LOWDOWN Winter 2012 page 29
HOUND HEALTH ☆ BLOAT
by Sally King
BLOAT is a word to strike fear into any hound-lover’s heart. And if it doesn’t, it should.
Rolph reminded me of the need to be ever-vigilant a couple of months back. He was lying on the sofa (where of course, he is not allowed) and started gulping air, almost taking bites out of nothing. This was followed by manic licking - licking his feet, licking the sofa, licking the air - then back to the gulping, then gagging.
Bloat is a condition where a dog’s stomach fills with air and then twists. This is called torsion and once that has happened, your dog’s chance of survival drops as swiftly as your vet bill mounts.
It is fatal. Speed is the most important factor. If you can get your dog to the vet before the twist, they can hopefully avoid torsion. If the gut twists, the blood flow is cut off and the gut begins to die. At this point you are looking at expensive surgery - with no guarantees.
Rolph is not generally a particularly drooly dog, but suddenly there were strings of it dangling from his choppers. I was getting uneasy. A few friends had lost their beloved bassets to bloat and it was clear Rolph was racking up the symptoms.
He jumped off the sofa and tried to make himself comfortable elsewhere. It didn’t seem to work. I felt his stomach, and thankfully it wasn’t distended - I’d heard a bloating dog can have a stomach like “a football” - but I wasn’t going to take any chances.
I rang the veterinary nurse. She asked me to check the colour of his gums - bright red. The advice was to get him to vetspital as quick as possible.
I don’t know what it is about my dogs, but both of them will always time their emergencies for out of hours, when the fees rocket to £100 to step over the threshold. This was no exception. The duty vet was waiting for us as we pulled into the car park. I opened the back of the car and Rolph jumped out, stretched and began sniffing around. There was no sign of gulping air, drooling, licking, or an expanding waistline.
I looked at the vet. She raised an eyebrow. I told her what had happened, but we both agreed there was no sign of it. Once we were home though he still wasn’t able to settle, so the next morning we were back. Rolph spent a couple of days there, but only for an upset stomach. We were lucky.
One of the oddities of bloat is that not all dogs show all symptoms. Any more than two and you are often advised to get it checked.
Despite there being lots of theories, no one is sure what causes bloat. Ideas include gulping air while eating too fast and exercise straight after food.
Owners often worry they won’t recognise the signs. On YouTube, there is an excellent video. An akita started acting strangely. The people filmed the dog to show the vet. He later added a voiceover. It is well worth watching - and the dog did survive.
There is also a website which gives an acupressure point to alleviate bloat. I don’t know if it works, but if someone has a free hand while you’re rushing to the vet, you won’t lose anything by trying it.
And friends in America, where self-medicating dogs is more common suggest giving Windeze tablets or Infacol liquid - anything with Simethicone in it.
Again, I’m not suggesting it as a cure, but it may just buy you a few vital minutes.