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Bloat & Torsion
Bloat and Torsion are the biggest killers of large breed dogs, and yet they are the most unknown by even many veterinarians.
Canine Bloat (Gastric Dilation-Volvulus or GDV) is an acute disease or digestive problem believed to be caused by excessive swallowing of air while eating; gastrointestinal secretions; and gas from food fermenting in the stomach.
Bloat and Torsion are life threatening emergencies. Some symptoms may be: anxiety, evidence of abdominal fullness after meals, heavy salivating, whining, pacing, getting up and lying down, stretching, looking at the abdomen, unproductive attempts to vomit, labored breathing, disinterest in food, and stilted gait. Severe symptoms, such as dark red, gray, or white gums, a rapid heartbeat, and a weak pulse are normally followed by prostration and death.
Learn the natural color of your dog's gums and their recovery rate from compression. To do this, press on the gums firmly with your finger and then let go. The color should return immediately. If the color returns slowly or not at all, you have an emergency and must seek veterinary help ASAP.
PHASE 1 SYMPTOMS: Pacing, restlessness, panting and salivating. There may be unproductive attempts to vomit (every 10-20 minutes), and the abdomen appears full and/or enlarging.
PHASE 2 SYMPTOMS: Very restless, whining, pacing continuously, heavy salivating, unproductive attempts to vomit (every 2-3 minutes), dark red gums, high heart rate (80-100 bpm), abdomen is enlarged and tight and emits a hollow should when thumped.
PHASE 3 SYMPTOMS: Gums are white or blue, dog is unable to stand or has legs spread, shaky stance, abdomen is very enlarged, heart rate is extremely high (100 bpm or higher) and pulse is weak.
As you can tell, each phase is getting worse. However, remember that no matter which phase your dog is in, the best and only way to save your beloved pet is to rush him or her to the nearest competent veterinarian. It's always better to have a false alarm than a dead Dane.
Remember also that you know your dog better than any veterinarian. If the vet is unsure, have an x-ray taken. If the x-ray shows you are right, surgery should follow immediately. There is no time to waste, and the sooner the operation, the better the survival rate.
Veterinarians continue to study the bloat problem and still have many questions which need answers. Below is a list of suggestions to help prevent bloat.
1) Feed 2 or 3 times daily, rather than once, and always when someone can watch the dog after he/she has eaten.
2) Avoid exercise, excitement and stress for 1 hour before and 2 hours after eating.
3) Feed dogs individually and in a quiet location.
4) Make diet changes gradually over a 3 to 5 day period.
5) Make sure water is available, but limited, after eating and exercise.
6) Watch for any actions or behavior that may signal abdominal discomfort.
7) Establish a good relationship with a veterinarian, discussing emergency procedures. Always have a back up veterinarian.
8) When in doubt, give us a call. We have been wrong only a couple of times. One dog died. The owner felt we were wrong and didn't go to the vet until the next day and then it was too late.
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