Canine Bloat: What You Need to Know! | PetFirst
Pet Care & Health

Canine Bloat – What You Need to Know!

by PetFirst Pet Insurance
5 years ago

What is Bloat?

Bloat is a multi-faceted, painful, and often fatal medical condition that occurs mainly in large breed dogs, but all breeds can be victims. The formal name of it is gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV). That term suggests that it is comprised of two separate conditions, and it is. They combine to create a severe medical crisis. The two related conditions are:

  • Gastric dilation- refers to the distension of the dog’s stomach. It can result from the ingestion of food, fluid, and air, or by a combination of all of them, resulting in gas. The reference to “air” does not mean just that which the dog breathes, but instead, also the gas created by the fermentation of carbohydrates by the acid in the dog’s stomach. Consequently, this element of bloat frequently begins after eating or drinking large amounts of water quickly. It can also involve ambient air especially if the dog is fed one per day and is, therefore, hungry and eats quickly. In the process, he or she may ingest large amounts of air in the process. Stress, and exercise soon after eating, seem to be contributing factors.
  • Volvulus- refers to a twisting of the stomach.

What Causes Bloat?

When the two conditions coincide, the result is extremely painful to the dog and worse, can be fatal.

Bloat happens when the dog’s distended stomach twists, causing a cessation of blood flow to it. Due to the lack of blood flow through the body, tissue dies. The extent of tissue death depends upon how long the stomach remains twisted before treatment. Since the dog’s stomach enlarges, blood vessels that carry blood back to the heart for re-oxygenation can become constricted. As a result, blood circulation can slow, the heartbeat can become abnormal, and the dog can go into cardiac arrest or shock. If emergency surgery is not done quickly, increasing amounts oftissue dies, which can result in the affected dog’s death.

What Dog Breeds Are Susceptible to Bloat?

While bloat is a potential risk for all dogs, it most frequently occurs in deep-chested breeds or mixed-breeds that have hollow chests because of their breed combination. Representative breeds at risk include:

  • Akitas
  • Basset Hounds
  • Boxers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • German Shepherds
  • Gordon Setters
  • Great Danes
  • Irish Setters
  • Weimaraners
  • Saint Bernards
  • Standard Poodles

Symptoms of Bloat and Treatment

Bloat comes on fast. It is imperative to get immediate emergency attention. Watch for symptoms like these, keeping in mind that in the early stages, it may appear just that his or her stomach hurts—it could be much worse:

  • Acts restless
  • Drools
  • Has a swollen stomach
  • Appears anxious
  • Looks at his or her stomach
  • Paces
  • Tries to vomit but nothing comes up

As the condition gets worse, he or she may:

  • Collapse
  • Have pale gums
  • Have a rapid heartbeat
  • Have shortness of breath
  • Feel weak

Emergency care must be immediate as the dog is in danger of death. En route to emergency care the dog should be kept warm and still because he or she may be in shock. If gastric dilation is confirmed, it may be treated by trying to relieve pressure in the dog’s stomach. Surgery is usually required for volvulus to reposition the stomach. Surgery can run many thousands of dollars.

How PetFirst Pet Insurance Can Help

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that we at PetFirst can do to prevent Bloat except to educate you. However, if, based on the information that we’ve provided you are able to see that your pet is suffering from GDV, there are medical options that we can help you with. You need not give up on your pet due to the cost of care. That’s where PetFirst can help, too. With PetFirst pet insurance, you, the pet parent, pay for veterinary services when rendered. You, perhaps with the help of your veterinarian’s office, then file a claim for reimbursement with PetFirst and are reimbursed within a short time. The amount reimbursed is a function of the PetFirst pet insurance plan you purchased and is generally a percentage of the total covered charges.

Look at it this way: If money were tight when your pet was diagnosed with GDV, would you be more likely to get it for him/her if you knew that you would be reimbursed for part of it in a short time? That’s what pet insurance coverage through PetFirst is all about. In return for a periodic premium that is a fraction of the cost of the emergency or continuing veterinary care, you get a windfall of protection from great veterinary fees and might save a life.

That’s what PetFirst does.

In Memorium

Soon after my family moved to Tallahassee in 1999 and settled into the new community, we adopted Brooke, pictured below guarding my son, Alex, as a puppy from Tallahassee Big Dog Rescue. Brooke died suddenly of GDV at home in 2009. She was a dog among dogs.


PetFirst Pet Insurance guest blogger Luke Brown's head shot
Luke Brown is a retired attorney, a husband, a father, and presently the human to 15 dogs, 2 tortoises, and a fish. Early in his career, Luke represented insurers and their policyholders in liability claims, and policyholders in claims against their own insurers. His clients have included insurers and other insurance licensees in regulatory matters before state insurance regulatory authorities. Before that, he was Senior Executive Attorney for the Florida Department of Insurance Regulation. He has taught insurance law at Florida State University’s Law School and at the FSU College of Business. He wrote a treatise on Florida insurance law, edited the insurance topic of a legal encyclopedia, and served as a consultant on insurance for a major international information provider. Luke now writes on insurance and healthcare for a diverse audience.

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