Losing my Great Dane/black lab mix recently to bloat was devastating for me. Unfortunately, because she was a mixed breed, I didn’t realize that she might be at risk for bloat, nor recognize the early danger signs. Since then, I have done some research and have some suggestions for preventing bloat, especially in highly stressed dogs.
With this condition, your best hope is prevention. Once your dog has developed bloat, it could possibly be too late to save your dog’s life. I’ll talk a little about the condition of bloat to explain what goes on in the dog’s stomach, but I would mostly like to emphasize the importance of what you can do to keep bloat from ever occuring, especially if you live with a highly stressed dog.
Bloat occurs when the stomach fills up with gas and both ends of the stomach are blocked, not allowing it to escape.
At this time the stomach may twist on its axis up to 360 degrees, causing total blockage and there is no way the dog can relieve the condition. The only hope of flipping the stomach back over is through aggressive surgery that may or may not work. Prevention is your best chance of survival.
Something I didn’t know is that anxiety-riddled dogs are more prone to experiencing bloat than calm happy dogs. My dog Zoey had obviously been badly abused as a young dog and even living in a peaceful environment in her later years, was easily stressed.
That tendency, along with the fact that she was an older dog and had the deep chest of a Great Dane, made her highly prone to bloat. Not all dogs have the propensity to fall victim to this condition. It is mainly manifested in deep-chested dogs who may be underweight, senior, fearful, or overly anxious.
Taking these 14 steps seriously can help prevent bloat, especially for overly fearful dogs:
1. Limit water intake to a minimal amount for an hour before or after a meal, but at all other times have fresh water available.
2. Control how much water your dog drinks on warm summer days. Dogs don’t know what can happen if they drink too much too fast. Only allow a small amount at a time every few minutes.
3. Give your dog two or three small meals a day rather than one or two large ones.
4. Keep your dog from scarfing down its food by putting a medium to large sized rock in with the food causing your dog to eat around it, but make sure the object is large enough that it is not eaten as well.
5. Add raw meat to your dry dog food if at all possible.
6. When feeding dry food, look for a kibble that does not have fat as one of its first four ingredients and does not contain citric acid. If you can’t avoid the citric acid, do not add water to the kibble.
7. Also if you feed dry food, look for one having as one of its first few ingredients rendered meat meal with bone product.
8. Give your dog a high quality diet.
9. Don’t elevate the food bowl. This is something I had not known, but it seems to be a possible contributing factor in dogs that are possible candidates for developing bloat.
10. Buy food and treats that do not contain alfalfa, brewer’s yeast or soybean products.
11. Promote friendly bacteria in your dog’s intestinal tract by adding probiotics such as acidophilus.
12. Some people also believe it helps to give a bloat-susceptible dog 1Tbs of apple cider vinegar after each meal as a digestion aid.
13. Keep your overly anxious dog away from highly stressful situations if at all possible. If this can’t be avoided due to needing to make a trip to the vet,etc, try to keep it as low-key as possible. To help calm your overly anxious dog, try using the Original Anxiety Wrap or Thundershirt during times of stress.
14. Always have a product with simethicone in it on hand to give to your dog at the first sign of gas such as belching more than twice. This would be a product like Gas-X, Phazyme or Mylanta Gas (must be for gas, not regular Mylanta).
These are the 14 things to think about if you have a dog with a deep chest, such as a German Shepherd, Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, Rottweiler, Weimaraner, Irish and Gordon Setters or even the Basset Hound.
I don’t want to put fear in the heart of dog owners, but rather help create an awareness and prevention program. Although these deep-chested breeds are at greater risk than other dogs, any fearful or anxious dogs within these breeds are certainly more susceptible to developing bloat. If it is at all possible, all of these precautions should be taken to protect your dog. In any circumstance, it is always best to create a calm, peaceful home and routine whenever possible to guarantee a well-balanced, healthy and happy existence.
Remember, we are the stewards of these amazing animals who love us unconditionally. Prevention of bloat in easily stressed dogs is far better than trying to attempt a cure when it is possibly too late.