Most commonly seen in deep-chested dogs, Gastric Torsion (or Bloat) is a very serious condition which can be fatal.

Bloat is caused by too much gas or fluid in the stomach. This gas can extend the stomach causing gastric dilation. If the stomach partially rotates its called gastric torsion. If it fully rotates its called gastric volvolus. Each can be a life threatening problem.

– Dogs with bloat nearly always are between four and seven years of age. Two-thirds are males.
– It is more common in deep-chested dogs and rarely occurs in small breeds.
– Dogs who bloat tend to eat large quantities of dry kibble.
– They exercise vigorously after eating and tend to drink water in large amounts after meals.
– They may have a history of digestive upsets (gastritis).

Treatment consists of draining the stomach through a tube and surgery to relieve the torsion and gain circulation back to the small intestine and stomach. The stomach can then be “fastened” into place to help prevent this from occuring again. Prevention is better than cure in this instance and you can prevent this from happening by feeding your dog smaller meals more often thoughout the day (stay away from one big meal a day) and wet the dry kibble with water. Keep the dog quiet for about two hours after a meal and restrict its access to water straight after eating.

The signs are excessive salivation and drooling, extreme restlessness, attempts to vomit and defecate, evidence of abdominal pain (the dog whines and groans when you push on the stomach wall) and abdominal distention. Its important to know the history of the dog. Has it eaten recently? Drunk water? Has it been running or exercising within 2-3 hours of eating?

If the dog is able to burp or vomit you can usually rest assured that the gut is not twisted. This can be treated at home. Give Mylanta by mouth. Dosage for a small dog is 6 ounces; Medium dog is 8 ounces; large dog 12 ounces. Make sure you walk the dog after giving the Mylanta until the bloat is relieved or until you can contact a veterinarian. If the bloat is relieved at home, it would still be a good idea to contact your vet to let them know the dog bloated. IF YOU ARE UNSURE, RUSH THIS DOG TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY. THIS COULD BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH FOR YOUR DOG. Once a dog bloats, it will usually bloat again in the future.

(Except from Dr. Carlson & Dr. Giffin’s book “Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook” is available through Amazon Online.)