On our travels in the Greater LA area we encounter all types of pet owners and the living situations, social interactions and environmental hazards. It goes without saying that clinical practice is limited by what is told to them by the owner in the clean, shiny exam room. I find that by visiting the home of the patient I gain an insight to the general attitude that the human caretaker possesses toward their pet(s).
The many types of owners span the full spectrum of caring and animal husbandry practices from complete and criminal neglect to extreme overbearing obsession with every move and breath made by their beloved pet. The latter caretaker is usually armed with a list of web-based pet “knowledge” that not only confuses them but gives the veterinarian an educational hill to climb. Unfortunately, all too often the type of caretaker encountered is the family who loves their pets, but is not in tune with their health condition. Many of these pet lovers enjoy having a herd of animals living in their menagerie and tend to address problems that are obvious.
The Large Breed dog, particularly Great Danes, Bloodhound, Irish Wolfhound, Irish Setter, Akita, Standard Poodle, German Shepherd Dog, Boxer, Golden Retrievers, Labs, German Shepherd, Doberman, Great Pyranees, St Bernard, Newfoundland, Saluki, Greyhound, Rhodesian Ridgeback and other deep-chested breeds are prone to Gastric Dilatation and/or Volvulus AKA “Bloat”.
From the research performed to date, we can list several factors that, added together, can characterize the typical dog that develops bloat: a deep and narrow chest; leanness; a relative that has had a bloat episode; eating quickly; a dry-food diet; a single, large daily meal; stress; and a fearful, nervous, or aggressive temperament. Theories that exercise before and after eating have not been shown to be the case. Also feeding from elevated position also does not reduce the incidence.
Prevention: Check the family history of bloat. Feed canned food divided throughout the day. Socialize your dog as much as possible. If there is a family history, you may request a preventative procedure at the time of spay or neuter called a gastropexy.
Signs to watch: Vomiting (or not) with unsuccessful retching (or not). Lethargy, sudden enlargement of the abdomen. Rapid breathing, pale gums. Transport the dog immediately to the nearest veterinary facility or if not possible, call us for an Emergency Housecall!