Shepherds Breeder of
Quality AKC German Shepherd Puppies
Breeding for temperament, protectiveness, & Schutzhund/ IPO competition.
Located in Cleveland, Ohio
Near Pennsylvania, Michigan, Kentucky, and West Virginia
June 1997- June 2007
This page is dedicated to
Scout and the Borrelli family.
WHAT IS BLOAT?
Canine bloat occurs when there is gas production in the stomach and that gas
buildup is unable to be expelled via belching or vomiting, or passed through the
intestines and out of the dog as flatulence. Some bloat cases occur very
rapidly when fermentation of grains in the wet and warm stomach environment
create gas. The influence of grain in creating an environment conducive to
bloat seems even more plausible in that it is very rare for dogs that consume
meat-based diets to develop bloat. Generally, bloat is the extreme
dilation of the stomach as a result of gas buildup that cannot escape the
WHAT TYPES OF BLOAT ARE
GASTRIC DILATATION... is simply the expansion of the stomach due to the buildup
of gas or material in the stomach.
GASTRIC VOLVULUS (TORSION)... is the condition where the stomach rotates (flips
on its long axis) and thereby twists the esophagus and small intestine closed so
there is no passage of stomach contents or gas in or out of the stomach.
Foamy/slimy mucous around mouth and lips (or
vomiting this substance)
weak pulse with off
colored (blue, dark red, white) gums
HOW DOES BLOAT HAPPEN?
Scientists have tried to decades to learn about how bloat occurs by setting up
bloating conditions in the laboratory with laboratory dogs... and consistently
have failed in producing the spontaneous bloating that occurs with canine house
pets. The usual history is of a dog of a large breed that has recently
eaten a meal of dry dog food and then exercises or engages in some physical
activity. On occasion, though, there is no history of physical activity
and the dogs is suddenly seen trying to retch and vomit unsuccessfully.
The dog paces, becomes uncomfortable, attempts to pass stool and repeatedly
makes retching, gagging noises. Salivation is common. At this stage
it is impossible to determine what type of bloat is occurring. In
the photos above, the fortunate Malamute had a simple Gastric Dilatation with no
torsion or volvulus. Once the stomach contents and gas were eliminated via
a plastic stomach tube, and the stomach was flushed and antibiotics administered
to prevent further bacterial fermentation and gas production, the surgery was
over and the dog recovered rapidly and successfully. With Torsion or
Volvulus present, far greater damage occurs to internal blood vessels and
stomach tissues, plus the spleen gets caught up in the twisted mess of tissues
and becomes starved for oxygen along with the stomach. Eventually the
heart is affected due to the major interruptions in blood flow and heart
rhythms; plus the pressure on the heart and diaphragm prevents normal
cardio-pulmonary function. When the blood supply in the abdomenís major
arteries is compromised, blood flow to the heart and the cardiac output
decrease, leading to low blood pressure, and eventually, shock.
The production of gas in the
stomach sometimes overwhelms the dog's ability to belch it away or pass it
through the bowel as flatulence. There are various theories about the
gastric chemistry that occurs to produce this sudden buildup of gas. Plus,
many dogs that become uncomfortable as the gas builds up will begin to swallow
air, compounding their dangerous condition.
affected dogs show some of the symptoms above and are not interested in food or
water. After 30-60 minutes the dog begins to appear swollen in its midsection
due to accumulation of gas in the stomach than begin to pant heavily and
breathing becomes rapid and shallow. Keep in mind that the gagging and vomitting
is always unproductive.
HOW IS BLOAT TREATED?
Treatment needs to be undertaken immediately. Time is a very decisive
factor in the success or failure of correcting bloat. Once presented to a
veterinarian, a dog with bloat will become the center of attention and all other
activities at the animal hospital assume a lesser priority. Supportive
medications such as cortisone, antibiotics and intravenous fluids are started
immediately. The veterinarian may need to decompress the stomach initially
(before surgery) by inserting a large diameter needle into the stomach right
through the abdominal wall. An audible hiss is heard as the gas passes
through the needle. Once this is performed the doctor administers
intravenous anesthetic in very small amounts because the patient in this state
of affairs requires very little intravenous anesthetic to facilitate the passing
of the endotracheal tube through which the gas anesthetic is administered.
Some veterinarians skip the intravenous anesthetic and, via a face mask,
administer gas anesthesia such as Isoflurane... once the patient is unconscious
the endotracheal tube is passed into the trachea to allow continuous control of
Once anesthesia is at the
proper level, a stomach tube (see the photo above) is gently inserted down the
esophagus in an attempt to gain entry into the stomach. If there is a
Volvulus present and the twisting of the esophagus/stomach junction prevents
passing the stomach tube into the stomach, the doctor will need to incise the
stomach to dissipate the gas and bring the stomach back to a reasonable state of
size and pressure. If no volvulus (twisting or rotation of the stomach on
its axis) is present such as in the case presented here, with careful and gentle
manipulation by the surgeon within the abdominal cavity the stomach tube can be
directed into the stomach and the gas and stomach contents can be drained by
gravity out of the dog.
Once the intra-gastric
pressure is lowered the presence or absence of rotation of the stomach can be
ascertained. Also, if a volvulus is present, the spleen is also involved
and often its blood supply becomes strangulated. Occasionally, the doctor
will elect to remove the spleen at this time. The health of the stomach is
established... in cases where the gastric dilatation has been present for hours
and the pressure is very high, the stomach wall will be very thin and stretched
and there may be areas of necrosis
death). In the photos above a well vascularized stomach wall is evident...
that a god situation. In severe bloat where the stomach is stretched for
long periods, the blood supply is shut down and the stomach wall appears bluish
or blackened. This blackish coloration suggest permanent cell death and
damage. Any time there is necrosis of the stomach wall the prognosis for a
successful resolution of the case is very poor. The massive cell death and
absorption of toxins through the stretched stomach wall creates severe
cardiovascular damage and blood pressure problems. Once a state of shock
begins, the chances of recovery for the patient are slight. Even dogs that
survive surgery and seem to be recovering often succumb to endotoxic shock hours
and even days after the procedure.
When the stomach contents
are emptied through the stomach incision, the stomach wall is finally sutured
closed. If a volvulus is present the surgeon will rotate the stomach (and
spleen) back into the normal anatomical position. Then the stomach tube is
inserted through the mouth into the stomach and additional flushing and
antibiotic administration is done. Before closing the abdominal incision
the surgeon usually will tack (affix with sutures) the stomach wall against the
inner abdominal wall (actually just inside the rib area) to prevent future
episodes of gastric dilatation/volvulus. This tacking procedure is
excellent insurance against a volvulus happening again.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO
PREVENT BLOAT? The best suggestions are to feed the dog two small meals a day instead of
one large meal. Do not allow the dog to drink large quantities of water at
one time... have water available at all times. Do not allow exercise or
other vigorous activity for at least two hours after a full meal. Feed a
diet composed of more meats and less grain.