Lake Tahoe Wolf Recue


BLOAT - aka Gastric Dialation

also info on Twisted Bowel [volvulus]



Bloat comes in many names, and the condition affects different parts of the digestive system, but it's usually caused by many of the same things. This serious problem was seen mostly in the larger dog breeds [especially Great Dane, St. Bernard, and Borzoi among others], but is now being noticed more frequently with wolfdogs and other breeds. Some veterinarians have linked it with the feeding of commercial foods [especially large meals of concentrated dry forms of food]. It occurs most often in dogs between the years of 2 and 10 [and most frequently in senior dogs] and it occurs most often at night. Twisted Bowel Syndrome and Bloat can be fatal within 30 minutes to a few hours. Deep-chested breeds and senior dogs seem to be more prone to it and these dogs should be observed carefully on a regular basis. Numerous cases have also been noted with dogs that eat out of raised food bowls.

The symptoms of the condition are that approximately two to six hours after eating, the stomach area gets enlarged with liquid and gas, and sometimes feels like a tight drum. Most often you will see excessive salivation, drooling, unsuccessful attempts to vomit, extreme restlessness and discomfort, desperate attempts to eat grass and eventually, weakness and collapse.

This is an emergency situation because the increased pressure on the walls of the stomach causes fluids to leak in from the blood, with consequent dehydration, shock, and possible death in a few hours. Another complication is that the stomach can rotate on itself - a condition called volvulus – and the twisting can completely block entry into or exit from the organ. The stomach can also put pressure on the lungs [causing lack of oxygen] or heart [causing heart attack]. Immediate surgery is required for this instance.

Feeding a natural, home-prepared diet seems to be the best way to avert such problems. Feed two or three small meals a day instead of one large one, especially for large breeds. Avoid feeding dry food or concentrated foods that will absorb water after they are eaten. The dog will eat more than its capacity, and when the food becomes distended with water, the total weight of the food is greatly increased. This can prevent the stomach from its natural emptying and also increase the chance of the stomach twisting around and blocking the movement of food out of it. Do not restrict the dog from drinking a he needs to drink to aid digestion. You are better off not feeding a diet consisting of only dry foods.

Regular exercise, which strengthens the muscles and "massages" the stomach and bowels, is extremely helpful. [See Treatment below]

Also, feeding chunks of raw meat [bite sized] will help strengthen the stomach muscles, as opposed to mushy, or ground meat.

Bloat can be caused by many things, but here are a few common causes:

Drinking too much water-especially after eating, playing, or exercising. Basically, don't allow your pup to drink too fast or too much at any time. Monitor him and block him from time to time to make him slow down and drink smaller amounts. Allow him to walk around a bit between drinking times.

Dehydration– Since our cells are mostly water, when they are dehydrated, they “stick” together. This often causes muscle cramps, poor digestion, bloating, gas, torsion, skin problems, and dry coat, among many other diseases. Minerals lost from dehydration need to be replaced using one or more of the following: multi-mineral /vitamin tablet, colloidal [liquid] minerals], Braggs Liquid Aminos, Apple Cider Vinegar Honey, etc. You can also buy an electrolyte formula called Rebound. Just a teaspoon in their bowl of water goes a long way. Feeding a diet of Natural Foods with high water content [i.e. raw meat, veggies, fruits] will help avoid dehydration.

Too much dry food– In the wild, when wolves gorge themselves on game, the meat they eat is high in water content, the pieces they consume are different sizes, and they also have a stronger digestive system so they can break down the difficult-to-digest parts [bones, fur, feathers, beaks, etc.]. They don't eat every day and fast in between so that they can cleanse and detoxify, and rest their digestive systems. Our pets are consistently fed commercial dry food. Kibble is not called “dry food” for nothing! Have you ever dropped a piece of kibble in the sink and it gets wet and blows up to three times its size? Well that’s what happens in the dog’s stomach. They eat until they are full, then drink water, and the kibble expands in the stomach, often causing Bloat. This is why a natural real-meat diet is important, with little or no kibble added. Another important thing to remember to help prevent Bloat... if the dog is medium or large [and over 8 months old], it is always best to feed two smaller meals a day, rather than one large one. This is most important for older, sick, or recuperating canines, of any size.

Feeding at night– Feeding at night adds one more risk into the equation. The dog eats his fill and then later curls up to sleep. There is little room in the cramped stomach for the undigested food, especially if he has drunk a lot of water. I usually feed the second meal about 3 hours before bedtime so they have time to walk around and digest [AND you can monitor them].

Too much exercise before or after eating– I usually give the dog about 45 minutes to settle down after exercising before I feed him; and 1 hour after eating before I take him out to exercise again [and then it's usually walking instead of energetic activity]. The stomach gorges with blood when exercising. The stomach also gorges with blood when digesting. So allow the stomach to concentrate on one thing at a time to allow for efficient digestion.

Eating Too Fast- I feed my medium and large dogs two small meals, rather than one large meal every day. They actually digest better, therefore they get better nutrition, and the results are very noticeable! And you can actually feed less in the long run, saving on dog-food costs. Too many canines have died of Bloat from eating too fast. It is often a problem common in homes with more than one dog. The dog feels pressured or worried that another dog will come eat her food. Even if she is submissive and allows another dog to eat her dinner, it still causes stress and anxiety. So feed your dogs separately, and wait until they ALL have finished before integrating them again. [Be sure to keep the cats away as well during feeding.]

Seniors– Older dogs are prone to Bloat and Twisted Bowel Syndromes. Just like with us Human animals, the digestive system [along with all the other organs] don't work as efficiently as they did when younger. They also have less water in their cells and can get dehydrated easily. Keep a wary eye on your older canines, feeding lots of mineral- and water-rich foods, with frequent smaller meals [even 3 meals a day for the larger breeds].

Helpful hints -

Digestive Enzymes are very good to add to their food especially for older or rehabilitating canines, as they usually need help digesting. Enzymes also help heal injuries and connective tissue! Pancreatic Enzymes help reduce risk of cancer and other disease when given on an empty stomach.

Allow 15-20 minutes for your pet to eat. Then pick up leftovers and store for the next feeding. Get your canine on a regular feeding schedule which will help digestion. When dogs and cats are allowed to free feed [food sitting out all day] not only does the food get rancid, but the digestive system doesn't have a chance to rest if they are constantly picking. At the same time, you don't really know how much your pet has eaten. It is always important to know your dog's intake, as well as it's "outtake" [loose or firm stools, worms, etc.]!

Treatment -You must see your veterinarian immediately when symptoms occur, but there will be times when you cannot get veterinary service immediately. If you can intervene with treatment soon enough at the early signs, it is possible to head off an attack. An easy treatment that can help save a life is freshly made cabbage juice. Reduce fresh cabbage leaves [use a juicer or blender] to a not add water. Give 1 to 2 ounces of this as a dose until you can get the dog to a vet. There are also a few Homeopathic remedies that work efficiently, three of which I have listed below - so does some research before this condition occurs and have these on hand:

1. Homeopathic: Always keep on hand Pulsatilla 30C. This is the first remedy I use in these cases. Give a dose of 3 crushed pellets every 30 minutes for a total of 3 treatments. [in cheek pouch or on tongue]
2. Homeopathic: Belladonna 30C - this remedy is given when the problem has come on very suddenly, with severe and intense symptoms. There is agitation, desperate attempts to eat anything: grass, rags, even carpet. Pupils are dialated and the head may be hot. Give a dose of 3 crushed pellets every 30 minutes for a total of 3 treatments. [in cheek pouch or on tongue]
3. Homeopathic: Carbo Vegetabilis [charcoal]. Dogs needing this remedy will be greatly distended with gas and look very ill, with cold legs and ears, and bluish color to the tongue and gums. It is suitable for the state of shock that accompanies this condition. Give a dose of 3 crushed pellets every 15 minutes for a total of 3 treatments. [in cheek pouch or on tongue]
All these can be obtained at Health Food Stores. Dogs that suffer Bloat or Twisted Bowel Syndrome [volvulus] often have repeated symptoms again during their lifetimes. Often the stomach muscles and tendons get stretched and weakened, so observe your dogs carefully and give two smaller meals instead of one large meal a day for the rest of their lives. Gorging usually can be avoided if they eat two meals a day and thus they don't get so hungry between meals. It's better for their digestion as well, as they assimilate and absorbe the nutrients better with two smaller meals.

Remember this document is for informational purposes and only a basic guideline. Every animal and situation is unique, and what may apply to some animals may not apply to others.  Always check with a veterinarian, especially in the case of a distressed animal.

See some good recipes in Dr. Pitcarin's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats... I highly recommend it. No dog or cat owner should be without this book! It is available here at our on-line store Shopping Wolf Things

The "Only Natural Pet Store" also has lots of great nutritional foods and natural products. Have a look through their store. Remember to always check the ingredients labels to be sure you are getting good-quality products. Nutritional foods and natural products will help save on medical bills.

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