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Is Your Dog at Risk for This Deadly Condition?

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Did you know that "bloat" is a deadly condition? It's true. And some breeds and body types have a higher risk for the disease, although it can occur in almost any dog.

The medical term for bloat is "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus", also known as GDV or gastric torsion. It is a condition caused by abnormal dilatation and twisting of the stomach. "Bloat" is the result of an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid or foam in the stomach (gastric dilatation).

I mentioned that I have been spending some time in veterinary emergency rooms and bloat is a common condition seen in the ER. The other night I was at the clinic and a dog was brought in with bloat. "Barney" was a 9-year-old mixed breed dog (mostly Irish setter from what I could tell). He was a sweet dog and you could immediately tell he was suffering. He was pacing and restless. You could tell that he was in a lot of pain and he kept trying to vomit. When the stomach is twisted, dogs "try" to vomit but they can't.

Bloat is a life-threatening disorder and, if left untreated, it results in death. In fact, it is the number one cause of death for several large and giant breeds.

Is your dog at risk?

Dr. Larry Glickman, an epidemiologist at the Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, conducted a study on canine bloat. His study followed more than 1,900 dogs to help identify risk factors for this disease. Here's what the study showed.

  • Dogs with the greatest risk of developing bloat have deep, narrow chests.
  • The risk of bloat is slightly higher in males than in females.
  • Lean dogs were found to be at higher risk for developing bloat than overweight dogs.
  • Older dogs are at a higher risk than younger dogs.
  • Heredity is also an issue. If your dog's relatives have developed bloat, he also has a higher risk of developing the disease.
  • Fast eaters are at higher risk for developing bloat. Many believe this is because the dog swallows more air when eating quickly.
  • Elevated food bowls have also been shown to increase the risk of bloat.
  • Dogs with nervous, fearful or aggressive personalities have a higher incidence of bloat.
  • Stress, such as that which occurs during kenneling, is an important precipitating factor.
  • Dogs that are fed only dry food and dogs that eat only one large daily meal are at a higher risk for bloat.
  • Dogs that eat foods high in oil or fat (such as sunflower oil or animal fat) have a higher risk of developing the disease. (If the oil or fat is listed as one of the top four ingredients in the food, it is considered a high-fat food.)
  • Most cases of bloat have been found to occur after 6 PM.

    Most people don't think their dog will experience a problem like bloat. But most of those people are wrong. I've seen hundreds if not thousands of dogs suffering with bloat and everyone is surprised.

    If you want to do the best for your dog, make sure you are prepared for the unexpected. If your dog shows any signs of bloat, consider it a true emergency and see your veterinarian immediately.

    Another frustrating thing about this deadly condition is that it comes on quickly and is immediately life threatening. Bloat commonly causes pet owners to quickly make life-altering decisions for their dogs.

    Until next time,

    Dr. Debra


    P.S. - Bloat is also one of the most expensive conditions to treat. According to an emergency clinic in Columbus, Ohio the average cost for treatment of bloat is $2,468.00. This is an expensive disease to treat. But the good news is, bloat treatment is covered by most pet insurance policies. If your pet had this type of emergency, could you afford to cover it out of pocket? In a case like this, pet insurance could actually save your dog's life. Have you looked into pet insurance yet? If not, take a minute to find out if pet insurance
    is right for you.


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