I am very worried about that my Leonberger could get a bloat or gastric torsion. I have read that deep chested dogs can be prone and have heard some real horror stories - is there anything I can do to to prevent this?
I've heard conflicting information about raised feeding bowls, do they help or not?
What causes bloat?
Is any type of food better than others?
Really grateful for any advice you can give me.
Jane Graham, Manchester
Bloat is a condition in which the stomach becomes distended by excessive gas content. It is also commonly referred to as torsion, gastric torsion, and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) when there is also stomach torsion i.e. the stomach is twisted, preventing the gas from escaping. People often use 'bloat' as a general term to describe excessive gas in the stomach whether or not the stomach is actually twisted.
The general advice seems to be to feed from raised feeders, do not exercise your dog or play active games during the hour before a meal and especially the hour after a meal, do not give water 30 minutes before or after food, take extra care with certain breeds or with deep chested dogs, feed wet food or soaked dry food, slow the dog’s eating so they swallow less air, feed small frequent meals rather than one large meal a day, avoid cereal-based food as they can be particularly bad at causing fermentation, and so on. I have tried to sum up some of the proposed do’s and don’t for you there but for the full article on D for Dog please visit http://www.dfordog.co.uk/didyouknow_bloat.htm
From speaking to actual dog owners who have had dogs who have suffered from bloat, often they say there seems to be no rhyme or reason to when it occurs. I am almost tempted to conclude that if a dog is susceptible due to shape, breed or inheritance then that is simply that. The above precautions certainly can’t hurt but they don’t seem to be fail proof. In my opinion the best thing would be to make sure you are aware of the early signs and symptoms of torsion and bloat because bloat becomes extremely serious very quickly and if it is spotted and treated early there is often a much better outcome for the dog. A dog with bloat will need to see a vet immediately. Gastric Torsion is an extremely dangerous and urgent situation. All you can do is get your dog to the vet straight away and try to keep your dog as warm and comfortable as possible in the mean time.
- Repeated attempts to vomit or produce a stool without success
- Distended stomach with abdomen feeling hard
- Evidence of abdominal pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Excessive salivation and drooling
- Stiff legged stance with arched back
- Heavy panting
- Pale/cold lips and gums (indicates the onset of shock)
Someone contacted me at D for Dog back in August I think it was, saying that raised feeders caused bloat. I always try to stay abreast of these matters so of course looked into it immediately. Like you I read conflicting information regarding bloat and raised feeders.
I did actually post a question myself on Think Tank around that time, asking about raised feeders and bloat. Vet Alison Logan gave a helpful reply, which I will replicate here but I am sure Beverley can provide the Think Tank link for you if preferred.
“Bloat is one of many conditions where advice varies with time, reflecting the results of ongoing research. Yes, raising the feeding bowl was advised at one time and current thinking is that it is best to feed from the ground once more. That advice may well change in the future, if it has not already.”
“It may be a matter of by how much the feeding bowl is raised, so perhaps feeding off the lowest back-door step rather than raising it by twelve inches, for example? There are so many factors potentially at play in the development of bloat that the height of the feeding bowl may be insignificant or a relatively minor feature ii comparison with another factor, which may not have even been identified yet.”
“From personal experience, my Labrador Pippin has had her food bowl sat in a stand to raise it from the ground for the past six years or so. This is because she has intermittent episodes of neck pain which I feel date back to when a car went into the back of my car at high speed whilst I was stationary in traffic. She was lying down in the boot of my car at the time. I suffered a whiplash injury and chronic consequences, whilst she had times when she could not bend her neck to reach her food bowl on the ground. It was heart-breaking to see – a hungry Lab who simply could not lower her mouth to her food! I found the stand at a local agriculture show and thought it was worth a try. The stand has been a revelation for Pippin so I do recommend raising the bowl for dogs who find it difficult to bend their neck to eat from the ground.” Alison Logan, vet
I hope that is of some use.