"Bloat" also known as Torsion or GDV (Gastric Dilation-Volvulus) is a life-threatening condition in which a dog's stomach twists and rotates, cutting off blood supply & oxygen to the vital organs. Large, deep-chested breeds like the Boxer are more prone to suffering from bloat than other dogs and it is a serious condition. It can occur at any age and at any time, threatening the life of your dog.
What are the Symptoms?
• Pacing, anxious, agitated and unable to rest
• The stomach will not show the bloat yet, but it will feel "tight"
• Appearing to be uncomfortable
• Hanging the head low
Symptoms Once Volvulus Begins (the actual twisting of the stomach and a serious stage of bloat that requires emergency attention):
• Vomiting or dry heaving
• Excessive drooling
• Whining, moaning, heavy panting
• Enlarged, tight stomach that is clearly visible to you - it will appear distended and protrude more than normal, especially on the left side.
• The dog may walk in a strange way due to the pain and twisted stomach
• Signs that your Boxer dog is in pain and discomfort - a dog may want to be alone or may act aggressive if you try to go near him...a dog may feel vulnerable when in pain and many will become very defensive.
• Signs of shock - pale gums, shallow breathing, a slow heartbeat and a coolness of the skin
The best ways to reduce your Boxer’s chances of suffering from bloat include:
• Improve your dog's digestion with probiotics or digestive enzymes
• Feed two or three small, healthy meals a day rather than just one
• Give your dog their own space to eat without being disturbed
• Never feed your Boxer before or after vigorous exercise
• Avoid play after feeding
• Use a raised dog bowl
• If feeding your dog kibble, ensure water is always available but limit the amount immediately after feeding
• Avoid sudden diet changes by making any significant changes gradually over a week to ten days
• Switch to a high quality diet without fillers or preservatives
• Use a stainless steel bowl that encourages slow eating or place a portion placer into the bowl
Bloat is ALWAYS an emergency, so get your dog to the vet as quickly as possible for treatment. (If your dog can still swallow while in transport to the nearest vet, you can give them Liquid Gas-X or Phazyme. Homeopathic options are Nux Vomica 200c or Carbo Vegetalis 200c.)
Once at the vet the following will occur:
1) X-ray will be taken to confirm diagnosis of dilatation and/or volvulus
2) IV will be started to treat shock
3) A tube will be inserted into the stomach to help remove gas and food
4) If this does not work, surgery will be done on the dog.
Unfortunately, 29%-33% of dogs with bloat die. Being aware of the symptoms of bloat is imperative to the health of your dog. Practicing good eating habits, proper exercise, giving your dog probiotics and feeding them an all-natural diet will decrease the chance of him developing canine bloat.