Bloat (Gastric Dilatation Volvulus)

Overview

Bloat, known medically as ‘Gastric Dilatation Volvulus’, is renowned Worldwide as the ‘Mother of all emergencies’ and it gets that stigma for good reason. When it comes to bloat in UK dogs then every second counts when dealing with identification, response and treatment.

In the cases of bloat where a dog suffers from sudden and severe stomach gasses – getting your beloved puppy to the vet is a race against time that no UK dog owner wants to experience. 

This is because the dog’s blood vessels are twisting and denying the supply of blood to the dog’s stomach. This will lead to a release of a whole cocktail of deadly toxins into the stomach and surrounding area. These toxins will cause stomach death which no dog of any breed can survive.

Bloat is a scary condition that the scientific community is unfortunately still trying to find the causes for. Whilst we have a good understanding when it comes to treatment, the rapid nature of the health condition means that until we can fully understand the causes it will remain a concern for all dog owners.

Symptoms

Symptoms of bloat in dogs are, as you might have expected, relatively obvious and stomach related.

Many dogs will exhibit a noticeable size increase around their stomach as the gasses that are building pushes their stomach out. This leads most dogs to a loss of appetite, depression and visible discomfort.

Whilst these symptoms are obvious for smaller dogs it can be difficult to spot the same trend when it comes to larger dogs. Whilst larger dogs are also likely to exhibit behavioural changes it is important for all dog owners to be very aware of their dog’s appetite.

An x-ray and bloodwork are necessary should any dog owner suspect bloat with most UK veterinarians able to diagnose within hours of first investigations. 

Affected Breeds

According to studies in the veterinarian field relating to dog bloat, any size dog is susceptible to contracting the condition at any point in their life.

With that being said, dogs that typically have a bodyweight of over 45KG are up to 25% more likely to suffer from bloat at some point in their life. This makes the condition a particular concern for dog owners of larger breed dogs.

Dog breeds that are in the higher risk category include:

Whilst all of the dog breeds listed above have a higher risk of bloat, many small dogs across the United Kingdom suffer from the condition every day.

The rates of bloat in smaller dogs lines up directly with the popularity of that breed in the UK. This means it is very difficult to pinpoint any smaller breeds as being more susceptible than any other.

Treatment

As mentioned a few times above, treatment of bloat is incredibly time sensitive. This is why UK veterinarians will always handle bloat cases as an emergency with diagnosis and treatment fast tracked where possible.

The priority when it comes to treating bloat in dogs is to counteract the shock to the dog, relieve the gasses that are building in the stomach and to stabilise the heart where necessary.

In the vast majority of cases that are caught in time, this treatment will be enough to delay the bloating issue and inevitably save your dog’s life. This initial treatment isn’t the cure though and surgery in 95% cases will be necessary immediately after the dog has been stabilised and gasses released.

The surgical process will normally entail the veterinarian manually untangling the stomach and removing all toxins and gases that have built up. In cases where parts of the stomach have died due to the response time of treatment, the stomach and/or spleen may need to be sectioned or removed.

Any of the stomach that remains will normally then be attached directly to the stomach wall which can in most cases stop the stomach from twisting again in the future.

Most dogs who undergo this treatment in the UK will normally be kept under medical supervision for around one week to ensure that more toxins are not continuing to circulate. Unfortunately it is all too common for many dogs to succumb to the condition even after surgery and most dogs who do overcome it have around a 75% chance of suffering from bloat again in their life.

Treatment Cost

The cost of a bloat emergency leads many owners to opt for euthanasia. In one study, 15% of dogs were euthanized due to cost concerns to bloat veterinary bills.

Anywhere from £2,500 to £7,500 is required to treat bloat in the UK. And sadly, there are never any guarantees to the success of treatment ahead of time.

Prevention

Although we don’t understand what causes UK dogs to bloat, as we outlined above, we do understand that bloat cases are higher in dogs who follow certain patterns.

It is with that in mind that preventive measures include:

  • Ensure multiple meals per day
  • Stopping dogs from eating too quickly.
  • Ensuring dogs are fully hydrated
  • Checking for history of bloat in the dog’s bloodline

Whilst these may seem like standard guidelines for any UK dog owner, the prevention of bloat is a relatively unknown beast in itself.

Further Reading

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