Last night, we lost one of our canine friends. Barbie came to us from Labrador Rescuers, a group that saved her from an unknown fate. When they broke her out of doggy jail, they realized she suffered from a bad case of separation anxiety so they called The Collared Scholar for help. Barbie joined us for some rehabilitation and confidence boosting.
Last night, Barbie started displaying some abnormal behaviors that led us to believe she was suffering from a condition called Bloat. We rushed her to the emergency clinic where the grim diagnosis was confirmed. Bloat is a condition where the stomach fills with gas and becomes incredibly painful. In some cases, the stomach can torsion, in essence flipping over and cutting off blood supply to vital organs. Bloat and Gastrointestinal Torsion primarily affects deep chested dogs. Predominant breeds are Rottweilers, Great Danes, German Shepherds, Dobermans, Labs, Basset Hounds and Pit Bulls among others.
We have had experience with the disease in the past as our Great Dane suffered a bad case of bloat and torsion several years back. When the stomach torsions, surgery is typically the only option. Our dane was saved by the surgeons at the Animal ER in La Mesa, CA. Very sadly, Barbie was not able to be saved.
What You Need to Know About GDV
The technical name for Bloat is “Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus” (“GDV”). When bloat happens, you must seek veterinarian care immediately as it can be fatal and can progress to life threatening in less than an hour. Time is of the essence when dealing with the condition. In dealing with the condition twice now, I’ve noticed the same symptoms pop up consistently.
- Bloated, Hard Abdomen
- Excessive Salivation
- Dog finds it uncomfortable to lay down. If they do lay down, will arch their back and assume the “Sphinx” position
- Several unproductive attempts at vomitting – wretching, gagging
Other symptoms have also been noted including coughing, whining, pacing, licking the air, drinking excessively and shallow breathing.
There are articles abound regarding prevention of bloat in dogs. The most common tips at prevention are:
- Feed several small meals
- Wet the food with water prior to feeding
- Restrict exercise before and after feeding
I can also tell you from experience that in both cases of bloat, we did everything right – followed the prevention guidelines to the letter. In Barbie’s case, the vet suspects the condition was triggered by the stress of a change in environment coupled with a change in diet. This a great reason to provide your pet’s food if you plan to put them in boarding. In Kira, my great dane’s case, the vet had no idea what may have triggered the condition.
After my experiences, my thought on bloat is this – no one really understands why it happens. I believe there to be a genetic component to the disease. Sure, there are the dogs who break into a bag of treats and devour the entire thing, leaving a food bolus that torsions the stomach. But in many cases, owners are prepared and follow the rules and GDV still rears its ugly head.
Words of Wisdom on GDV
From experience, my words of wisdom regarding GDV are this:
- Know the symptoms and if you suspect GDV, seek veterinary care IMMEDIATELY
- Know the closest emergency vet hospital and keep the number on hand
- Follow the prevention guidelines but understand they are not fool proof
Bloat, or GDV is a very serious, life threatening condition that claims the lives of more of our canine friends each year than most other ailments, second only to cancer. Being educated and keeping your cool in an emergency can be the difference between life and death in your canine companion.
Rest in Peace Barbie. Although you only graced our lives for a short while, your presence was unforgettable. Shine your light at the Rainbow Bridge and send our love to all of those four legged family members who crossed far too soon. We miss you. Know you were loved.