Bloat In Small Dogs
You know if you eat too much junk food, your stomach is going to hurt. Most likely this is from bloat, a rapid build-up of gas in your digestive system. It’s really uncomfortable and painful and something you probably want to avoid. Even though it is a painful discomfort to humans, it normally will go away on its own with time. This isn’t true for small dogs. In some cases, bloat can be fatal to small dogs or any dog in general.
Dogs have a similar digestive system to humans. Depending on what you eat, you probably tend to get bloated. Well, your small dog is the same way. This can cause pain and discomfort for your dog but it can also be life-threatening so it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of bloat. It is also important to know what to do if your dog is bloated and how you can prevent it.
What Causes Bloat?
Size of the Dog
Bloating is more common in larger dogs because of their body shape. They are long and have a barrel-shaped chest. As they grow older, their ligaments that hold the stomach get weaker thus, causing bloat. Just because a dog isn’t big doesn’t mean that they won’t experience bloat. Small dogs like Dachshunds, small terrier breeds, and Yorkies have all been known to become bloated. Being aware of what causes this is important because it could possibly help prevent bloat in your small dog.
It has been said that genetics can play a large part in instances in bloat in dogs. If a dog has a parent, brother, sister, or even their own offspring who had suffered from torsion, it is more likely to be susceptible to the same disease. If you know that your dog has a family history of this, it is defiantly something you should keep a lookout for.
The age of the dog is a risk factor for bloat in small dogs. As stated above, as a dog ages, its stomach muscles become weaker and are more susceptible to torsion related to bloat as the dog ages. If your dog is getting up there in age, be sure you know the symptoms of bloat and make sure you talk to your vet about ways to prevent it.
Small dogs who are highly stressed and anxious tend to get bloat more often than those who are more happy-go-lucky.
Speed of Eating
For dogs that gulp their food and stuff it down quickly, it is more likely that they will experience bloat. If you feed your dog one big meal, once per day, they will probably gobble it up quickly without taking breaths. This gulping in air will lead to bloat. To avoid this, give your dog smaller, more frequent meals to cut down the speed in which they eat.
A dog’s diet plays are large role in preventing bloat. Dry dog food that is high in fat has an increased risk of causing bloat in dogs than those with a higher percentage of rendered meat in them. Also, dry dog food that is high in citric acid has a very high impact on the prevalence of bloat in dogs. Alternatively, small dogs who eat canned dog food or prepared food seemed to have a decreased risk of bloat.
Exercise Before Eating
You don’t feel great if you go for a run right after or before eating. Your stomach isn’t ready for food. Well, neither is a dog’s. To decrease the risk of bloat in small dogs (or large for that matter), do not feed them before or after a walk or run. Exercising with a belly full of food can cause bloat and torsion. Give them enough time to cool down after exercise. This will give all of their muscles, especially their stomach muscles a chance to rest.
How to Prevent Bloat In Small Dogs
There are a few things you can’t prevent such as age, size, and genetics of a dog. However, if your small dog is at risk for bloat, there are some precautions you can take. As listed above, feed your dog smaller, more frequent meals to cut down on the speed of eating.
- Feed them healthy foods by either giving them canned food or food you prepare for them at home. If you must give them dry food, make sure it doesn’t have a high fat or citric acid content.
- Don’t allow your dog to eat if it has been out running. Alternatively, don’t take them out for any type of exercise if they have recently eaten.
- If your vet has determined that your dog might be more at risk for bloat, follow the vet’s orders on how to prevent it. They may be able to give you medication to give to your dog to decrease those risks.
What Does Bloat Look Like In Small Dogs?
If a dog’s stomach becomes too bloated it will push up against the diaphragm and cause breathing problems for the dog. The bloating can also prevent the flow of blood to the heart. While bloating in humans isn’t a serious problem, it defiantly is for dogs. If you notice any of these signs and symptoms in your dog, it is important to seek medical attention right away. It doesn’t take long for bloat to become a life-threatening situation for your small dog so professional help is essential.
Try to imagine how you look and feel when you are bloated. Your stomach is a bit hard and distended and you are in pain. If your dog has a bloated and distended abdomen and is acting like it is in pain, this might be a good sign that it is bloated. They also might drool and pant more than usual.
A major sign to look out for is if your dog is trying to vomit but nothing is coming up. This can indicate that the bloat has cause torsion and the stomach is unable to release the liquid in their stomach. If it isn’t torsion, the stomach might just be so bloated that it is blocking any vomit that is trying to expel the body.
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms in your dog, it is very important to get medical help right away. Even a few hours can make a difference between life and death for your little dog. Bloating is a very serious condition in dogs and you can not “wait and see” if it gets better like you can with humans.
What You Should Do
There are no home remedies for bloat in dogs. If the bloating has already happened, it is too late to do anything about it from home. Get them to a vet as soon as possible. If it is after hours for your regular vet, get them to an emergency vet right away.
Once at the vet, they will run tests and do X-rays to determine the severity of the bloat. Once determined that bloat is the cause of the problem, surgery is the only way to treat your dog. They must surgically go into the abdomen and untwist the stomach and then suture it to the abdomen wall. Sadly, even with treatment, not all dogs will recover from bloat. However, if a dog does survive the surgery, they will most likely recover and be back to the old self soon.
The prognosis is worse for dogs who have been bloated for longer. The sooner they see the vet, the better chance of survival. If you notice any symptoms of bloat, get them to a vet as soon as possible. As stated above, do not take a wait and see approach. This will not get better on its own.
If your dog is more susceptible to bloat, then be sure to take the steps to prevent it from happening. There are certain types of surgeries that can be done for at-risk dogs to prevent torsion. However, if you want to avoid surgery, there are other ways to help prevent bloat.
Feed them a healthy diet that includes prepared food or canned food. Do not feed them food that is high in fat or citric acid. When they do eat, do not feed them one large meal. Give them smaller meals throughout the day or leave the food dish out for them to snack on.
Be sure they have plenty of drinking water at all times. If you have an anxious dog, try to keep them calm. Do not let little dogs run around and then come eat and do not take them for walks right after a meal.
The thought of losing your little dog to bloat is a scary thought so you want to do whatever you can to avoid this situation. Talk to your vet about the best preventative measures you should be taking to avoid bloat in your small dogs.
While their digestive tracts are similar to humans, things are a bit more compact in their bodies. In humans, our digestive tracts go with the flow of gravity so food can digest easier for us. This isn’t the case for dogs. If a small dog experiences bloat, the amount of bloat can cause the stomach to rotate and create torsion. This can be extremely dangerous and will require emergency surgery or, if the dog is in too much shock, require the dog to be put down.