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After a meal, the dog’s stomach can reach a volume of 3-4 l in a medium 15 kg dog, and can dilate up to 7 l in a large-breed dog. This aptitude for dilatation, associated with the fact that the stomach is relatively loose in the abdomen, is a predisposing factor for the the syndrom of gastric dilatation and torsion.

The causes of this pathological gastric dilatation are poorly known, but it could be related to an accumulation of:

  • gas: the eructation mechanism does not work properly and gas are not evacuated from the stomach. By the way it seems that it is mainly air which is breathed in when the dog eats too quickly…
  • fluids: secreted by the stomach;
  • food: the emptying of the stomach does not occur normally.

The often fatal issue of this syndrom is due to serious circulation disturbance: the venous circulation is disrupted, the blood pressure drops, and a shock state takes place, aggravated by the release of toxins produced in the necrotic areas of some abdominal viscera. The mortality rate varies between 10 and 60 % (33 % according to the most american studies), according to the seriousness of the affection, the delay and the therapeutic measures that have been applied before the surgical treatment, the condition of the cardio-respiratory system of the dog, etc…

The large breed dogs are the most threatened: Great Dane, St Bernard, NewFoundland, Weimeraner dog, German shepherd, Dobermann, Old English sheep dog, Pointer… The most nervous dogs (often underweight) would be the most at risk, probably because they are the first to react to any change in their environment: new places, new people, new feeding rythm, physical activity, etc… Any kind of stress can be effectively considered as a favorizing factor for triggering the dilatation/torsion syndrom.

No study allows to associate a special diet with the development of a bloat syndrom.M This accident occurs in dogs fed vary different types of diets: home-made food or industrial products, dryfood or canned food. The statistical studies that point out a relationship between dryfood and bloat are distorted by the fact that a majority of large breed dogs are actually fed dryfood.

On the contrary, way of feeding may have an influence:

  • rehydration of the food is in favour of a nearlier emptying of the stomach. Besides, 80 % of dogs prefer consume dryfood when it is slightly rehydrated.
  • Large breed dogs often have high energetic requirements, especially if they live outside. These requirements have to be satisfied by large volumes of food, but the ingestion of a single big meal in the day can be in favour of the dilatation. It would be better advised to split the daily diet in two or three meals a day.

In conclusion, the preventive measures aim at avoiding that the dog eats too hastily, and to make easier the stomac emptying.

Practical measures in favour of the prevention of the canine bloat syndrom

  • Feed the dog alone, in a quiet area.
  • Split the daily diet in two meals a day, in order to avoid the stomach to be too much dilated.
  • Choose a high digestible diet that will be distributed in smaller quantities compared to an ordinary food.
  • Choose a food presented in large croquettes, in order to slow down the ingestion. An object put in the middle of the plate can act the same way, because, it obliges the dog to turn around to be able to eat.
  • Slightly rehydrate the food before feeding.
  • Respect a 2 hour resting period after each meal. Physical activity when the stomach is full can make it move. Moreover, stress inhibites the emptying of the stomach.

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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