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?