Is Your Dog at Risk for Bloat?
Understanding Risk Factors for Canine Bloat
Canine bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), is the common cause of death for several large and giant breeds. It is a life-threatening disorder and if left untreated, results in death.
Is your dog at risk?
Questions to Assess a Dog’s Risk Factors for Bloat
Answer the following questions and add the associated points to determine your dogs risks for bloat.
- Does your dog have deep narrow chest confirmation? Is your dog’s chest a lot deeper than it is wide? If so, add 10 points.
- Is your dog a Great Dane, Bloodhound, standard Poodle, Irish Wolfhound, German Shepherd Dog, Irish Setter, Akita, or Boxer. If so, add 7 points. If your dog is a mix of any of these breeds, add 5 points.
- Does your dog weight more than 75 pounds? If yes, add 2 points? Does he weight between 51 and 75 pounds, if yes, add 1 point. If he weights less than 50 pounds, add zero points.
- Is your dog male? If so, add 1 point.
- Is your dog lean, normal or obese? If your dog is lean, add 1 point. If our dog is medium build or obese, add zero points.
- How old is your dog? If your dog is less than 4 years old, add no points. If your dog is 5 – 8 years old, add 1 point. If your dog is more than 8 years old, add 2 points.
- Does your dog have a known relative that had bloat? If yes, add 5 points.
- Does your dog eat fast or slow? If he eats slowly, add zero points, if he eats fast, add 1 point.
- Does your dog eat from an elevated bowl? If yes, add 1 point.
- Does your dog eat a food that contains an oil or fat ingredient, such as sunflower oil or animal fat, listed among the first four ingredients. If yes, add 4 points.
- Can you describe your dog’s personality as nervous, fearful, or aggressive? If so, add 2 points.
- Is your dog stressed e.g. as being boarded on in a kennel? If yes, add 2 points.
- Does your dog only eat one meal a day? If yes, add 1 point. If you feed your dog more than one time per day, add zero points.
- Does your dog only eat dry food? If so, add one point. If he eats a combination of canned and dry or table scraps, add zero points.
Answer to Risk Factor Assessment for Bloat
Add up your points
- Dogs at high risk: 27 – 40 points. Watch your dog carefully for signs of bloat. If you see any signs, please call your veterinarian or local emergency clinic immediately. If your dog has a high score and is a puppy, discuss the pros and cons of performing a prophylactic gastropexy on your dog. If possible, minimize the risk factors. For example, if you feed your dog once daily, consider changing to twice daily feeding. If you use an elevated feeder, remove that unless necessary due to other medical conditions. If you feed dry, discuss other diet options with your veterinarian.
- Dogs at moderate risk: 13 – 26 points. Even though your dog is not in the high-risk category, there are still some substantial risk factors. Watch your dog carefully for signs of bloat. Minimize risk factors if possible.
- Dogs at low risk: 0 – 12 points. Your dog is at low risk of bloat. It is still smart to watch for signs and minimize risk factors.
Conclusion on Risk Factors for Bloat in Dogs
From the research performed to date, we can list several factors that, added together, can characterize the typical dog that develops bloat: a deep and narrow chest; leanness; a relative that has had a bloat episode; eating quickly; a dry-food diet; a single, large daily meal; stress; and a fearful, nervous, or aggressive temperament.