperament1. You can try to reduce stress and anxiety in your dog, but that is not always easy if your dog is a show dog or if he is terrified of thunder.

Unfortunately, most other factors

Related symptoms: 

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.