By Chad Love
If there's one thing that both mystifies and terrifies dog owners, it's the little-understood, often fatal condition known as bloat. This is when a dog's stomach fills up with an abnormal amount of air, fluids, and/or foam, causing it to swell and twist on itself. This can lead to low blood pressure, shock and damage to internal organs. Unless it is noticed and treated quickly with surgery, it's almost always fatal—often within hours. Any dog can develop bloat, but it is common in large-breed and deep-chested dogs like retrievers.
I lost Lewey (pictured here)—my beloved dog-of-a-lifetime, a four-year-old male chess—to bloat. There isn't a worse, more horrible feeling in the world than finding a perfectly healthy dog dead in his kennel, knowing he died in that manner. So I was thrilled when the AKC Canine Health Foundation announced The Bloat Initiative, an effort to research and battle bloat, in a press release.