When I get bloated, it’s uncomfortable, sometimes smelly, but it doesn’t kill me! Last year, I was under the impression that raised dog food dishes were ergonomically great for our dogs and helped prevent bloat, a health condition that can be deadly to our dogs. Then a fellow blogger, Dee of 5 Old Dogs, shared a post stating that raised dog food dishes actually contribute to bloat.
But we have 2 and were going to buy 2 more.
What is Bloat in Dogs?
Bloat refers to a condition when our dog’s stomach bloats with gas and fluid, then twists around and can require surgery to fix, because the twisting leads to an obstruction that prevents the release of gas (through belching) and fluids (through vomiting), our dog’s tummy swells, leading to a host of other problems and can lead to death if not caught in time. Isn’t that awful?
When does Bloat in Dogs Occur?
During my research, I learned that bloat in dogs comes on suddenly in healthy, active dogs, when combined with vigorous exercise and eating and/or drinking (before or after the exercise). This reminded me of a woman I met who was the fur mom to a German Shepherd. She would discourage people from feeding her dog treats at the park, because the food, when combined with lots of drinking and enthusiastic play can lead to a twisted stomach – at the time, I had no idea that this was also referred to as bloat.
Dogs most susceptible to bloat are the deep-chested breeds like: Bloodhound, Boxer, Collie, Great Dane, German Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Labrador Retriever, Old English Sheepdog, St. Bernard, Standard Poodle and Weimaraner.
Among mid-sized dogs, the Chinese Shar-Pei and Basset Hounds have the highest frequency and small dogs are rarely affected, with the exception of Dachshunds, which is a deep-chested breed.
How Do We Identify Bloat in Dogs?
Not all dogs present the common signs of bloat, some of which are listed below. You can find more information on Pet WebMD: http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/gastric-volvulus-bloat-dogs-life-threatening-emergency
- Restlessness and Pacing
- Gagging, Inability to Vomit
- Enlarged Belly, Thumping on the Belly Produces a Hollow Sound
It’s important to do exams at home so that you know what’s normal with your dog. I do them while I’m petting and grooming them; feeling along their body, checking their teeth, gums, and ears, making note of what’s “normal” and what’s new.
If you suspect bloat in your dog, go to the emergency vet immediately! Emergency surgery may be required. I’m astounded at how serious this condition is for dogs. When humans discuss being bloated, it’s after we ate too much at a barbeque.
How Do We Prevent Bloat in Dogs?
Thank you, Dr. Alinovi for these tips!
- Feed multiple times a day, spaced apart so they don’t gulp down their food quickly, because they’re so hungry
- Don’t feed dogs from a raised bowl!*
- Feed your dog premium dog food; avoid kibble that lists “fat” as one of the first 4 ingredients
- Don’t feed your dog foods that are preserved with citric acid
- Don’t allow your dog to drink a large amount of water at once
- Don’t engage in a heavy play session or long run when your dog has a full stomach
If you have a food gulper, try feeding your dog from a Kong or another food dispensing toy. There’s a food dish, Brake Fast that helps slow down eating. And check out products made to help your dog drink water slowly.
“The pretty elevated bowls make beautiful flower planters but don’t reduce risk of bloating in deep chested dogs.” ~Cathy Alinovi, DVM
*I do know dog owners who feed from elevated bowls, because their dogs are too tall for bowls on the floor or because elevated bowls have helped their dogs eat more slowly. Given this contradiction, I recommend that you defer to the judgement of a trusted veterinarian.
We’ve decided to switch back to dog dishes on the floor for our dogs.
Please share your experience with elevated dog dishes and bloat in the comments below to help other dog owners.