This article is reprinted here with permission from the author, for the education of all IW owners.
Thank you, Gael!

Signs of Bloat
by Gael Goldsack


Bloat is one of the words that strikes fear into the hearts of owners of deep chested breeds. As an owner of two such breeds, Bernese Mountain Dogs and Irish Wolfhounds, I decided to find out as much as I could about this condition - just in case!

The text books that mention bloat give very little information on the warning signs exhibited by a bloating dog. Most just say the dog may try to vomit unproductively, have difficulty in settling in the one spot, exhibit signs of being anxious and lastly may have a hard distended abdomen.

I received this excellent description of the textbook bloat signs from Alan Cowen from the Irish Wolfhound list:

The first sign you will see is RESTLESSNESS and just strange or NQR (not quite right) behavior. PACING back and forth and an unwillingness to lie down on their side is a good indicator. Many will lay down in a 'down' (Sphinx-like) position but will not roll onto one side or the other and will generally get up and pace again after a minute or so.

RAPID BREATHING is another sign that something is amiss. Very often I have seen the dog lay down in the 'down' position and then stretch its muzzle towards the ceiling as if to clear an airway. Sometimes the eyes roll back in their sockets at the same time.

DRY RETCHING normally follows, and then more rapid and shallow breathing.

You may not notice any swelling of the abdomen at all. IW's are very good at hiding a bloat.

In my experience bloat seems more likely to happen at night. It may or may not happen after eating. I am not a great believer in diet or the manner of eating as the major contributing factor. Obviously a dog that gulps and snorts its food is going to be a higher risk, but I have seen more bloat/torsion episodes following a stressful situation than anything else. Stress of whelping ... Stress of a dog show circuit or traveling..... Stress of boarding.... Unusual changes in the routine due to houseguests etc..... Alan

On further reading, mostly from Internet lists which described the personal experiences of dog owners, I began to realise that there were almost no two scenarios that were identical. There seemed to be far more warning signs picked up by dedicated dog owners than the few mentioned in the texts. Because of this, I requested anecdotes from owners who had witnessed an episode of bloat in one of their dogs. It didn't surprise me to discover that my feelings were correct.

Below are some of the scenarios described to me. I have tried to include the breed of dog where possible. I have also included those factors which the owner thought triggered the attack.


Stomach sounds - Irish Wolfhound (Carrie Mclean)

For what it's worth, go and have a listen to your hounds' tummies. Plop down on the floor and put your ear right on their belly. You will hear normal gurgle sounds, dollops and rumbles. When your dog is bloating, you will not hear these normal sounds---instead you will hear almost nothing. The act of bloating cuts off the normal activity. Hope this is of some help, if not at least the dogs will enjoy the extra attention!

NB The absence of normal digestive system sounds is not specific for bloat so don't take this as the only thing you check. An intestinal virus can cause either hyperactive sounds or no sounds. Usually the dog will then lie down when it feels bad, not stand and be uncomfortable. (Bill and Deborah)


Head hanging - Stress relationship ? - Irish Wolfhound (Elaine McMichael):

When Gus bloated, I figure it was stress related. We had tried to breed him the day before but were unsuccessful. I had overslept on that Friday for some shows and had gotten up at 5am instead of 4. Gus was standing there with his head down & just "didn't look right". I woke Sean up & we decided to go ahead & tube him. I am an RN & we had had a pony tube in our first aid box for about 3yrs as a just in case situation. I had listened to his belly and there weren't any bowel sounds that I could hear. The tube went in without any problem, but about 15 minutes later the tube would not slide without resistance. On talking with the vet we figured that is when he actually torsioned and had I not had the tube down, he would not have survived. Gus had no other signs or symptoms until that morning.

Another thing to relate - Gus' dad Dudley had also died of bloat.


Unusual posture, drooling – another stress response? – Irish Wolfhound (Kathie Lopez)

I acquired a IW last summer from the animal shelter. He was 6 1/2 yrs old. Within one month he had a bloat incident.

To backtrack in case it makes any difference, his owner left town and gave him to someone who kept him for 3 weeks and then dumped him at the local feed store who turned him in to the pound. At this point I saw him and his whole front muzzle around his nose was crusted with black scabs, his hair had been shaved and within days he had damaged the tip of his tail to the point of bleeding and then continued to lick at it. = his mental state is in question here.

I adopted him within a week of his entering the pound. Without medication his nose cleared up but I (being a dog trainer) noticed he did not like to be left alone for long especially when outside and he would bang at the gate with his nose. Could it be that they had confined him and he rubbed his nose raw trying to get out? = Stress. He was so bad about being left alone that I had to take him everywhere with me at first. I resorted to St. John's Wort and Rescue Remedy, a floral extract to try to calm him down. During all this he continued to lick at his tail which was in a constant state of blood oozing and dripping. I tried many bandages but he would remove them. = Stress response.

After 3 weeks, I had him with me at my shop where he was laying on a blanket (he had only eaten one cup of food in water about an hour prior, no physical exertion other than the step up and down into my car) very quietly he stood up took a drink of water and then within minutes threw it up (pure water) he wandered around and then heaved again this time only white foam. He lay back down but soon got up and continued this process about every 5 minutes heaving white foam. I could tell he looked like he was getting tired after about 20 minutes and he lay down on his chest, extended his neck straight out with ropes of drool pouring

down his mouth. I immediately called the vet as I suspected bloat and had him in and working on him within 10 minutes. X-rays showed a portion of his stomach flipped. Taking his age and the length of time I had owned him into consideration I decided not to do surgery. The vet placed a tube into his abdomen and flushed warm water in and out about 4 times and succeeded in getting the stomach to flip back again.

He was given a 75% chance it will happen again. I fed him smaller portions with water, don't let him exercise after eating but do run him at a gallop on the beach periodically. So far he's been fine.

I had always read about bloat being induced by food in the stomach and some kind of physical activity. Darby was doing none of this when this happened. All I can think of is that he lay down the wrong way?


Swollen tight abdomen – Irish Wolfhound (Jenny Durrance)

My almost three year old bitch Kahlua bloated in December. My husband noticed that she had gotten out of her crate during the afternoon while we were at work and had eaten a small hole in a bag of dog food that was in the dog room. It was not her food, It was KD dog food that one of our Berner's eats due to a liver shunt problem she was born with. He said that it didn't look like she ate much so he fed her at the regular mealtime along with our other dogs. After letting her outside for just a few minutes, when she came in he ran his hands along her sides as he always does all of our dogs when they come in from being outside. She felt tight as a drum just past the last rib. He asked me to feel her and she started to whine and fidget. We knew instantly she was in the first stages of bloat. We rushed her to our vet and the vet didn't think she was, however, after X-raying her stomach she said she definitely was in full bloat. As luck would have it, though, her stomach was not in torsion so she put a bloat tube down her but only got a little food out of her stomach. They instantly put an IV in her and kept her for two days to monitor her in case they had to operate. Thankfully, they didn't have to. We monitor her closely after eating and going outside.

Kahlua's mother bloated twice in her lifetime.


Textbook signs and hypothyroid – Irish Wolfhound (Joanna Nicolini)

My old guy O'Loughrea (just turned 9 last week!) first bloated in Nov 97 - Sunday afternoon, bless my vet's practice for always having someone on call! Early symptoms were restlessness - would NOT lie down, unsuccessful attempts to retch (that sound anywhere in the house will now forever bring me instantly out of a sound sleep), & distended belly. The vet was able to pass a tube & release gas. The vet's recommendations were gastropexy & simethicone. After the next episode, about a week later, I opted for the

gastropexy. When my vet did the pre-surgery blood work he discovered hypothyroid condition & put him on Soloxine, 1.2 mg 2x/day. O'L continued to bloat every 10 days or so for about 6 weeks, but I was able to treat him at home w/simethicone - human anti-gas sold here as Phazyme, Gas-X etc - & walks. After about as long as it took to get thyroid regulated, he pretty much stopped bloating, I have to feel there's a connection there, especially as common as both conditions are in older IW's. He does continue to have

'gas' occasionally, but it comes right out! Which, I always remind anyone in the house at the time, is a *good* thing! I would not be without a good supply of simethicone now, I think if caught early, before torsion, it can head off most bloat episodes.


Textbook signs and old age – Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Barbara Johnson)

Our almost 10-year old Swissy died of bloat last spring. She was active for her age and around 5:15 she was barking and bouncing around when my husband came home from work. She ate her meal and we ate ours. We worked in the yard until almost dark that evening. I think she was outside with us part of the

time. I began working in the kitchen when she was lying on the floor. She got up and walked into the dining room and lay under the table, a favorite spot of hers. I didn't pay much attention because her behavior was not unusual at this point. A few minutes later I heard her try to vomit. I said, "Must you go out?" She responded by running to the door. Again, I wasn't looking for anything. I let her out rather quickly. Then I heard trying to vomit. I went out expecting to see quite a pile, but found nothing. I called my husband and turned all the outside lights on. She continued with the dry heaves and then we noticed her large stomach. We immediately called the vet and put her in the car. The vet is about a 20 ride from our house. She was

able to get out of the car and walk in unassisted when we got there. Emergency surgery was performed that evening. She came through the surgery with no complications. Her vital organs were fine. She did not respond to treatment after that. That was Wednesday. By Friday evening when we went to see her, she barely lifted her head to us. I picked up her paw and it was dead weight in my hands. Her eyes were the saddest eyes you'd want to see. Sunday morning we got the call that she had died during the night. Her stomach gave way.


Restlessness, pleading eyes, and possible stress; air gulping in panic – Irish Wolfhound (Frankie Stoffer)

My first two IWs experienced bloat in very different ways.

Cully was 9 yrs 8 mos old and had cracked a rib slipping as he jumped into my Suburban, which I didn't know until the surgery days later. I had bathed him that day, which he hated. These two stressful incidents may have contributed. He seemed miserable that night, standing up, lying down, unable to get comfortable, and worst, he would come and stare beseechingly into my eyes, and I didn't know what to do!

I did take him to a vet, and I did tell them that I thought he was bloating, but they apparently had no experience with  and they kept saying, "Bloat? He's not bloated, look how thin he is!" They thought he had indigestion and kept giving him pills for it. If this happened today I would stick to my guns, but at the time I didn't have the confidence to argue with professionals. They finally, two days later, did surgery for what they had decided was a tumor, which turned out to be his spleen, twisted and engorged. They also noticed the cracked rib at that time. The surgery went well, but he was old and had suffered for several days, and he had a stroke and died without ever really coming out of the anesthesia.

Bloat symptoms are subtle if you have never seen it before.

Molly was my second IW, and her experience, which actually happened before Cully's, was very different.

She was 7 the first time it happened. Molly was frightened of thunderstorms and it was storming that night. I was asleep upstairs but actually woke up because of her panicky, gasping breathing downstairs (a mother's ear!). I'm sorry to say I didn't turn on the light, but I stroked her to soothe her, and was shocked to find it felt like she had swallowed two basketballs! Her sides bulged out, big and hard. I rushed her to the vet in the middle of the night. He looked at her thoughtfully and asked me some questions about her diet, habits, etc. Then he gave her a sedative. She began to expel gas from both ends and deflated while we watched.

Molly lived past 9 and never had another episode after that summer.


Restlessness, traumatic event and stress – Irish Wolfhound (Mary Mazzeri)

I've lost 2 to bloat. The first at 5 yrs. but was a spleen and stomach torsion resulting from being kicked by a horse. Traumatic onset. The other was an 8 yr. old bitch. She hadn't eaten in 24 hrs. We did have 2 'guest' IW's in the house and although she wasn't visibly upset to have them there, I'm sure it created some kind of stress situation. She went to bloat and torsion VERY fast -she seemed unsettled, couldn't get comfortable, refused her food. No vomiting, just the restlessness and she swelled in under an hour. By the time we made the vet there was heart damage and necrotic intestinal tissue involved. She didn't make it.


Textbook signs, stress related – Irish Wolfhound (Peter Daniels)

I have only experienced the "bloat" event once, I am grateful to say.

Let me try to put the events as they happened to us, in numerical order.

1) Murphy had stressful "life" situations for the prior 48 hrs. (draining and packing of anal glands by Vet. under anesthesia, and 24 hrs. previous to that meeting new dogs and new people, this was a big stress for Murphy)

2) I fed Murphy as usual an hour after bringing him home from his surgery! (Wish I hadn't, I still kick myself!!!!) About two hours after the feeding....roughly 9:00 pm in the evening things started to go wrong, he was restless.

3) Restlessness (as Alan Cowen said, a Not Quite Right behaviour, NQR) Murphy was also slightly drooling a bit, most unusual when there was no food around to bring this on.

4) Pacing, constantly....... and looking for us wherever we were around the house.

5) His stomach felt tight but not abnormally so, I don't think you can tell by the feel of the tummy.

This is when we felt there was a potential bloat and called the emergency Vet, roughly 20 minutes after the "NQR" started.

Murphy was at our emergency Vet within 45 minutes of us first sensing his problem, he indeed did have bloat but we were fortunate enough to have avoided the torsion etc.

Murphy was still in terrible shape and required heart medication, hospitalization, X-rays, you name it. BUT he was alive and stayed with us for a further two years or so!!


Textbook signs – Six month old Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Linda and Todd Coleman)

Unfortunately our Swissy, Stout, had a nasty bout of bloat at about 6 months of age & 95 pounds. The episode started late at night about midnight. I know some people think stress is a factor, but other than a longer than usual walk earlier that morning, there was nothing that fit with the usual indicators.

Stout started acting like he needed to throw up, but nothing ever came up. Being paranoid mom, & having read a little on bloat, when I noticed Stout's abdomen had become distended, I called the emergency vet in our area and they suggested we bring him in. It took us 30 minutes to get him there (we live in a somewhat remote area). He seemed to be doing alright & I was afraid that I had over reacted. The vet couldn't lavage Stout so they had to use a needle to pierce his stomach to let the gas escape. I think that was when they decided Stout needed surgery to reposition his stomach & tie it down. Luckily, there was no tissue damage & his heart rhythm was strong. In the end, Stout spent 3 days in the hospital and quite the scar running down the center of his belly.

As far as warning signs go, it was the unsuccessful vomit attempts coupled with the extended stomach that tipped me off. If I hadn't read about bloat previously I wonder if Stout would still be with us.


Textbook signs – Field Lab (Joan Williams)

Before we got Clancy, our IW, we had a large field lab (100 pounds) named Cody.

When he bloated and torqued, I did not know what either were so there may have been subtle signs that I didn't know to look for, but here's what I saw. Around midnight, he started being really restless. Get up, lay down. After about 2 minutes, that spot was no good - move to another, again after a short time he got up and moved again. Then he started dry-heaving. Nothing coming up. (Of course now whenever either dog starts heaving I follow them around to make sure something comes up). After moving around to different spots, he would stand in the corner with his head hanging down. By the time I got him to my vet the next morning, he was HUGE. You know how water buffalo look REALLY WIDE behind their ribs? That's what he looked like. My vet took one look at him and was kind enough to send us to a surgical specialist. He had his stomach tacked and after 5 days and $3,000 he lived for another 2 years til cancer took him.

He ate every meal of his whole life like it was his last. I literally had to move him from the kitchen to the carpeted living room when I was making his dinner because I almost slipped and killed myself in one

of his drool puddles. After the bloat/torsion episode the surgeon told us to: split his food into two feedings, soak the dry food, raise the feeding dish and rest him for 1 to 2 hours before and after feeding.

Cody was probably one of the least "stressed out" dogs I've ever known.


Hunched-up, distressed look in eyes, whining, post-mating, post-whelping stress? – Greater Swiss Mountain Dog (Julianne M Wilson)

What an insidious illness!!!! In 14 years we have had 5 dogs bloat---3 survived--3 with surgery. The 5th just drank too much water ( 2 times) and we pumped her tummy. She lived 11 years with no health problems. Now about the 4 others:

#1 --10 year old stud dog who had just bred a bitch--bloated 3 hours later—had surgery and 4 days later had his spleen removed as he was uncomfortable again--the first time he actually bloated right in front of us in about 5 minutes--we rushed him the 20 minutes to our vet who stopped everything and had him in surgery within 5 minutes. This stud dog is now 11 1/2 and is doing fine. ( no more breeding)

#2 --a bitch who had whelped 8 puppies 4 days previously and licked them incessantly--she was very uncomfortable and had the dry heaves--this was late at night so we rushed her to the emergency clinic 45 minutes away--she, too survived and came home to raise her puppies 4 days later. this happened at 4 years and she is 9 years old now with no recurrences. ( one more litter after that but we watched her like a hawk and tried to keep her from licking the pups so much)

# 3. Our oldest lady at 14 seemed very hunched over when we let her outside at 11 PM--her tummy was tight but she did not appear be bloated. We took her to the emergency clinic because of the look in her eyes that told us something was very wrong. She had been playing only a few hours before. X-rays showed a torsion but worse they showed her lungs were completely covered with lesions and her body was shutting down. She was 14 years old and we had to say goodbye that night.

# 4. our young French import bitch bloated late one evening--obviously bloated, whining and in pain. We rushed her to the emergency clinic , she also survived surgery and is fine---because she bloated at 2 1/2 we will not breed her as planned.


Restlessness, frothing at the mouth – Great Dane (Julie Hughes)

First of all I had never heard of bloat! It was Sunday evening (typical) and I live 40 miles from Savannah my vet being 17 miles away. Well, Bruney ate her dinner normally and went a lay down. Oh I must mention that Bruney was 11 years old, and 160 lb Gt Dane and very ladylike <BG> It was two hours later that she asked to go out. I went with her because I liked to make sure she was OK (her age) well she started pacing and fretting and then foaming just a little. I panicked and called the emergency vet in Savannah who said come immediately. We got her into the car and seemed almost normal, no more fretting and no more froth! We continued on our arrival the emergency vet took one look and had her up on the table. This stranger vet operated on her for over two hours, but it was two late and I had to let her go.

It seems to me that there are so many symptoms which is rathe r frightening. Bruney was perfectly fine and sleeping peacefully for two hours after her dinner. She did not ever have a sick day in her life either.


Restlessness – after excessive drinking – Irish Wolfhound (Marti)

We lost our first wolfhound to bloat. Even though we bought her I look back and consider her a rescue or a rehome. She had been a kennel dog all her life and shipped from Canada as a pup to our area of the US. She was a picky eater and very shy.... which improved with love and socialization.

The best thing the "breeder" did was tell me about bloat and the signs she was familiar with.

Brekke drank lots of water.... it was summer and hot so I thought normal she would not settle..... very unusual for her as she was the calmest of calm.

When she did lay down it was not on her side or curled up but laying upright. lots of panting... not the kid where "wow that was a fun game" but more childbirth breathing. when I felt her stomach it was like she had a football (american) stuck near the back end of her rib cage.

We took her to our vets, they sent us on to the University hospital an hour and a half away. she had emergency surgery and was back home in five days... About three months later she bloated again.... we treated at home with vets help... since she had had the tacking we knew she shouldn't torsion.... she died in the early am.. lots of things I would do differently from what I know now!

From my experience I think the temperament of a dog could be an indicator... as well as the body style.. Brekke was a large slender frame female. Rilka our second was a moose of a build shorter female... she ate underwear and they would go right thru.... Brekke would have had to have an operation to remove them.


Restlessness, drooling, head hanging, overactive – Great Dane (Casey Kilcullen)

My 10.5 year old Great Dane bloated last year on February 25, 1998. This dog was a great candidate for bloat from the day I got her. She was always jumping up and down right before she ate, she bolted down her food and then ran around right after she ate. Below is the time table of events of my first and only experience with bloat:

5:30 pm - Hayley is jumping up and down while greeting me as I come home from work.

6:30 pm - Hayley is fed. She is eager as always to eat her food. She "inhales" her food as she has done every day for the last ten years.

10:00 pm - I let Hayley in to go sleep in our room. She usually runs in full tilt into our bedroom and throws herself down on her rug. That night she walks slowly into the house, she is stiff leg and in great discomfort.

I ask her what is wrong, although I already know in my heart that she has bloated! Her abdomen is tight and distended, she is drooling, her head is hanging and she barely responds to me.

10:30 pm - We arrive at the emergency clinic. She is x-rayed and found to have a gastric torsion. Adding to the torsion is the fact that she also has neoplasias (tumors) in the stomach itself. Due to her age and the tumors, I elect to release her from her tremendous pain. I stayed with her the whole time, thanking her for being a part of my life and for teaching me how to be a better person because she entered my life. The Vet was kind and injected the solution into her hind leg so that Hayley could only see me, and not a stranger, as she left the world. I was very grateful to this Vet, even though I had never met her before since she was at the Emergency clinic and not my usual Vet office.

I think that having a compassionate Vet at these times makes it a lot easier to make the right decision. Although, I do have to say that I had already made up my mind to put her to sleep once I say the radiographs and I did not need to be convinced by the Vet. In addition, I felt that Hayley had also given up by the time we got to the Vet. So, that's my story. I hope I never have another to tell!

Thanks Casey for your timetable. That sure does give an idea of how quickly things can progress sometimes.

An acquaintance of mine had a Great Dane bloat at 10 years of age. After his breakfast, he disappeared out into the garden - this was a bit unusual as he was very much a house dog. She went out to find him lying under a shady bush and thought no more of it as it was a hot day. During the morning and early afternoon he moved frequently from one spot in the garden to another, not settling in one place for more than a few minutes. Still the alarm bells didn't ring. Finally, later in the afternoon, he settled in a strange posture under a bush near the house. His owner went out to check on him only to find him unconscious. She and two of her sons managed to get him into their van and drove him to the vet. He was in shock and too far gone and too old for them to try and revive him so he was given a lethal injection. Post mortem showed torsion with only a small degree of bloat. Gael.


Restlessness – Irish Wolfhound (Sue and Chris)

Our 9 year old Wolfhound bitch had bloat last September, the only visible sign that we picked up on and alerted us right away was the fact that she became very restless. We immediately checked her stomach but their were no outward signs of bloat, but on checking her again half an hour later, even though her stomach was not distended, it was firm and taught like a drum. We rushed her straight to the vet and by the time we got her there, 10 minutes later, she was in full bloat.

She happily survived the operation only to die 6 months later from a secondary infection from septic arthritis.


Restlessness, ? excessive drinking – Irish Wolfhound (Sue Lewington)

Barney was aged almost 10 when diagnosed with bone cancer in the front hock joint but it was early days and he still seemed bright enough so we continued with normal routines including taking him out with us whenever we went.

The day that he got bloat we had been to a dog show. He seemed happy enough during the day but after his dinner that night he was restless and drinking rather more than usual. I was a bit concerned and mentioned it to John but we thought that he was just a bit hot. There were no visible signs at that time. Some time during the night I heard him whimpering so got up and let him out (without putting on any lights - mistake no 1). I could hear him retching so thought that he must have a bit of an upset tummy and that had been the cause of his restlessness. He came back in and I went back to bed. A short time later he was crying again so this time I put on the light and could see that he had swelling around his middle, so I

called John and we phoned the vet (a relief vet at our own vets surgery) who met us at the surgery within about 15 minutes. By the time we got there Barney was in shock, however the vet did get a tube into the stomach to release the gas and liquid. The vet then recommended that we leave him there overnight on a drip and then the following day they would operate. However, when we explained that he already had bone cancer and was 10 years old, the vet recommended euthanasia then and there and we agreed.

The vet said that it was a possibility that the cancer had spread to his spleen and therefore caused a blockage but we did not have an autopsy carried out. We took him home and buried him.


Excessive drinking – Borzoi (Sue Lewington)

I have a friend who lost 2 Borzoi to gastric torsion during the last year and the autopsies showed that neither of them had any food in their stomachs at all. It seems to me that they drink a lot once the bloat has started, I guess to get rid of the nasty feeling in their stomach.


Overactive, excitable, jumping on and off bed – Irish Wolfhounds (Charles Padgett)

I have a Scottish Deerhound, six and a half, large, 130lbs, and a three month old IW puppy, Mosby. I've owned six deerhounds and none has experienced bloat. Mosby is the 6th wolfhound and two died from bloat. What was common for both was the suddenness of the condition. Both wolfhounds became erratic in behavior, jumping on and off the bed in an excitable state. With the first wolfhound I had no idea what was happening. With the second, six years later, I had no doubt. Neither hound lived more than two days after vet treatment. There were no other behavior traits or medical signs noticeable. I don't recall either dog showing signs of ill health before the onset.


Pacing and heavy breathing – Doberman (Louise Southworth)

I had a Doberman, approx 10 yrs of age. He always gulped his food as if he hadn't eaten for days. Only bloat symptoms I saw were him pacing and some heavy breathing. Took him to the vet's after onset of symptoms which was only about half an hour. Obviously he looked in distress in his pacing, but I couldn't tell what was wrong.

Immediate bloat was relieved through tubing. Had his stomach tacked, along with removal of spleen and pyloric valve removed. Always fed him in a raised bowl after that, three times a day to decrease load on stomach. He lived to the ripe old age of 16.


Agitated, pacing – Irish Wolfhound (Mary Jacob)

Thank God I have only had one IW bloat but it was my ultimate HeartHound and it was back a few years ago when vets believed the dog could not survive surgery immediately and had to be "stabilized" first (for several days) Bran bloated at about five in the afternoon in his sleep having not eaten since seven am and having napped most of the day. The tip off for me was that he became agitated and pacing which was not like him at all. He never tried to vomit or belch. His belly did enlarge and become tympanic and he was rushed

to the vet immediately. We were able to tube him so the stomach had not torsed totally. He was stable and comfortable and he was put on IVs and watched for three days. At surgery it was found his spleen and intestines had torsed and the bowel died and ruptured three days after surgery. He was put down due to massive intestinal necrosis. Bran was 5.6 years old.


Panting, trying to burp, lip licking – Bernese Mountain Dog (Dino Candelaria)

Diver came in one night looking odd. She was urping - not a burp but the same kind of motion. She was also licking her chops a lot. She had eaten weeds (we don't have real grass) and thrown them up and I was afraid it was some weed toxicity. But when I felt her stomach it felt full. It did not look really big and bloated but it was not soft and pliable like it usually is after a meal, even if it is full. She was panting and just looked and acted uncomfortable. She would sit but would not lie down. (Lying down being the norm for the evening after coming in from the yard and the initial hellos-again-are finished)

I called my vet who told me about the shake down but due to a family crisis told me to go to emergency. By the time we arrived she had quit panting, had burped - you could tell by the smell in the van, was no longer licking her chops and was acting comfortable even laying on the seat of the van. Her

tummy was still taut so they took X-rays. There was no twisting and the gas was now on the way through the intestines. We left her there for observation through the night. She was okay the next day without surgery. I think the shakedown helped keep things straight and helped move the gas on its way out.


Eating rubbish, concentrated urine, excessive drinking, etc – Golden Retriever (Carol Slider)

My 8 yr old Golden retriever, Sergeant, died of bloat about 5 yrs ago, in my arms on the way to the vets.

Signs that I did NOT pick up on prior to his death: (about 24 hours)

1. He started eating small stones and twigs

2. His urine was very yellow and had a strong odor

3. He drank more water than usual.

4. His stool was dark in color and smaller than usual.

5. He seemed more restless.

I had never experienced Bloat before, thinking at that time it only occurred in larger breed animals (Gr Danes, horses, cattle, etc).

We had just returned from the grocery when I found him on the kitchen floor in his own urine and not able to get up. I thought he had suffered a stroke and called the emergency vet immediately (was on a Sunday). Before we arrived at the vets office, he died in my arms and his stomach was very bloated.


Textbook signs – Bernese Mountain Dog (Peggy Ford-Smith)

I had a partial torsion in my then 14 month old Berner. She had just had her breakfast and she started to look distressed. She ran around a lot, tried to vomit but nothing came up, ran outside and to eat grass. She was clearly in discomfort. Of course, it was on the weekend so we had to take her to an emergency veternarian. They did an xray and discovered the partial torsion. I don't know enough about bloat to know if this would have gone into a full torsion if left unattended, but I suspect so. This was a dog that would belch after every meal. I am not talking about a little burp, I am talking about a deep from the gut, nasty smelling belch every time. In doing a little research, on the web and on Pat Long's site I learned that this is a sign of possible bloating. Miller survived her episode of bloat but died in recovery after surgery to have her stomach tacked to prevent future torsion. I still feel I made the right decision to have the surgery. I never would have been able to leave her alone and everyone was in agreement that this was the best course to take. She had other genetic health problems that we were aware of, and I think that her heart couldn't handle the surgery.


Sneezing fits – Bernese Mountain Dog (Toni)

Our Maggie (then 3 1/2 yrs), last year at this time, started to have fits of sneezing (many strong, deep sneezes in a row--as many as a dozen at once) after going outside. We assumed it was spring allergies, but did look carefully up her nose and around the yard, finding nothing unusual. We were very busy with extended family for Passover time, but she was right with us in the house as always and not neglected. After one particularly sneezy day (perhaps three or four prolonged sneezing attacks), she was deep asleep at 2:00 A.M., jumped up in severe distress, retching and with her body in a complete upside down U shape--to make a long and horrifying story short, she had complete stomach volvulus and torsion, and we came this close to losing her, with heart complications, etc. etc. All the vets who consulted (she ended up at Univ of California at Davis Vet School with a 28" incision--I told you it was a long and yucky story) along the way would not commit to the sneezing as the direct cause, but were very interested (i.e., writing, writing on her records) and definitely would not rule it out. Don't ignore it, and talk to your vet before it becomes worse, just in case the sneezing leads to bigger trouble.


Goldfish impersonation – Irish Wolfhound (Michelle Patison)

Topaz bloated after attending the parade of veterans at our specialty show a couple of years back. Showing was not one of Topaz’s favourite pastimes, so in hindsight, she was probably stressed by the experience. Topaz was fed her evening meal as usual, and checked about an hour later and was fine. When checked late evening, she was lying in her usual position and appeared to be quite normal, except for opening and closing her mouth like a goldfish. Her abdomen felt tight and drum-like, but not noticeably distended. She was taken to the vet as it was obvious that all was not well with her. Fifteen minutes later at the Vets, Topaz blew up like a balloon before our eyes, but luckily we had acted quickly and she hadn’t torsioned. Topaz recovered from this experience and went on to live another 18 months, just short of her 10th birthday.


Strange noise – Irish Wolfhound (Carol Maciver)

The first thing that alerted me to my first case of bloat was a very strange noise indeed. It sounded like a cross between a cough and an unproductive vomiting noise. As this was my first experience of bloat, so after a phone call to someone who owned Borzois and had had the experience, it was a matter of a quick trip to the vet.


Moaning, arched back – Irish Wolfhounds, Bloodhounds (Kim Gunther)

I have had three of my beloved hounds bloat and torsion in my 19 years in breeding.

The first was "Yonnie" at age 2.5 years. He had been fed his usual meal at 6pm and checked before I went to bed around 10:30pm. At 4am I was woken by the sound of a deep moaning. I found Yonnie standing with his back arched (Borzoi fashion) and his stomach was distended. At 4:20am after a dash to the vet Yonnie was tubed as thankfully, he hadn’t torsioned. His stomach contents had not been digested at all. Yonnie survived this ordeal and never had another episode. He lived to over 10 and died of cancer.

My second bloat by be Bloodhound bitch "Bungie". Bungie had whelped a litter of 10 pups 2 weeks previously. She was fed a light breakfast and as the pups were all asleep, I let her out into the yard to stretch her legs. After about 5 minutes, I found Bungie standing in the yard, bright eyed and wagging her tail but with a fully distended stomach. She was excited to ride in the car for a very fast trip to the vets where it was discovered she had torsioned. Bungie survived the surgery to untwist her stomach and remove her spleen. Again, this was the one and only time she bloated and went on to live to the age of nine.

The third case of bloat was my 5 year old Wolfhound, Dara. Dara was fed as usual, but 10 minutes later she was standing at the back door whingeing and whining. I checked him over and his stomach did not feel any fuller than it did normally after a meal. He was very restless and would not settle, just wanted to pace. After 10 minutes of this behaviour, I took Dara to the vet. Dara had torsioned, so that meant immediate surgery. It was touch and go for a week post-op., and just when I thought he was out of the woods, his temperature went sky high and he became very ill again. After only 6 days since his first lot of surgery, Dara was back on the operating table to have some of his stomach lining removed which had died as a result of the previous torsion and lack of circulation to the area. I am very pleased to say that Dara went on to fully recover. He will be 8 years old this July.


If you have read this far, you will see, as I suspected, that in a lot of cases of bloat the textbook signs are absent. All I can say is, that if you find your dog is acting in any way that is out of the ordinary for him and you can’t be sure of the reason, (as in Alan’s Not Quite Right behaviour) get him to the vet as soon as possible. It is better to look foolish than to lose your dog to bloat.

Time is of the essence with bloat. Those dogs that have been saved were taken to the vet within a short time of the onset of the warning signs.

The other thing that struck me is that there seems to be a temperament type that is predisposed to bloat. Those dogs that "inhale their food" like every meal is their last and are excitable, overly active or may stress easily seem to be prime candidates.


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