Gastric Dilatation - Volvulus
(GDV), commonly referred to as bloat or gastric torsion, is a life threatening, medical emergency
that deep chested breeds, including standard poodles, are predisposed to.
Gastric Dilatation is when the abdomen swells with gas and can occur with or without volvulus. Volvulus is when the abdomen twists, cutting off blood supply to the organs. Gastric Dilation (bloat) can occur with or without Volvulus (torsion).
Signs of GDV/Bloat:
A bloated appearance through the midsection (the ribs look like they are expanding outward)
Rapid heart rate (if it can be felt through the chest wall)
Pale gum color
Remember, dogs are very stoic. He/she may be acting relatively normal but something could be off. When my standard poodle had torsion he was wagging his tail, eager to please as usual. BUT, he was in obvious pain, rolling on his back and biting at his stomach.
GDV is a time critical emergency. If you suspect GDV/bloat please go to the nearest vet/emergency clinic as soon as possible. Keep your emergency vet's phone number in your cell phone and let them know you are coming to speed up the process. Every minute counts
with GDV. The longer the stomach is twisted the greater the tissue death that occurs. If too much tissue death occurs, the dog will not survive - even with surgery.
Nobody knows what exactly causes GDV. Some studies say raised food dishes prevent bloat or torsion, others say they cause bloat. Some studies claim food with citric acid should not fed at all. Others claim it can be fed but should not be soaked before feeding. Still, some claim it is perfectly safe to feed. It is thought that vigorous exercise right before or after eating/drinking can contribute to bloat, as can eating too rapidly. This is why it is generally recommended that you do not exercise your dog vigorously 2 hours before or after eating. Grain free kibble, canned food, homecooked food or a raw diet are often recommended and may
reduce the chance of bloat. However; raw fed dogs DO bloat/twist as do dogs on grain free kibble, homecooked diet, etc. In fact, some dogs experience volvulus (twisting) on an empty stomach. Clearly, diet is not the only factor that contributes to bloat/torsion.
Finally, Bloat has not been proven to be genetic, though it can be familial - occurring within certain lines. I think this is largely due to inherited conformation, though other factors could be involved.
The only known way to prevent gastric torsion from occurring is by performing a prophylactic (preventive) gastropexy procedure (sutures are used to tack the stomach wall to the inside lining of the abdominal cavity). This does not prevent the bloating (stomach distending with gas), but does prevent the life threatening twisting part of this miserable disease process.
Besides prophylactic gastropexy, the BEST thing you can do is KNOW the symptoms. They don't always appear bloated. Restlessness, obvious discomfort, wanting to roll (kind of like a horse with colic), pacing, excess saliva, biting at side/stomach. If your dog shows these symptoms, there is no time to wait. Rush to the vet, emergency vet if necessary, and say you suspect bloat. Every minute counts!
Many people keep Gas-X (Simethicone) in their medicine cabinet in case their dog ever appears bloated. A small amount (perhaps 1 tiny softgel or 1 dissolvable strip) can be given to your dog to help buy time until you get to the vet. This should NOT
be a substitute for taking your dog to the vet as soon as possible. Remember, time is everything with bloat.
Some informative links about GDV:
Understanding Bloat and Torsion ( Gastric Dialation Volvulus - GDV )
Gastric Torsion: A Horribly Unhealthy Kind of Twist Speaking for Spot’s Weblog
Great Dane Links: BLOAT
Bloat in Dogs
Acupuncture/Acupressure for Bloat:
Accupressure Point for Bloat
Three Mile Run Dog Acupressure Point: Acupressure for Arthritic Dogs | eHow.com
Dog Acupressure (not Acupuncture) Resources - Lucky Dog Health