Bloat: The Symptoms to Watch For and How to Prevent It
Because our beloved Boxer’s are a deep-chested breed, they are more susceptible to a very serious medical condition called “Bloat.” Even the healthiest of dogs can get Bloat so keep reading. You’ll want to know the symptoms to watch for and how to prevent Bloat in your Boxer.
What is Bloat?
When bloat occurs, a dog’s stomach fills with air, fluid and/or food. The enlarged stomach puts pressure on other organs, which in turn can cause difficulty breathing and decrease blood supply to a dog’s vital organs. Bloat can lead to a life-threatening situation—stomach twisting or Gastric Dilation-Volvulos (GDV). Once stomach twisting has occurred, death can follow in a matter of hours.
* Tight stomach or abdomen
* Weakness and discomfort
* Hanging head low
Serious Symptoms of Stomach Twisting (GDV)
* Excessive drooling
* Unsuccessful attempts to belch or vomit
* Retching without producing anything
* Whining, moaning
* Visibly distended stomach
* Signs of shock - pale gums, shallow breathing, a slow heartbeat and a coolness of the skin
What causes Bloat?
The exact cause is currently unknown. Risk factors include: overeating or rapid eating, dry food only diet, overdrinking especially after eating dry food, heavy exercise after eating, fearful temperament, stress, trauma and abnormal gastric motility or hormone secretion.
How can I prevent Bloat?
• Don’t exercise your Boxer immediately after they have eaten. Wait at least 30 minutes after a meal to go run and play.
• If your pup gulps his food down, use a stainless steel slow feeder bowl to encourage slower eating.
• Be sure your Boxer is well hydrated before and during exercise so he doesn’t overdrink or drink too fast when you return home.
• Only feed your Boxer a high quality food or healthy home cooked food. Dog food brands containing fillers can cause bloat.
• Be sure not to overfeed your Boxer. No spicy or greasy human foods.
• Keep food and water bowls at floor level.
What should I do if my dog has symptoms of Bloat?
Bring your dog to a veterinarian immediately. Timeliness of treatment is paramount, since a dog exhibiting signs of bloat may actually have GDV, which is fatal if not promptly treated.
What is the treatment for Bloat?
Depending on your dog’s condition, a veterinarian may take an X-ray of the abdomen to assess the stomach’s position. The vet may try to decompress the stomach and relieve gas and fluid pressure by inserting a tube down the esophagus.
Food and water will be restricted for 36 to 48 hours afterward. In many cases, the dog will need to remain in an animal hospital in order to receive hydration and nutrients via an IV during this time. If the stomach has rotated, emergency surgery called Gastroplexy is necessary to correct torsion. There are many complications that can occur both during and after surgery, including heart damage, infection and shock; intensive post-operative monitoring for several days is routine. Most vets will recommend that during this surgery, the dog's stomach be permanently attached to the side of the abdominal cavity in order to prevent future episodes.