So your dog has a little gas. There is a big difference between occasional dog bloating and gastric dilation and volvulus. According to the book Small Animal Surgical Emergencies, by Dr. Lillian R. Aronson, “Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) is a relatively common acute abdominal condition in deep-chested large breed dogs”. Across several different scientific case studies of GDV, an increased risk was found in certain large-breed dogs, such as German shepherds, 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. When it reaches the volvulus stage, it is strongly advised that you take your dog directly to your veterinarian because this condition is extremely dangerous and can easily become life-threatening. Because this is such a serious condition, pet owners should immediately consult a veterinarian instead of trying to treat this condition yourself. There are many ideas out there concerning homeopathic remedies for GDV, but none of these remedies are scientifically proven. For the purpose of this article, listed below are several different ways to prevent GDV at home, rather than trying to treat GDV yourself.
Similar to many 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 his/her 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
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.)
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 digestion process.
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. Also, dogs naturally, as a survival instinct, 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. You can use a treat ball or kong, or you can physically regulate the amount by feeding your dog a few kernels at a time.
Elevate Food Bowls
Elevating your dog’s food bowl is a controversial topic in the dog world right now. Some studies show that elevating food bowls can prevent GDV because it lessens the angle at which your dogs swallows his/her food. There are also critics of this method that say that the elevated angle allows the dog to eat faster, and intake more air, therefore causing GDV. On this issue, it is up to you and your dog. You know your dog best. Pay close attention to how your dog acts when eating both at an elevated-level and at ground-level.
The last preventative step may be the hardest. To prevent GDV, it is very important to remove unneeded 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. There are many alternatives to kenneling your dog. One example of this is the website, “Rover.com”. This is a place where you can find at-home care for your dog while you are away.
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
Many pet owners would like to find a way to avoid going to the vet if at all possible. It can get pricey, and can add extra stress to both the owner and the dog. In the case of GDV, though, there is really no alternative to seeking medical attention once the condition has developed. The best way to deal with GDV at home is to prevent it. There are several different options and ideas that you can apply at home in order to prevent GDV from affecting your dog’s health and happiness.