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AKC Canine Health Foundation to Fight Bloat in Dogs

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January 22, 2013

AKC Canine Health Foundation to Fight Bloat in Dogs

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.

From the press release:
CHF has released a Bloat Initiative Request for Proposals (RFP) to the research community. Letters of Intent (LOI) from researchers seeking funding are due on March 18, 2013. Researchers with an interest in gastrointestinal physiology are encouraged to apply for this grant. A committee of experts in the field will review the LOI and CHF will invite selected researchers to submit full proposals. Funding decisions will be announced by October 1, 2013. “Bloat is devastating for dog owners when it occurs. Through this major funding effort, researchers, for the first time, will have the resources they need to work towards establishing the causes and pre-dispositions for bloat,” said Dr. Shila Nordone, Chief Scientific Officer of CHF. “Once we understand why bloat occurs we will have better treatment options and possibly be able to prevent the syndrome from occurring in the first place.”

That is excellent news for dog owners. In addition to the research, CHF will launch a free webinar in mid-2013 to help educate dog owners about bloat. It will include information describing possible causes of bloat, susceptible breeds, symptoms, medical intervention, and explanation of research needed.

“Because bloat progresses so rapidly, part of our focus is on educating the public on the signs and symptoms to look for if they suspect their dog may have bloat,” said Nordone in the press release.

This is a webinar I definitely plan on attending. In the meantime, here are a few links for additional info on bloat. This link provides a fairly comprehensive summary of bloat; what it is, how to recognize it, possible causes, etc. 

The CHF will also provide continuing education for veterinarians showing surgical procedures used for prevention during spay and neuter.

Has anyone else ever lost a dog to bloat or gastric torsion?

Comments (2)

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Great links! I have never known anyone who lost a dog to bloat ... till now. Sorry to hear that, Chad.

I now know that I need to add Gasex to my emergency kit along with Benidryl. I also learned that I was unnecessarily imperiling my dogs for some time when I switched to Purina products this fall. Pearl was off her feed during chemotherapy and she ate that stuff better. But it turned the air green around my house ... for all three dogs. Problem solved when I went back to the old brand after Pearl got sorted out. Consistent farting is not a good sign! This would also seem to confirm my constant preaching about the virtues of raising a hunting dog in the home as opposed to kenneling it outside. Stress is at the top of the causation list for bloat. Clearly, dogs that are left in kennels outside have much more opportunity to become agitated - birds in the yard, someone walking their dog down the street, mailman coming by, etc. And worst of all, as we all know, any time someone from the house walks outside the kenneled dog goes ape trying to get some attention. Again, stress can be dangerous and if there's another way, I say go with it. Dogs raised in the house are generally not allowed to get as agitated (because a constantly agitated dog in the house will drive any owner with a lick of sense out of his mind!). Dogs can be kenneled in the home through the work day very easily. I use a pop-up wire crate and it works very well. It also seems my preaching about breaking up the dog's feeding to twice a day is also good advice, especially for gulping greedy types like my lab Opal. I could not empty her dish with a supercharged shop vac as fast as she does! Anyway, lots of good tips in these links. Everyone must read them!

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from k9couple wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

My wife and I over 30 years of breeding and exhibiting dogs have had a dozen or so bloats/gastric volvulus episodes - saved quite a few by recognizing early symptoms, reacting with our own designed "bloat kit." Of course, the at-home decompression just buys time to get to the vet for the gastropexy. Our kit consists of an Edlich Gastric Lavage tube (a three foot piece of garden hose with the ends tapered with a jack-knife actually worked once) - a roll of adhesive tape is put in the dog's mouth to hold it open for passage of the tube through the center hole of the adhesive tape roll, an Ace bandage wrapped around the muzzle helps hold it in place. The tube is passed providing the torsion hasn't twisted the esophagus such that you can't pass the tube - depends upon the stage of bloat. Some bloats are just straight bloats w/o torsion. Even if there is some torsion, you might be able to force the tube through - not too hard - through. The esophagus is very tough and takes a lot to perforate, but the possibility exists if you are too aggressive. Fogging in the tube and maybe even a "whooshing" sound indicates you are in the stomach. If you are knowledgeable of anatomy and are brave enough, you can percutaneously introduce a needle through the dog's skin and into the stomach - exept for the most experienced, it should be left for the Vet. A little Turbogesic helps calm the animal. We have had numerous successful gastropexies - many Vets are not trained to do one, so you have to scout out a Vet who has done many of them - prior, of course, to encountering a bloat. We have actually saved more than we have lost. Still, a nasty thing to encounter. One last word, be sure to call the Vet's office and let them know that you are coming in with a bloat, so they will be ready. The girl at the front desk may not triage the case due to inexperience, so make sure you tell her that it is a life and death situation. Once, even at a University Vet/School clinic, I had to rip into a girl at the front desk because she was busy on the phone planning her Saturday night activities with her girlfriend. Once I realized she was talking and laughing with a friend, I told her if she didn't want me to hang her phone up for her, she had better triage us through to a Vet. Lots of stories out there - including one where my Vet (in his pajamas at his house at 6:00 AM) and I set up a grooming table in his front yard, hit the dog with Turbogesic, cut his garden hose, beveled the end,and lavaged the stomach until contents gone & water clear, then drove the dog to his office for the gastropexy. We feed corn-free diet due to corn products fermenting in stomach, and follow other protocol to reduce the incidence. We, as responsible AKC breeders, have taken part in the Cornell University Bloat Study.

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from Ontario Honker ... wrote 1 year 12 weeks ago

Great links! I have never known anyone who lost a dog to bloat ... till now. Sorry to hear that, Chad.

I now know that I need to add Gasex to my emergency kit along with Benidryl. I also learned that I was unnecessarily imperiling my dogs for some time when I switched to Purina products this fall. Pearl was off her feed during chemotherapy and she ate that stuff better. But it turned the air green around my house ... for all three dogs. Problem solved when I went back to the old brand after Pearl got sorted out. Consistent farting is not a good sign! This would also seem to confirm my constant preaching about the virtues of raising a hunting dog in the home as opposed to kenneling it outside. Stress is at the top of the causation list for bloat. Clearly, dogs that are left in kennels outside have much more opportunity to become agitated - birds in the yard, someone walking their dog down the street, mailman coming by, etc. And worst of all, as we all know, any time someone from the house walks outside the kenneled dog goes ape trying to get some attention. Again, stress can be dangerous and if there's another way, I say go with it. Dogs raised in the house are generally not allowed to get as agitated (because a constantly agitated dog in the house will drive any owner with a lick of sense out of his mind!). Dogs can be kenneled in the home through the work day very easily. I use a pop-up wire crate and it works very well. It also seems my preaching about breaking up the dog's feeding to twice a day is also good advice, especially for gulping greedy types like my lab Opal. I could not empty her dish with a supercharged shop vac as fast as she does! Anyway, lots of good tips in these links. Everyone must read them!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from k9couple wrote 1 year 10 weeks ago

My wife and I over 30 years of breeding and exhibiting dogs have had a dozen or so bloats/gastric volvulus episodes - saved quite a few by recognizing early symptoms, reacting with our own designed "bloat kit." Of course, the at-home decompression just buys time to get to the vet for the gastropexy. Our kit consists of an Edlich Gastric Lavage tube (a three foot piece of garden hose with the ends tapered with a jack-knife actually worked once) - a roll of adhesive tape is put in the dog's mouth to hold it open for passage of the tube through the center hole of the adhesive tape roll, an Ace bandage wrapped around the muzzle helps hold it in place. The tube is passed providing the torsion hasn't twisted the esophagus such that you can't pass the tube - depends upon the stage of bloat. Some bloats are just straight bloats w/o torsion. Even if there is some torsion, you might be able to force the tube through - not too hard - through. The esophagus is very tough and takes a lot to perforate, but the possibility exists if you are too aggressive. Fogging in the tube and maybe even a "whooshing" sound indicates you are in the stomach. If you are knowledgeable of anatomy and are brave enough, you can percutaneously introduce a needle through the dog's skin and into the stomach - exept for the most experienced, it should be left for the Vet. A little Turbogesic helps calm the animal. We have had numerous successful gastropexies - many Vets are not trained to do one, so you have to scout out a Vet who has done many of them - prior, of course, to encountering a bloat. We have actually saved more than we have lost. Still, a nasty thing to encounter. One last word, be sure to call the Vet's office and let them know that you are coming in with a bloat, so they will be ready. The girl at the front desk may not triage the case due to inexperience, so make sure you tell her that it is a life and death situation. Once, even at a University Vet/School clinic, I had to rip into a girl at the front desk because she was busy on the phone planning her Saturday night activities with her girlfriend. Once I realized she was talking and laughing with a friend, I told her if she didn't want me to hang her phone up for her, she had better triage us through to a Vet. Lots of stories out there - including one where my Vet (in his pajamas at his house at 6:00 AM) and I set up a grooming table in his front yard, hit the dog with Turbogesic, cut his garden hose, beveled the end,and lavaged the stomach until contents gone & water clear, then drove the dog to his office for the gastropexy. We feed corn-free diet due to corn products fermenting in stomach, and follow other protocol to reduce the incidence. We, as responsible AKC breeders, have taken part in the Cornell University Bloat Study.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

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