Commonly referred to as bloat, many deep-chested dog owners live in fear of this surgical emergency. Because the chest cavity is much longer than it is wide, the stomach of certain breeds has more room to move. The breeds most commonly affected by this problem are Great Danes, St-Bernard, wolfhounds, setters, Dobermans, boxers and German shepherds but it can happen to any dog. Dogs greater than 99 lbs have a 20% risk of bloat. Other risk factors include genetic predispositions, older dogs, males, eating only one meal per day, eating rapidly, anxious or aggressive nature, moistened kibble (especially if citric acid is used as a preservative), feeding from an elevated bowl, water restriction before and after meals.
When the stomach becomes heavy (for example after a large meal and-or when full of gas), it has a tendency to rotate. Classically the story involves a large meal and heavy exercise soon afterwards. If the stomach twists, it will prevent the stomach from emptying and cut off its blood supply. This is extremely painful, and the tissues of the stomach start to die off. Unfortunately, it can be lethal within a matter of hours if not surgically corrected.
After 1 episode of bloat treated without surgery, there is about a 75% chance of recurrence.
Now what if you could be sure this will never happen? Yes, it is possible. We offer preventive gastropexies, which means the stomach is fixed to the abdominal wall to prevent free movement in the abdomen. Although the tummy can still fill with gas, which can be painful, it cannot twist and become life-threatening. Usually these surgeries are performed at a young age, during routine spay or neuter. Recuperation is rapid and there are very few complications, contrary to volvulus surgery which has a 20 to 30% fatality rate, either during the surgery or in the post-operative period.