Gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), known as bloat or torsion, occurs in dogs when the stomach enlarges and twists into an abnormal position. GDV is a serious, life-threatening condition that requires emergency treatment. Without prompt medical attention, dogs with bloat can die very quickly; about 30% of dogs that suffer bloat die from it.
Which Dogs get Bloat?
Dogs & bitches are affected equally. Deep-chested dogs seem to be at more risk. Many Newfoundlands die from this condition and at any age, especially (anecdotally) after 11pm at night.
Liverpool University did some extensive research and came to no conclusion.
Food does not seem to be a factor, but stress & large intakes of water could be. Eating from a raised bowl could also be a factor. (In the wild, dogs mainly lie down to eat). Having a first degree relative who has suffered bloat.
The earlier this is recognised and veterinary help obtained, the better.
First the dog will be restless. It may attempt to vomit every 10-15 minutes, with no relief, or a white frothy saliva may be seen.
The stomach may be distended.
The dog will then start salivating , whining & panting and shock will develop.
TAKE THE DOG TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY! This is a medical emergency and should be treated NOW.
The vet will first try and alleviate pressure build-up in the stomach and may treat the shock.
Surgery may then be affected to untwist the stomach. Often the vet will staple the stomach to the cavity wall to help prevent future twisting. Parts of the stomach may have to be removed if blood has been prevented from reaching them and has begun to die. The spleen may also be removed.
Surgery is not always successful.
Arrhythmias (irregular heartbeat) due to the decreased blood flow back to the heart.
Postoperative gastric ulceration, open sores on the mucous membrane of the stomach caused by accumulated gastric juices (Gastric ulcers may occur—usually within 5 to 7 days following surgery—and may rupture, causing septic peritonitis, an infection and inflammation of the peritoneum, the membrane that lines the abdomen.)
Recurrence of gastric dilatation
The risk of bloat can be reduced in the following ways:
Eating small portions throughout the day (especially important for large, deep-chested dogs)
Not breeding dogs with a family history of GDV
Surgically "stapling" the dog's stomach to the inner abdominal wall (gastropexy) to prevent twisting
Waiting 1 to 2 hours after eating before exercising (especially important for large, deep-chested dogs)
Prevention measures are in no way guaranteed.
Without prompt medical attention, bloat can cause death. Death can occur even after treatment; the prognosis depends on the dog's condition during and after the surgery. The more time that passes from the onset of symptoms to the initiation of treatment, the worse the prognosis. Dogs that require removal of part of the stomach have a decreased chance of survival. Dogs that recover well 7 days after surgery have a very good chance of survival.
Recurrences are common, especially in dogs that do not undergo stomach stapling. As many as 80% of all dogs that don't have stomach stapling suffer recurrences, compared to 3% to 5% of dogs that do.