Stomach Torsion is a very serious condition for all dogs yet few people are aware of the dangers. The word “bloat” to refer to a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary care known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), gastric torsion and twisted stomach. This condition can cause rapid clinical signs and death in several hours. Even with immediate treatment, approximately 25% to 40% of dogs die from this medical emergency. While any dog from a chihuahua to a great dane can bloat, larger breeds and those with deep chests are at greater risk. The most important thing is if you suspect your pet of bloating is to seek veterinary care ASAP but educate yourself before you suspect a problem and be prepared just in case. Attached to this post is a downloadable “quick reference” guide to GDV for you to print and keep on hand.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), often referred to as “bloat” or gastric torsion,” is a serious condition caused by abnormal dilatation and twisting of the stomach. The condition is initiated by abnormal accumulation of air, fluid or foam in the stomach (gastric dilatation). Bloating of the stomach is often related to swallowed air, although food and fluid also can be present. Bloat can occur with or without volvulus, or twisting. As the stomach enlarges, it may rotate 90 degrees to 360 degrees, twisting between its fixed attachments at the esophagus (food tube) and at the duodenum in the upper intestine.

Symptoms can vary but generally include:
Distended abdomen
Unsuccessful attempts to belch or vomit
Retching without producing anything
Excessive salivation
Shortness of breath
Cold body temperature
Pale gums
Rapid heartbeat

If you believe your dog is suffering from bloat, bring your dog to a veterinarian immediately. Timeliness of treatment is paramount, since a dog exhibiting signs of bloat may actually have GDV, which is fatal if not promptly treated. If you do not already know, now is a good time to take note of the closest Emergency Clinic for when your regular Veterinarian is closed.

There are many ways to cut down the chances of this happening to your dog, including the following:
Feed your dog several small meals a day, instead of one large one.
Crate your dog or ensure that the dog’s activity is restricted for at least 60-90 minutes following each meal.
Put a couple of simethicone tablets in your dogs food with each meal. This is the active anti-gas ingredient in Maalox anti-gas, DiGel, and Phazyme. Walmart sells a generic anti-gas tablet that is straight simethicone (80 mg), (I think it’s just called Anti-Gas or Gas). This will cut the cost drastically because 1 of these equals 3 Maalox tabs.
Feeding a dry food containing a calcium-rich meat meal (such as meat/lamb meal, fish meal, chicken by-product meal, meat meal, or bone meal) listed in the first four ingredients of the ingredient list.
Feeding larger size kibble

Two other things that surprised me in my current research. First has to do with gastroplexy. I have not personally been a fan except in dogs with a history. Dogs who have had episodes of GDV are at risk for further occurrences. A surgery can be performed to attach the outside lining of the stomach to the body wall (gastropexy). While this doesn’t completely prevent the stomach from rotating, it does lower the risk. Some advocate having this surgery performed routinely on high-risk breeds, but personally I disagree. Even in breeds that are prone to bloat most will never have this happen, and I don’t think the benefits of the procedure (since it’s not a guarantee that it will never happen) outweigh the risks.

The second has to do with raised feeding. School of thought for years was that feeding should be done at just shoulder height to aid in digestion. Now several studies indicate that raised feeding does not aid in preventing bloat and in some cases may contribute. Please be sure to consult your veterinarian and do your own research to decide what is best for your pet.

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