Image: Sonia Zjawinski
Last year my dog Lulu suffered from bloat. This scary medical condition, which can be fatal, is caused when too much air is ingested when eating or drinking water. All that air then leads to trapped gas that expands more and more until it starts to cut off circulation to vital organs. There are many ways to avoid this painful condition, here are some tips.
Breeds that are most at risk of suffering from bloat are those with a deep and narrow chest, such as Great Danes, Weimaraners, and even Rottweillers — Lulu was half Rottie.
Stress and age are also risk factors, as well as medications that cause dehydration, leading dogs to drink more water than usual. This was the case with Lulu, who was on medication for her osteosarcoma. I'm not going to get into the specifics, but you can read more about our experience with bloat here.
So, how do you avoid bloat?
Small Meals: Like with us humans, it's much healthier (and safer) to eat several small meals a day, rather than one supersized meal.
Limit Kibble: While the dry stuff is much less expensive and easier to dole out than canned food, eating kibble causes dogs to swallow more air than normal. Combine the amount that kibble expands in the stomach (just put water in a bowl of dry food and see for yourself) it can be a deadly combination. If you must feed kibble, do so in small amounts throughout the day.
Slow Down: If your dog likes to gulp down his food, don't let them. By giving small amounts multiple times a day, you'll slow down your dog's intake of food. If you can't be around to give more than two meals a day, then break up the gulping by taking the food away after every few bites.
Take a Break: Don't feed your pup and then take him out running in the park. A full stomach and a strenuous gallop will only lead to vomiting, or worse, bloat. Wait at least one hour before exercising your pup.
Hold the Water: Don't allow excess water slurping before or after
a meal. Tons of water delays gastric breakdown of food and can
Signs of Bloat via Veterinary Secrets
- Restlessness and acting very uncomfortable.
- Frequent attempts to vomit; only foam or mucous comes up.
- Pale or off-color gums
- Coughing and unproductive gagging
- Heavy salivating or drooling
- Difficulty standing
- Weak pulse
If your dog is having any of these symptoms go to your vet ER as soon as you can.
As with all pet health advice we give on Pawesome, please note that we are not veterinarians. Although we try to offer the most accurate information on a given topic, we are not medical experts. We strongly urge you to see a veterinarian if you think your pet has a health concern.