Sunday, August 4, 2013

Bloat A Life-threatening Condition

 Bloat A Life-threatening Condition
                                                       It's true--animals can get bloated too. It's a little different than with people, though, and a lot more dangerous. Most often dogs and cats get bloat because they swallow excess air. It can also occur when the valve at the bottom of the stomach is blocked and the gas and other material produced by the digestive process can't exit the stomach.Bloat happens very rapidly and can be fatal in 30 minutes, when it's severe. If your pet's abdomen is distended and/or you notice nausea, vomiting, attempts to vomit, sudden weakness, or collapse, contact your veterinarian immediately. Bloat is a life-threatening condition.
In dogs, gas accumulation in the stomach is usually associated with volvulus of the stomach, which prevents gas from escaping. Deep-chested breeds are especially at risk. Mortality rates in dogs range from 10 to 60 percent, even with treatment. With surgery, the mortality rate is 15 to 33 percent.

 Kitten with dilated Abdomen 

Gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV)

Often, when the stomach becomes enlarged (or dilated), it then twists somewhere between a quarter and a full turn; the twisting is called volvulus. When an animal has gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), the openings at the top and the bottom of the stomach twist, blocking all materials from entering or leaving. As the digestive process continues, the stomach will swell more and more. As the stomach gets larger, it can press against blood vessels and decrease circulation. This can eventually lead to death of the tissue in the stomach walls. It can also take up some of the room the diaphragm needs to expand, which makes it hard for the animal to breathe. If left untreated, the circulation and breathing problems caused by GDV and bloat can cause infections, bleeding disorders, heart failure, and even sudden death. GDV is most often found in larger dogs that have eaten a large or abnormal meal.
                         X-ray from the underside of a dog with severe intestinal GDV. The dark area is the build up of gas.
What to look for

The most obvious sign of bloat is a distended, swollen-looking belly, particularly one that appears quickly. Some other noticeable symptoms of bloat occur when an animal tries to empty its stomach. Particularly with GDV, dogs and cats will try to vomit or belch but aren't able to; they will retch and seem restless and nauseated. They may also become short of breath as their abdomens become compressed. Some animals may act depressed or show signs of pain. In severe cases, the pressure the stomach places on blood vessels can cause irregular blood flow, abnormal heart rhythms, and shock, which can cause animals to collapse and can lead to rapid death.

What to do

Bloat must be treated by a veterinarian immediately. If she suspects your pet has bloat, your veterinarian can stabilize him and treat him for shock by giving him intravenous fluids and monitoring his heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure. She can check for the condition by performing a physical exam and abdominal X rays. She can also check for gas in his stomach by inserting a tube through the esophagus or inserting a needle through the abdomen. If an animal is diagnosed simply with bloat, that is if the stomach hasn't become twisted, sometimes the veterinarian can simply decompress the stomach with the tube or needle and no other treatment is necessary.
Treatment usually involves resuscitation with intravenous fluid therapy, usually a combination of isotonic fluids and hypertonic saline or a colloidal solution such as hetastarch, and emergency surgery. The stomach is initially decompressed by passing a stomach tube, or if that is not possible, multiple trocars can be passed through the skin into the stomach to remove the gas, alternatively the trocars may be inserted directly into the stomach following anaesthesia in order to reduce the chances of infection. During surgery, the stomach is placed back into its correct position, the abdomen is examined for any devitalized tissue (especially the stomach and spleen). A partial gastrectomy may be necessary if there is any necrosis of the stomach wall.


Because the causes of bloat aren't entirely clear, there is no known way to prevent it absolutely. Veterinarians do know that large breed dogs with broad, deep barrel chests are more likely to develop bloat than other animals; if you have a breed like this, you can watch carefully for bloat. You can also feed your pet small, regularly spaced meals, which are less likely to stretch his stomach. Presoak the food in water for 30 minutes before feeding your dog. You can prevent him from drinking large volumes of water at one time, too. Limiting exercise after meals can help as well. When animals run with a full stomach, the stomach swings like a pendulum and has a greater chance of flipping over and twisting itself. Eating something out of the garbage or eating anything else they aren't used to can also cause animals to develop gas, which can lead to bloat and GDV.The best way to protect your pet against bloat is to keep a close eye on him and watch for any strange behavior. If you notice anything about your pet that seems new or unusual, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Quick Reference for GDV

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