A few years ago I lost Zoey, my Great Dane/black lab mix to bloat.
Unfortunately, with her being a mixed breed, I didn’t realize the risk factors for her, nor recognize the early warning signs.
I have done some research since and would like to share what I have found in order to help others prevent stomach bloat in their dogs, especially anxious dogs.
With this condition, prevention is the best hope. Once your dog has developed bloat, it may be too late to successfully treat and save her.
I’ll delve a little into the condition of bloat to explain what happens, but I would mostly like to stress the importance of what you can do to prevent bloat, especially if you have an anxious dog to begin with.
Bloat, also known as Gastric dilatation-volvulus, occurs when the sphincter between the esophagus and the stomach malfunctions and there is an obstruction of the outflow through the pylorus.
The pylorus is a small opening at the base of the stomach, allowing partially digested food to flow out to the duodenum. When this gets clogged for whatever reason, the food can’t pass through. With the malfunction of the sphincter closing off the other end, the stomach fills up with air.
The stomach may then torque or twist up to 360 degrees and the dog can’t throw up or otherwise relieve the condition.
The only hope of fixing the situation when it gets to this point is through aggressive surgery, and even then the outcome is not very promising. The best cure is prevention.
I don’t believe it’s 100% clear what exactly causes bloat for each dog. There are many possible causes ranging from excessive water intake and exercise to facing a stressful situation on a full stomach.
One thing I didn’t realize is that overly anxious dogs are at a higher risk of developing bloat than happy easy-going dogs.
My dog Zoey was rescued from a very abusive situation and pretty much lived at a high level of fear and anxiety, seemingly always waiting for something terrible to happen.
That, coupled with the fact that she was an older dog and had the deep chest of a Great Dane, made her highly susceptible to bloat.
Not all dogs have the propensity to fall victim to this condition. It is mainly seen in dogs with deep chests who may be underweight, older, fearful, or overly anxious.
Here are 14 steps on how to prevent bloat in dogs, especially anxious ones:
1. Don’t allow your dog to drink excessive water for an hour before or after a meal, but otherwise always have fresh water available.
2. Control your dog’s water intake on hot days. Some dogs will drink too much on their own. Only give them a few drinks at a time every few minutes.
3. Feed small portions of food two or three times a day. Feeding one large bowl of food once a day can cause some dogs to eat too fast, filling the stomach with not only food, but a lot of air.
4. Control rapid eating by putting a medium to large sized rock in with the food so your dog has to eat around it, but make sure its large enough that it is not eaten as well.
5. Don’t feed only dry food – add raw meat when possible.
6. When feeding dry food, look for a kibble that does not have fat as one of its first 4 ingredients and does not have citric acid as a preservative. If you can’t avoid the citric acid, do not add water to the kibble.
Wellness CORE Natural Grain Free Dry Dog Food, Original Turkey & Chicken, 26-PoundsTaste of the Wild Dry Dog Food, Hi Prairie Canine Formula with Roasted Bison & Venison, 30-PoundsRachael Ray Nutrish Dry Dog Food, ‘Chicken & Vegetable Recipe’, 28-Pound
7. Also when feeding dry food, look for one that has rendered meat meal with bone product as one of the first 4 ingredients.
8. Feed a high quality diet.
Solid Gold Hund-N-Flocken Holistic Dry Dog Food, Lamb, Brown Rice & Pearled Barley, Adult DogsSolid Gold High Protein Holistic Dry Dog Food, Red Meat with Buffalo, Adult, 22lbGrain Free Dog Food – Natural Quality Protein Dry Dog Food with Vitamins and Minerals
9. Don’t elevate the food bowl. This is one I would have never thought of, but it seems to be a possible contributing factor in dogs that are possible candidates for developing bloat.
10. Avoid brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, or soybean products, because these can produce gas.
11. Promote good bacteria in your dog’s intestinal tract by supplementing with probiotics such as acidophilus.
Probiotics for Dogs and Cats – Powder for Digestion, Diarrhea ReliefLuvMe Probiotics for Dogs Canine Total Health Formulated with CFU’sPet Ultimates Probiotics for Dogs, 137 grams Ultra ConcentratedProbiotic Miracle Dog Probiotics for Dogs (360 servings)
12. Some people also believe it helps to give a bloat-susceptible dog 1Tbs of apple cider vinegar after each meal to aid in digestion.
13. Avoid subjecting your fearful or anxious dog to highly stressful situations if at all possible. If you can’t avoid such things as trips to the veterinarian or boarding your dog or changing your dog’s routine, try to make it as low-key as possible.
To help calm your anxious dog, try using something like a Thundershirt during times of stress. Also, Rescue Remedy may help calm your dog.
14. Keep a product containing simethicone on hand to give to your dog at the first sign of gas such as belching more than twice. This would be a product like Gas-X, Phazyme or Mylanta Gas (must be for gas, not regular Mylanta).
Deep-chested dogs of the breeds of Great Dane, Doberman, German Shepherd, Weimaraner, Gordon and Irish Setters, Rottweiler and even the Basset Hound are most susceptible to bloat.
Just to be clear, though, not every dog of these breeds is susceptible to bloat. However, dogs with deep, narrower chests than others of the breed seem to be at more risk.
Catching a dog showing the first symptoms of bloat can possibly save its life.
If you notice your dog belching several times, throwing up repeatedly, acting uncomfortable or attempting to poop without results, she could be starting to bloat. If you suspect symptoms of bloat in your dog, get that dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.
Other signs may include:
If surgery is necessary, your dog has a better chance at survival if caught early. The stomach can then be tacked to the wall of the abdomen (gastropexy) to prevent it from flipping back over.
One thing you can do to determine if there is anything going on in your dog’s stomach is to put your ear against her side and listen. If you hear absolutely no gut noise, that’s not a good sign.
Normally, a dog will have some noise going on all the time in their stomachs. Not hearing anything could mean it’s filling up with air.
Even having a stethoscope on hand is a good idea. You’ll be able to hear your dog’s stomach better that way.
In later stages, your dog’s stomach will actually enlarge and feel like a basketball full of air. Death usually comes within hours.
I don’t want to create a sense of fear among dog owners, but rather a sense of awareness.
Although these deep-chested breeds are at higher risk than other breeds, any fearful or anxious dogs within these breeds are certainly more susceptible to developing bloat.
All of these precautions should be taken for these dogs if at all possible. For any dog, it is always best to create a peaceful, calm environment whenever possible to ensure a well-balanced, happy, and healthy existence.
Remember, we are the stewards of these wonderful animals who love us unconditionally. Prevention of stomach bloat in these high-risk breeds is far better than trying to cure it with surgery when it might be too late.
(I am not a pet health care professional. I have worked with dogs for many, many years and speak from my own experience and research. The information in this post is not meant to replace any advice from professionals, but merely to help you with your own research. If you suspect your dog may be showing signs of bloat, please seek out your veterinarian immediately.)
Have you ever wondered why drug companies tell you their flea products are entirely safe for your pet, yet the labels on the products tell you to wear gloves when applying and wash immediately if the product comes into contact with your own skin? I mean really – how safe ARE flea products?
Why is it okay to put several drops on your dog’s skin, but not one drop on your skin? Are flea products safe for your dog if they contain toxic chemicals?
It’s my personal opinion that flea products containing toxic chemicals can’t be safe for our pets.
On the other hand, the flea infestation seems to be getting worse in some areas. If something isn’t done to prevent them from taking over residency on our pets, we end up paying vet bills for anemia, skin irritations and more.
There is one product on the market, a flea collar, that seems to be working really well. It’s called Seresto and is a collar that stays on your dog or cat for up to 8 months.
It takes a few days for it to start working, but once it does, your flea problem should disappear.
But beware when using it. The fact is that it works well. And it is supposedly non-toxic to dogs.
Unfortunately, some dogs seem to be sensitive to it and may end up getting sick or having a skin reaction from the collar.
My suggestion is to try it if nothing else seems to be working. Just keep an eye on your dog while the flea collar is on. If you notice any unusual change in his behavior, health or skin, remove it.
It’s expensive, but because it lasts several months, it’s actually less expensive than other flea products.
Most other flea collars that have pesticide sprayed onto them. This has embedded within the material of the collar the active ingredient of Advantage plus an ingredient that kills and repels ticks.
I remember a spokesperson for Frontline a few years ago explaining that it was a perfectly safe product, that no toxins get into the pet’s system, that the poison that kills the fleas simply travels along the surface of the skin.
She was pretty convincing.
But how can it travel along the surface of the skin and not get into the blood stream? Blood feeds the skin.
Whatever toxins are seeping into the pores of the skin are also being carried into the blood stream.
And although these toxic flea control drops seemed to work well when they first came out, they don’t seem to be working as well now, a few years later.
Being around other people’s dogs every day, I’ve seen many frustrated owners who have been faithfully using topical flea control monthly only to have their dogs still covered with fleas.
I have read many heartbreaking stories of pets who have had terrible reactions after being treated with today’s most popular chemical flea and tick killers.
Many of the products we have been using on our pets for years such as the liquid drops of Advantage, Bio-Spot, and Frontline, to name a few, contain one or more of the following active ingredients:
or inert ingredients:
Laboratory testing was done over the course of a decade to determine toxicology and morbidity results. These tests were performed by:
and other organizations.
According to laboratory testing and results, Fipronil, which is in Frontline Top Spot and Frontline Plus, is a neurotoxin and is suspected of being a cancer agent to humans.
It can cause kidney damage, thyroid cancer, liver toxicity, high cholesterol, miscarriages or stunted offspring, lack of coordination and difficulty breathing. Wikipedia explains the toxicity of Fipronil.
This is just one example. Any of the active ingredients previously mentioned in these products can harm our dogs and cats.
So what do you do if you have a flea problem but don’t want to use harsh chemicals found in unsafe flea products on your pet? There has to be a safe way to get rid of fleas.
There is. In fact, if you click on this link => natural flea products for dogs you’ll find a natural product made from cedar oil that works great for killing fleas.
The way these natural remedies work is by blocking the octopamine of the flea, which is kind of like its adrenalin, so that it simply can’t function and then dies.
This octopamine blocker is an oil extracted from certain plants which have a natural defense against bugs, and then used as the active ingredient in the product.
Here are some more natural flea products:
Natural Pet Spray for Dogs & Cats – Tick + Flea & Insect Repellant with Lemongrass & CitronellaWondercide Natural Flea & Tick Control for Pets Home – Cedar & Lemongrass – 16 ozDr. Mercola Natural Flea and Tick Defense – A Repellant To Help Protect Your Pet From Fleas
Using natural products keeps everyone safe and happy and gets rid of the flea problem.
A few things may help keep the fleas at bay:
Whether you use natural or chemical flea products, the main thing is the health and well-being of your dog.
There is no absolute definitive guide to how safe flea products are. I think it somewhat depends on the individual dog.
Just like people, some dogs are more sensitive to chemicals than others.
I do know, however, the devastation fleas can cause not only to your pets, but also to your family and home.
If you’re struggling with a flea problem, keep trying until you find something that works – for your sake and your dog’s.
Have you found a non-toxic flea control product or compound that works for you? Let us know in the comments below.