So, little Oscar decided to give me a heart attack a few days ago! When I say this dog eats fast, I mean it! He eats as if it is his first, and last, meal. When I walk towards him with his bowl, he wiggles and shifts his weight from right to left foot. The second the bowl is down, food is going flying as he INHALES as fast as possible. It is really quite ridiculous, and I figure it is probably caused from the fear of not getting food, since he was malnourished as a pup?! Anyway, the usual occurred, however this time, he got about half way through and then started behaving oddly. He started walking around in circles, with a strange look on his face, and then all of a sudden foam was pouring out of the sides of his mouth! It was like he needed to throw up, but couldn’t. Of course, I thought his stomach twisted & he was about to die in front of me! Then, ALL of the food came back up. Whew! To say the least, it scared the heck out of me! Can you guess what today’s facts are about?!
2 things can happen to dogs: Bloat and Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV).
-Bloat is when the dog’s stomach fills with air, fluid and/or food. The enlarged stomach puts pressure on other organs, can cause difficulty breathing, and eventually may decrease blood supply to a dog’s vital organs.
-GDV is a life-threatening condition, also known as “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.
*If you suspect your dog has either of these, you should consult a vet immediately. Your dog’s life depends on it!
The info below is for both conditions, as bloat can lead to GDV:
Symptoms: Distended abdomen, unsuccessful attempts to belch or vomit, weakness, excessive salivation, shortness of breath, cold body temperature, pale gums, rapid heartbeat
Causes: The exact cause is unknown, though there are theories that it could be hereditary.
-Risk factors: rapid eating, overeating, overdrinking, heavy exercise after eating, fearful temperament, stress. Deep-chested dogs are at high risk, as well as underweight dogs. Usually bigger dogs are affected, but that is not to say that it doesn’t happen to small dogs.
Specific breeds at risk: Saint Bernards, Akitas, Irish Setters, Boxers, Basset Hounds, Great Danes, Weimaraners and German Shepherds. Dachshunds, who are also deep-chested, are at high risk, as well.
Treatment: Depending on your dog’s condition, a veterinarian may take an X-ray to see the position of the stomach. The vet may try to decompress the stomach and relieve gas and fluid pressure by inserting a tube down the esophagus. If the stomach has rotated, emergency surgery is necessary to correct this.
-Feed your dog several small meals, rather than one or two larger ones, throughout the day to avoid eating too much or too fast.
-If appropriate (check with your vet), include canned food in your dog’s diet.
-Maintain your dog’s appropriate weight.
-Encourage normal water consumption.
-Limit rigorous exercise before and after meals.
*If your dog is an inhaler like Oscar, I found some neat little tricks you can try!
-Put the food on a cookie sheet. This will make the food spread out & hard to get to.
-Place a ball or kong toy in the bowl. The dog will have to maneuver around the toy, which will slow him down. (Hopefully he doesn’t learn to just take the ball out though!)
-Purchase a slow feed bowl, which has an insert in the middle.
I purchased the green one above for Oscar, and it made a HUGE difference! He had to work to get the food, which slowed him down a lot. I have to say, I was a bit skeptical, but it really did work! I am so relieved that I can feed him now without worrying that he’s going to cause himself to choke, vomit, or worse!
So, there ya go! Hope you learned as much as I did! 🙂 Happy Friday, from us to you!