Longlease Bernese Mountain Dogs, Articles and Information

Information on Bloat or GDV

A few notes on GDV, or "bloat" for those of you who are not well versed on it. This info is based on 20 yrs as a Vet Technician, research and actual experience with the condition. Definition------bloat, aka GDV, aka gastric dilatation and volvulus, without being too technical, is a condition in which the stomach is displaced, generally "flipped up-side down". This turning over of the stomach pinches off both incoming and out-going of stomach contents. At this point gas begins to accumulate within the stomach stretching it thin (like a balloon being filled up). As the stomach enlarges, it displaces other organs and causes other complications the most serious of which are cardiac arrhythmias which are often fatal. Splenic complications are also common.

Causes----this is the subject of much debate and research in the Veterinary community. The bottom line is, there is no one cause nor even multiple causes that educated people can agree on. Every time a new theory is tested & researched, it just becomes more confusing. Depending on who you ask bloat is caused by or associated with: what you feed, how you feed, when they're exercised, the temperament of your dog or genetics, etc. The truth is that I've seen dogs bloat for absolutely no apparent reason.

Symptoms: unproductive attempts at vomiting, discomfort and restlessness, salivation, distended abdomen (the dog will look like they swallowed a basketball) , in later stages----collapse and shock. Bernese are very stoic, and early symptoms can be missed, so be on your toes and do not be shy about going to the Vet if you are suspicious. Aggressive, early intervention can save your dogs life! An exam, usually including an x-ray, will confirm bloat. Note: because of their dispositions even Vets can overlook early stages. When one of our Berners bloated (I saw attempts at vomiting), we rushed to the Vet only to have him look at the wagging tail, "Hi, how are you?" dog and pronounce that she could not be bloating. I had to really insist to get him to x-ray her----he was shocked at the size of her gas filled stomach.

Treatment: again without getting too technical, the affected dog will receive emergency drugs and intravenous fluids, gas will be released from the stomach (via stomach tube or large bore needle), then, as soon as possible, surgical correction should be done. There are several surgical techniques, called gastropexy or stomach tacking, that are commonly used. The general idea is to relieve the pressure ASAP then suture the stomach in it's correct(ed) position to prevent recurrance. A note: there is often damage to the spleen, sometimes unseen. My Vet always advises doing a splenectomy, if the dog is stable enough, while he's "in there". Not all Vets agree with this but I must, based on personal experience. Several years ago, one of our Saints bloated. My Vet was out of town and we were forced to use another Vet. He did the gastropexy but left the spleen in place. Six days later, Ebony "crashed" ---- he got shocky and had a fever of 106 degrees--------it was splenic torsion, his spleen was all twisted up, enlarged and getting gangrenous. Our Vet removed his spleen, in a very dangerous surgery (he was no where near recovered from the first surgery). We got lucky, he survived and is still with us.

I advise discussing with your Vet his experience with gastropexies and his opinion on the splectomy question, NOW, before you are in an emergency.

Prevention---this is a much debated subject. There are however some common sense things you can do to try and reduce the chances of you dog bloating. One is to rest your dog for at least two hours after each meal, another is to feed the same, high quality diet, all the time, yet another is not to feed before "excitement" like visitors or going in the car. Many people (us included) advise soaking kibble in hot water to expand it before feeding but this is not a proven prevention. Ask 10 Vets or breeders, get 10 opinions on diet and bloat. In short, the best thing you can do is to observe your dog, closely, so you will know at the first signs of trouble. Then, at your first inkling of a problem---get to your Vet!

I hope you find this helpful and that all breeders start educating their clients on this subject.

Chris Baker

For further information

Informative video showing BLOAT in an Akita

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