Bloat may sound like a harmless condition in humans, but it can be deadly for dogs. When left unchecked, bloat can cause a canine’s stomach to twist. As the stomach twists, it blocks any exit points for the food, air, or water the dog consumed. This can be life-threatening in a matter of hours, especially for a deep-chested breed like Bulldogs. In this case, you should know how to prevent twisted stomach in dogs before it happens to your pet.
In this post, I share some points that you can use on your dog. Just remember that these are just inputs from a pet owner and it doesn’t replace the expertise of a veterinarian.
What is a twisted stomach in dogs?
A twisted stomach or bloat is medically referred to as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening and complex condition that could occur to any dog, but predominantly among deep-chested breeds. Some of these breeds are Bulldogs, Doberman Pinscher, Great Dane, and Weimaraner, among others.
As a dog consumes food, water, and air during a meal, the stomach gets filled quickly. In turn, the pressure also builds inside the stomach until it twists or flips.
Once the dog’s stomach twists, the blood supply on the abdomen and lower extremities will be cut off. In a matter of minutes, this will put a canine in a state of shock.
As the abdomen – specifically the pancreas – gets deprived of oxygen, it will begin to produce toxic hormones. These hormones will cause the heart to stop at a screeching halt. Take note that even though a vet can put the stomach back in place, these hormones can still kill a dog post-treatment.
Signs of the twisted stomach in dogs
Signs of bloat in dogs are easily distinguishable. Here are some of the hallmark symptoms of GDV:
- Enlarged abdomen
- Intense salivation
- Straining as if trying to defecate
- Whining when you press the belly
However, the challenge is how fast you can seek veterinary care for your pet. Without treatment, dogs with twisted stomachs can die within hours. Also, dogs that were fed and left unattended are often the common casualties of a twisted stomach.
How to prevent twisted stomach in dogs
Prevention is the only best way to save your dog from the threat of a twisted stomach. With the guidance of your pet’s veterinarian, the following methods will be a great help:
🐶Use slow-feeding bowls
Slow-feeding bowls are a very effective means to prevent bloat in dogs. Since it slows down feeding, the canine’s stomach won’t fill too fast. It will also prevent your dog from swallowing excessive amounts of air.
Moreover, slow-feeding bowls are designed with various patterns to prevent canines from taking big bites. Depending on the design, these bowls can slow down your dog’s eating by up to 10 times.
Aside from preventing bloat, slow-feeding bowls also help with digestion. The bonus part is that these bowls are available in different colors, sizes, and price ranges.
🐶Limit water intake after a meal
It’s also important to limit your dog’s water intake right after a big meal. It’s because too much water on top of a large meal can easily build pressure on the stomach.
Another problem with too much water intake is that dogs also swallow air as they lap on the bowl. This doubles the risk of GDV.
With that, you should only offer a small amount of water at a time. After a few hours, you can refill the dog’s bowl to ensure that its stomach is ready to accommodate more fluids.
🐶Schedule exercise wisely
As much as ample exercise is necessary to keep dogs healthy, you should never schedule it right before or after a meal. This strenuous physical exertion will rotate the stomach, often in a sharper turn that’s hard to fix.
With that, it’s safer to put off your dog’s exercise for at least two hours before or after a meal. This period is enough for a dog to calm down and process the meal it just ate. But if you can wait longer, it would be safer, especially for a bloat-prone breed like Bulldogs.
🐶Monitor your dog’s feeding
If your dog is prone or has experienced bloating before, it’s crucial to monitor its feeding. Sometimes, it pays to watch your dog eat. This is so you can identify potential signs of stomach twisting as it occurs. It can be life-saving since this condition can kill a canine within hours.
If you tend to get busy, I recommend feeding your dog at the same time as you do. This will let you check on your pooch as you also enjoy your meal.
Gastropexy is a procedure conducted on canines in order to prevent bloat or gastric dilatation-volvulus. This surgery can also be done as part of treatment once a dog experiences a twisted stomach.
During this procedure, the vet will basically suture the canine’s stomach into the body wall. This is to prevent it from twisting should your dog consumes large amounts of air, water, and food at the same time.
There’s a non-invasive method to conduct gastropexy in dogs, which involves the use of laparoscopic and endoscopic tools. However, these are rare as tools for these procedures are only available in large pet hospitals.
Overall, gastropexy is optional as a preventive measure. But if your dog is at risk for bloat, it’s recommended to have it done at the same time as neutering or spaying. This way, your doggo would only have to deal with one recovery phase for two procedures.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you fix a twisted stomach in dogs?
A: When your dog is experiencing a twisted stomach, it’s best to bring it to the vet right away. This condition is often hard to manage at home, not to mention that you’re also racing against time. Depending on the level of twisting, the vet may need to puncture a hole through your dog’s tummy or conduct a full surgery.
Q: How long can a dog survive with a twisted stomach?
A: A dog suffering from a twisted stomach needs immediate veterinary attention to survive. Take note that around 20% to 40% of dogs with bloat often don’t make it. This is because the condition isn’t immediately diagnosed. In some cases, bloating and stomach twisting can kill a canine in less than an hour.
Q: Can dog poop cause a twisted stomach?
A: When a dog’s stomach twists, it won’t have the ability to expel the matter inside its stomach. In many cases, the dog won’t be able to defecate. Some may try to strain until they only produce a watery discharge. This is why a twisted stomach is very dangerous for dogs.
Q: What food causes stomach twisting in dogs?
A: Food isn’t the only factor that could cause stomach twisting in canines. Still, hot food and excessive carbohydrates are seen to increase the risk of this problem. Eating too fast is also a big problem because it makes the dog swallow a lot of air, which can initiate the twisting of the stomach.
Q: Does adding water to kibble cause bloat in dogs?
A: Adding water to your dog’s kibble is actually beneficial to help prevent bloating. It’s because your dog will consume water and dry food evenly. On the contrary, dogs that suffer from bloating often have a layer of dry food on top of the water, which is responsible for bloat. For the best results, you should let the kibble soak in water to make it mushy and easy to consume.
Knowing how to prevent twisted stomach in dogs is a matter of life and death. This can literally save your dog’s life as bloat is an extremely deadly condition. The good thing is that there are many helpful methods, including a surgical option for a permanent solution. Whatever you choose, you should still consult your dog’s veterinarian.