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Bloat is a problem that can affect some dogs. It occurs when their stomach fills with food, fluid or gas causing expansion and pressure on other organs in the body. It can cause breathing problems, circulatory problems and it can restrict blood flow to parts of the body.

Sometimes this expansion can cause the stomach to turn and twist which causes gastric dilation volvulus or GDV which prevents blood being returned to the heart and other parts of the body which can send them into shock.

They become restless and have a swollen stomach. They often drool more than usual, become anxious and try unsuccessfully to vomit. As there is a restriction in blood flow the heartbeat will increase and as circulation is restricted their gums will become pale. They will be short of breath and start to become very weak.

This is a life-threatening condition and it is worse in large breed dogs and dogs with a deep chest. Breeds like German Shepherds, Boxers, Bassetts, Great Danes, Setters and St Bernards are prone to bloat.

It can be caused by many different factors and your vet can advise what to do. As raised bowls can cause the problem, avoid using them. Give them regular small meals rather than one or two big meals. Make sure they don’t run or play a lot before meals and make sure they are drinking the correct amount of water. It has been known to be brought on by stress so reducing stress can help them.

If they are affected a vet has many things they can do and will depend on the severity of the condition. A common thing vets do is to place a tube into their stomach to release the pressure build up. They sometimes place a hollow needle to their stomach to release the pressure if the stomach tube does not work. If they are in shock, they may give intravenous fluids and sometimes steroids or antibiotics.

They may X-Ray the dog to see the problem and sometimes they will have to operate to untwist the stomach. They can sometimes set the stomach so the problem does not occur again.

If you are worried that you may get bloat talk to your vet and discuss preventative measures.