Bloat, also called stomach torsion or twisted stomach, is when a dog’s stomach fills up with air making it difficult to breath–and if untreated–can kill within several hours. Bloat is the number two killer of dogs after cancer–yet many dog owners are not familiar with it. Although there is no definite way to prevent bloat–the following tips are recommended.
Feed your dog two to three smaller meals a day, instead of one large meal.
Feed a diet that is mostly meat (high protein) and high in fiber with minimal amounts of grain and carbohydrates. Some vets recommend completely eliminating grain and carbs if your dog has ever experienced bloat before.
Try to get your dog to eat slower if she is gulping down her food, which may entail picking up her bowl a few times while she’s eating. Dogs that eat fast tend to swallow a lot of air, which can lead to bloat.
Do not allow your dog to drink a large amount of water after a meal. Ingesting a lot of water can cause gas and will also cause dry food to expand in the stomach.
Keep your dog from vigorous activity, especially rolling over, for at least two hours after a meal. Heavy activity increases the risk of stomach twist. A leisurely walk is better and can also aid digestion.
Tips & Warnings
- Some veterinarians recommend feeding a premium dog food with a higher nutrient content which allows you to feed smaller portions while still meeting your dog’s nutritional needs.
- Do a “kibble test” with your dog’s dry food. Place a cup of food in a bowl, add water and let it sit overnight. The food will expand, so what you see in the morning is representative of what happens in your dog’s stomach. If the food expands a lot, you might want to test other foods and switch to one that doesn’t expand as much. Another option is to add water to the food prior to feeding so that it expands before your dog eats it, or you can mix dry and canned food together.
- In the past, it was recommended that dogs be fed from elevated dishes to decrease the chance of bloat, but now it’s believed that raised dishes increase the risk of bloat.
- High-stressed dogs are thought to be more at risk of bloat than those that are calm and relaxed.
- The most common ages for bloat are between 4 and 7 years.
- Among purebred dogs, Great Danes have the highest incidence of bloat, followed by Saint Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish Setters , Standard Poodles. Boxers and Mastiffs. But any size dog can get bloat!
- Avoid giving your dog bread or pizza crust as a treat.