There is a big difference between the occasional bloating of your dog's stomach and the condition called gastric dilatation and volvulus. This serious and life-threatening health issue is typically seen in deep-chested, large breed dogs. Across several different scientific case studies of GDV, an increased risk was found in certain dogs, such as German Shepherds, Boxers, Great Danes, Standard Poodles, and Irish Setters. This does not necessarily mean that other breeds or small dogs are not at risk, but larger breeds with a deep chest are much more susceptible to this condition.
Gastric dilatation occurs when there is an overwhelming amount of gas in the dog’s stomach, causing volvulus, a term used when the stomach turns because of this gas pressure, cutting off blood flow. If a case of bloat reaches the volvulus stage, it is crucial that you take your dog directly to your veterinarian because this condition is extremely dangerous and can quickly become life-threatening.
Because this is such a serious condition, pet owners should immediately consult a veterinarian instead of trying to treat this condition at home. There are many ideas out there concerning homeopathic remedies for GDV, but none of these remedies are scientifically proven. Essentially, there is no homeopathic remedy for this deadly issue. Treatment involves surgery to address the situation and that is the only option in this case.
Ways to prevent gastric dilatation volvulus in your dog
Similar to many health conditions, prevention is the easiest and most pain-free way to deal with a condition like GDV. Studies have shown that there are several ways to prevent your dog’s stomach from bloating.
For obvious reasons, what you feed your dog can make or break their digestive health. If you have a breed of dog that is listed above, or if your dog’s lineage has a history of GDV, it is wise to consult your veterinarian about what your dog should be eating. When it comes to ingredients, every dog is different, and you might have to use some trial and error to find the perfect combination for your individual dog. Some ingredients to watch out for are:
Dry dog food with high amounts of fatty oils such as sunflower oil
Citric acid as a preservative (moisten your dog's food if the preservative is present)
High amounts of fermentable carbohydrates (fermentable carbohydrates can easily turn your dog’s stomach into a gas-making factory in a short amount of time)
It is recommended that a dog be fed a diet with meat-meal as one of the top four ingredients on the food label. Look for fish-meal, chicken-meal, and bone-meal, for example.
How to Feed Your Dog
Feed your dog small portions, more than once a day. All the studies agree that the more often you can feed your dog (usually 2-3 times per day), the easier it is for them to digest. Feeding your dog more than once a day can help to keep everything moving through the digestive system.
Is your dog one of those that snarfs down his food is five seconds flat? This can also cause GDV to occur. Many dogs that feel or have felt deprived (like rescue dogs) eat their food at a rapid rate because, in the past, they have not known when their next meal will appear. As a survival instinct, dogs naturally eat quickly so that other animals will not eat their food before they get the chance. Make your dog eat more slowly. This can be achieved in a number of different ways. Invest in a dog food bowl that slows down eating, such as an interactive feeder. If you have multiple dogs, feed them at a distance from one another to eliminate competition for food.
This preventative step may be the hardest. To prevent GDV, it is very important to remove stress from your dog’s routine. Try to kennel your dog less often. This can be difficult if you travel frequently, and do not have an alternate plan for your dog’s care. Consider a pet sitter. Look to Wag!, for example, as an option where your pet can be cared for in your own home when you are away. Other stress relievers are to provide your pooch with a quiet retreat for resting, and have plenty of mentally stimulating toys around the house for them to play with.
Although exercise is a great way to keep your dog’s digestive system in working order, do not exercise your dog directly after eating. Almost everyone has heard of the “don’t swim after you eat” rule. This is the same concept for walking your dog. If you can help it, wait about an hour or so after feeding your dog to do much strenuous exercise. Give your dog’s digestive system a little time to do its job before adding exercise to the mix.
Provide the Best Care
In the case of gastric dilatation volvulus, there is no alternative to seeking medical attention once the condition has developed. The best way to deal with GDV at home is to prevent it. If you suspect that your dog has bloat, head to the veterinary clinic immediately.