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New About Bloat?
is a very scary subject for most Sammy owners, so anything new we can
learn is of vital importance to saving the lives of our furry family
members. Bloat, and the
often accompanying stomach torsion, is a very serious life-threatening
disease that leaves us little time for guessing what to do.
In October, 2001, Jane Biggerstaff, DVM, from Texas, presented a
large audience at the Samoyed National Specialty with the basics of
bloat, and the results of the new research she has been following.
I think her information deserves an even larger audience because
of the importance of the old knowledge, and the significance of the new.
Indeed, I hope readers will cut this article
out and hang it on their kennel walls for quick reference.
Her most vital message: bloat is extremely serious, so anyone even suspecting that their dog is suffering from it should get to their vet immediately if not sooner. DO NOT wait around trying to tube your dog yourself unless you are many miles from your veterinarian, because there is too much danger that the dog can be further injured rather than helped. Even of those dogs whose disease is detected and veterinarian help is given, some will die, because the surgery itself has more complications than most, and/or because the problem was detected too late.
Dr. Biggerstaff said that males six to nine years old are the most
common bloat victims, any dog any age can get it.
I know this to be true because my eleven-and-one-half-year-old
Sammy bitch came down with it in September of this year.
Puppies are not exempt, either.
She reviewed the symptoms of bloat that a dog may present. She listed:
Another symptom observed in my dog when she bloated was walking very slowly and painfully with a roached back.
Biggerstaff also warned, however, that dogs can exhibit any combination,
or none of these.
of the most interesting new information she presented was in her list of
causes or predisposing factors that can lead to bloat.
She said that bloat occurs when dogs swallow air for any reason,
and that anything that delays emptying from the stomach can contribute
to bloat. Analysis of the
gases in the stomachs of bloated dogs showed that the gases were just
plain air, not fermented food, as had previously been supposed.
Predisposing factors to air retention include:
last piece of information was quite startling and illuminating to me
because none of the other predisposing factors had been present with my
older bitch. However, the
week before, she had had surgery for mammary tumors, and had a drain
installed. When I took her
back to the veterinarian a week later for a check-up, he found that a
small membrane had grown across the drain hole, and had dammed up serum
behind it. He had to
puncture the membrane, and then use his fingers to move the serum out of
the drain. He spent several
minutes running his fingers down her abdomen to eject the serum.
I took her home, and less than two hours later she bloated.
The abdominal manipulation was the only predisposing factor she
procedures the veterinarian uses to treat bloat are, first to expel the
gas from the stomach, and second to tack the stomach to the rib cage
wall so it will not torse (twist) again.
She said that there are at least eight different surgical
procedures for stomach tacking from which your veterinarian can choose,
though she did not describe them for lack of time.
what can we do to prevent bloat? Dr.
Biggerstaff recommended that:
This last piece of information was new to my veterinarian, because in medical school they were taught to use raised food bowls to help with some conditions such as problems with the esophagus. However, he said it made sense to use the raised food bowls only if there was a problem, and not as a matter of routine.
Note: First published in the Winter 2001-2002 Samoyed Quarterly. Thank you Pam for taking such good lecture notes and sharing the information with us.