Health Topics

Gastric Torsion – otherwise known as Bloat or GDV

Bloat is otherwise known as Gastric Torsion or GDV-Gastric Distortion -Volvulous

This is a condition which can be, and usually is, fatal within (literally) a few hours or can even be shorter timescale than this. If you suspect bloat at any time of the day get in touch with your vet before it is too late. You have a real and serious emergency life threatening situation where every second counts. All dogs particularly larger and deep bodied breeds as well as other animals can develop it usually in the hours after feeding. Many Bernese owners feed adults 2 smaller meals a day rather than one large one and do not exercise within 1 hour before and 2 hours after feeding to reduce the risk of this occurring.

A dog experiencing bloat will appear uncomfortable and unsettled and will be in a lot of pain. He/she may be panting, belching, (or trying to belch) salivating or trying to swallow, there may be signs of trying to vomit or actual vomiting. You may be able to feel or see hardness and/or swelling in the abdomen and a typical position adopted by the suffering dog is the dropped down front “praying” position, as if attempting to stretch the stomach. Some stay in one spot and stress pant due to the discomfort, others may walk about or alternate between the two. The state of restlessness will be a constant and any combination of these symptoms should give cause for urgent and serious concern.

If you have any suspicion of bloat consult your vet immediately whatever time of day or night it is and tell them you suspect bloat. If it is bloat in the middle of the night then “tomorrow morning” will certainly be too late and lots of dogs experiencing bloat are sadly found deceased in the morning by their owners.

It is usually confirmed by a quick X Ray and, only if you are in time, cured by an emergency operation or very occasionally in milder cases by pushing a tube down into the stomach to release the pressure. Whilst feeding is thought to be implicated some feel stress is also involved sometimes so be a little more aware if your dog is having a change of routine it may not be entirely happy with. It can happen to any dog any time so don’t be complacent and think your dog is healthy so “whatever it is it can’t be much”.

We cannot say too strongly or too often IF YOU SUSPECT BLOAT CONTACT YOUR VET IMMEDIATELY, whatever time of day or night.

The following are links to a couple of sites giving more information on this significant killer condition but a quick search on the web (e.g. “Bloat in Dogs”) will produce lots of information for you to read through. There are several references to bloat being the second biggest killer of dogs so be forewarned and forearmed with knowledge of what to look for and how quickly you need to act.