Gastric Torsion - BLOAT - in Weimaraners
Here is the presentation delivered by Dr Giselle Hosgood delivered at Murdoch University. The Weimaraner Club of WA hosted this event for dog breeders and pet owners to learn more about this condition.
Gastric torsion is the combination of at least two conditions; excessive bloating and the mechanical rotation of the stomach from its normal position. Bloat can occur seemingly out of the blue to dogs of any age, but it is most common in deep chested breeds.
If you suspect your dog is suffering from gastric torsion (bloat) you MUST go to the vet immediately!
There have been many studies on this condition and there is a lot of research you can read on the internet. This is only a very brief summary of some of the findings:
Factors in one study that were found to increase the risk of bloat:
1. Increased age
2. Having a first degree relative who has bloated
3. Deep, narrow abdomen
5. Feeding only once a day
6. Fearful, easily upset dogs
7. Raising the food bowl
8. Rapid eaters
Factors in same study which did NOT appear to influence the risk:
1. Moistening food
2. Exercise before or after mealtime
3. Change of weather
5. Unrestricted access to water before or after mealtime
Recommendations offered as a result, in ONE study:
1. Feed smaller, multiple meals instead of one big meal a day
2. Do NOT elevate the food bowl
3. Slow rapid eaters down by placing an object in the bowl they have to eat around
It was also suggested, in another study, to include long term maintenance doses of a probiotic to your dog. One brand your vet can sell you is 'Protexin', or you can obtain probiotics from a good pharmacy or health food stores.
Some warning signs of bloat:
1. Sudden restlessness
2. Increased salivation
3. Successful or unsuccessful vomiting
4. Abdominal swelling
Another study listed the early signs of bloat as follows:
1. Restlessness, or appearing 'not quite right'
3. Rapid breathing
4. Dry retching
5. Often (but not always) occurs at night
The importance of early and immediate vet intervention cannot be stressed enough! Call your Vet, Murdoch Hospital or the other 24 hour vet service; Perth Vet Specialists in Balcatta if you have any concerns that your dog might have bloat.
Many studies have been done to try to pin down the cause of bloat, but most research is inconclusive. However, some causes have NOT been discounted; sudden changes in diet, recent de worming, vaccinations, antibiotics, exposure to high stress situations. Many dogs that develop bloat have been described as nervous, highly strung or easily stressed. However it must be pointed out that this is also not always the case.
There IS a surgical procedure that can be done to prevent the painful twisting of the stomach called gastropexy surgery. Speak to your vet about this if you think your Weimaraner might be predisposed to gastric torsion. This procedure must be done by a specialist. There are a few links below to help you learn more about this procedure:
Many thanks to Val and Narelle at Greydove for allowing sections of their 'Puppy Pack' to be used in research for this article.