For dogs, a fatal threat waits for them if they are subjected to bloat. Veterinarians tell us that 30 percent of dogs with bloat will die from the condition. It usually affects older, larger dogs like Great Danes, who have enlarged chest cavities.
Vets also tell us that 42 percent of all dogs will experience bloat during their lives. In the main, dogs are equipped to deal with bloat independently.
But in cases where the condition is acute, surgery is required to relieve the dog’s pain from bloat. We have spoken a bit about bloat, but what is it, and how is it caused?
Bloat, known as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, is a condition that sees a dog’s stomach accumulate gas and fluid that flips on itself. When the stomach rotates, the gas builds up and has no escape portal for relief.
Many large breeds of dogs will be affected, and other issues come into play for dogs. Eating too quickly, stressful living arrangements, or heredity are situations that play into a dog’s health outcome.
Signs of bloat
- Enlargement of the abdomen
- Retching constantly
- Salivation that is extreme
- Restlessness is exhibited
- Stomach pain that causes whining when the stomach is touched
Does a dog’s diet cause bloat?
Many people think that the food you feed Fido will cause bloat. Many urban legends say that the cause of bloat is dietary. Hot food, cold food, big kibble, small kibble overeating, excessive carbohydrate consumption, and stress are said to be contributors to the pain a dog feels with bloat.
Studies from the scientific community indicate otherwise. Large chests and slim waists are the most likely common denominators for the disease, but that comes with a caveat.
Small dogs like a poodle or Chihuahua will suffer from bloat. If a dog has a companion dog that has had bloat, it will, in all likelihood, suffer the same fate. A dog with a nervous condition, if a dog is gulping their food and is only fed a meal once a day, will be in a class of dogs at risk for bloat.
Will a dog eat with bloat?
Dogs will eat, no matter what their internal problems are. We have argued here that food isn’t the cause of dog bloat. But other factors are the root causes of the disease. A bloated stomach comes from air and gases accumulated in a dog’s stomach.
An anxious dog that paces or repeatedly tries to vomit with nothing coming out is suffering from bloat. When you recognize bloat symptoms, you need to get Fido medical attention right away.
Risk factors for bloat in dogs
- One meal per day
- Eating too fast
- Not height and weight proportionate
- Wetting down dry dog food that contains citric acid as a preservative
- Having an elevated feeding bowl
- Reducing liquid intake
- Dry diets that have animal fat as the main ingredient
- Nervous anxiety
- Aggressive behavior with other dogs and people
- Male will get the disease more than female dogs
- Older dogs are more susceptible to the disease than younger ones
What you can feed your dog when it has bloat
Start with the inclusion of canned dog food in your dog’s diet. Table scraps in moderation are a huge help for a dog with bloat. Try to provide a happy, stress-free environment for your dog. Foods that contain high amounts of calcium are recommended in a dry form.
Meat and lamb are two that vets recommend for your dog. Fish and fish by-products, chicken and chicken by-products are also excellent choices for dogs to mitigate bloat. Meat meal or bone meal has tremendous health benefits for your dog when a rich calcium diet is required to address bloat.
One thing about the calcium-rich diet that a dry food diet provides the ingredients listed must be part of the four major food groups used to make the dry food. Make no mistake; you need to feed your dog at least twice a day in small portions to keep them stable and healthy and reduce the risk of bloat.
Other food that helps prevent the risk of bloat in dry food includes soy, wheat, and corn, in the four primary ingredients that comprise dry dog food.
Preventing bloat in dogs
Gulping down food causes problems for humans and Fido too. If your dog is on a dry kibble diet, scarfing down a meal will cause bloat. Using a puzzle feeder will slow the dog’s eating habits because the dish is designed to reduce the consumption rate.
If your dog has a case of food insecurity, they tend to eat fast and experience anxiety after a quick meal.
If you have more than one dog, feed them separately because they feel stress and anxiety when other dogs feed at the same time.
No elevated feeders
Another myth in the line of urban legends is that a raised feeder is the best thing to prevent bloat. It is quite the opposite; a raised feeder will encourage a dog to eat faster and more food when used.
Please keep your dog’s bowl on the floor as it reduces the risk of bloat and improves your dog’s health in the long run.
Keep meals small and frequent
Food anxiety is a problem for dogs, especially if they are only fed once per day. Dogs are creatures of habit, and they will anticipate their mealtime and are ready for the meal.
Like Pavlov’s experiments with dogs, when a dog believes it is time to eat, they will be rapaciously hungry. That leads to fast eating, which is unhealthy for a dog.
Humans who eat once per day are often hungry and wolf down a meal; dogs are no different when they are hungry.
Integrate canned dog food into your dog’s diet
Your vet will tell you in no uncertain circumstances that the introduction of canned dog food is essential for your dog’s diet. A dog’s digestion is why it needs some wet food introduced to their diets.
Dry food is more challenging for a dog to process, and adding some wet food to a dry kibble meal will reduce the risk of bloat developing in your dog.
Many dog parents think that canned food is not cost-efficient, but even inexpensive canned food helps a dog help combat bloat.
Water: the giver of life
Keeping a fresh bowl of cold water is essential to help keep your dog adequately hydrated. Plenty of water will be the key to staving off bloat in your dog.
It doesn’t matter if it is tap water, bottled water, or distilled water; make sure your dog has an ample supply of fresh water, and the colder, the better.
Bloating and appetite
Causation does not equal the correlation for bloat in dogs. A dog will experience bloat after a meal, and in general, a dog will eat when hungry. Gas and air are the causes of bloat, not food, and rotation of the stomach increases the risk dynamic for a dog.
Bloating in a dog can be resolved without treatment, provided, of course, that there is no twisting of the stomach.
Bloat is a life-threatening disease for a dog and can have long-term health complications for Fido. Providing a safe, secure environment is the key to good dog health. Dogs should not be on starvation diets that increase appetite and quick food consumption.
Remember that a dog should not see an increase in physical activity after a meal – big or small – like humans; a dog needs time to digest a meal. According to vets, eating isn’t associated with bloat; bloat is a byproduct of a dog’s diet and lifestyle that must be addressed and come after eating.