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Watch for “bloat” in dogs

A condition commonly referred to as “bloat” is one of the more prevalent threats to a dog’s health, and despite the fact that it is a severe issue for dogs, many people have either never heard of the condition or do not know much about it.

Even veterinarians are still unclear as to what causes bloat, although certain risk factors have been identified. The scientific name of the condition is known as gastric dilatation-volvulus, or GDV.

Bloat occurs in dogs when the animal’s stomach becomes overfilled with fluid, food or air. When this happens, the enlarged stomach can have an affect on other vital organs, causing loss of blood flow or oxygen. This condition is fatal for the animal if left untreated.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals released information about bloat on their website, which states that while larger breeds are more susceptible to the condition, any dog is at risk.

The information released by the ASPCA states that while the exact cause of the condition is currently unknown, rapid eating, rigorous exercise after a meal, drinking too much and stress are all factors that could increase a dogs chances of GDV.

If a dog is struggling with shortness of breath, a distended abdomen and pale gums then they are displaying symptoms of bloat and need to be taken to a veterinarian as soon as possible. Other symptoms include a cold temperature and failed attempts to vomit despite retching.

Time is a crucial factor in treating bloat. The ASPCA’s website states that despite receiving immediate treatment, 25 to 40 percent of dogs suffering from the condition die. If a dog is provided treatment in time, a tube can be inserted down the esophagus to relieve the pressure. In some cases where the stomach has actually rotated, emergency surgery is necessary.

To prevent this condition, feed a dog multiple smaller meals a day and keep them from exercising too much before and after eating. Keep an eye on over-drinking and make sure the dog maintains a healthy weight.