Archive for December, 2008

Monty and Me

What Pet Parents Should Know About Bloat

I have five rescued pets:  three dogs (Monty, Libby, and Dudley) and two cats (Wisco and Elliott).  I was mom to the furry kids long before the human variety came along.  In relative terms, I think I’m a pretty good pet parent…I’ve rallied for beginner and intermediate obedience classes, we were playgroup “regulars” at Elaine’s Pet Resorts and I know a fair deal (most of it experiential) about pet health and oddball skin, gum, and joint diseases.  Until recently, however, I knew nothing about bloat.

Bloat (or gastric dilatation), as it turns out, is a fairly common and dangerous condition in which the stomach becomes filled with air, putting pressure on the surrounding organs.  When it strikes it is sudden, scary, and often fatal.  It is the condition that twice-plagued Marley of Marley and Me fame.

Bloat is more serious if the distended stomach rotates (gastric dilatation and volvulus), trapping air and cutting off the blood supply to the other organs.  Bloat can be fatal in a matter of hours and has a mortality rate of 20 to 40 percent in treated animals.  The average cost to treat bloat is at least $1500.

Certain dog breeds:  Akita, Bloodhound, Collie, Great Dane, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Saint Bernard, Standard Poodle, German Shepherd, Weimaraner, are more susceptible.  In addition to breed, dietary and other factors can contribute to bloat:  increasing age, eating one meal a day, eating dry dog food exclusively, fearful or worried temperament, and gulping or eating food too quickly.

According to Doctors Foster and Smith and,  signs of bloat include:  abdominal distension, non-productive vomiting, restlessness, rapid, shallow breathing, and profuse salivation.  If you suspect bloat, take your dog to the vet immediately.

EatBetter and DrinkBetter BowlsReduce the likelihood of bloat by:  feeding two to three small meals a day rather than one large one, limiting activity before and after meals, avoiding stress, feeding a combination of wet and dry food, and slowing down eating and drinking with special bowls.

Two of my dogs are predominantly German Shepherd and one is a major chow hound.  I’ve slowed his eating with an EatBetter Bowl (although he still makes an end run for the bowls of the other two) and I’ve switched them all to two, small meals a day.  More importantly, I’ve learned what I can about this condition and plan to discuss it with my vet during our next visit.

– Tracey Robertson

December 23, 2008 at 6:52 pm 2 comments

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