It may seem like a silly word, but Bloat is in line right behind cancer as the leading cause of death in dogs. As the #2 killer of dogs, it’s something you may not know about, but certainly should.
What is bloat?
Bloat is caused by gastric dilation and torsion, or in layman’s terms, the stomach fills with gas and then twists, cutting off blood supply to vital organs.
Who can get bloat?
Any dog with a stomach can suffer from bloat and in every case, it can be fatal. Bloat is most common in larger breed dogs that are deep chested such as Great Danes, Dobermans and Labradors. Statistically dogs between the ages of 7 and 12 are at a higher risk for bloat.
How to avoid bloat?
There are many factors that contribute to bloat and veterinary science is always looking into causes and prevention for this awful canine killer. In the interest of keeping it simple, here are the top 5 ways to avoid bloat.
- Slow down-If you have a gulper instead of a chewer, your dog is at a higher risk for bloat. Try a Breakfast bowl or feed smaller portions at a time to slow down your dog's eating.
- Limit exercise after meals-Dogs need about an hour and a half to 2 hours of rest to completely digest their food. So if your active pup wants to eat and run…limit their mobility until they digest.
- Check the ingredients-Statistically dog foods with fat within the first 4 ingredients have a higher potential to cause bloat. Fat is not digestible so it sits in your dog's stomach, then you add water, which makes it expand…and still not digest.
- Consider multiple meals-If your dog only eats once a day chances are they are more ravenous to eat when the bowl drops. Giving them access to food more than once a day may slow down the eating and reduce the risk of bloat because the stomach isn’t going from empty to full in such a rapid time frame.
How we try to prevent bloat
At Camp, bloat is obviously a huge concern for us, as safety is our #1 priority. We do a variety of things to track the health and safety of your Camper during their time with us including (but not limited to):
- Mess Hall Reports-we track each of your Campers meals and mark if they ate “some” “none” “most” or “all” of their meals.
- Requiring a 2 hour rest period after meals-Although it’s more common in larger breed dogs, since bloat has the risk of fatality, even our teacup Campers get a 2 hour break after meals, no exceptions.
- B.Y.O.F.-We always recommend you bring your own food. Changing a dogs diet “cold turkey” can upset their stomach, cause diarrhea and put them at a higher risk for bloat.
- Watch for warning signs-We love your Campers as if they were our own, because we feel like they are! We know your Camper and their “normal” habits and behaviors. If we feel your Camper is out of sorts, we’re going to let you know. We watch for behavioral and health alerts all day long. If your dog is showing signs of pain or discomfort, vomiting diarrhea or symptoms or any concern we’re going to let you know. If we suspect your dog may be suffering from bloat, we will immediately take them to the closest vet and call you on the way. Timing is everything and bloat can cause death within an hour.
If your dog has eaten 30 minutes or less before dropping them off at Camp, please let us know so we can give them the appropriate amount of time to digest before letting them play. The exercise they experience at Camp is more rigorous than at home, so we take every precaution.