Dogs don’t really have to chew their kibble if they don’t want to.
Although this is a common characteristic of dogs in general, it is very beneficial to slow down the speed of their ingestion. Large dogs, like St.Bernards, Dobermans, Great Danes, labs, etc. are at risk of bloat and even a more dangerous condition and potentially fatal called gastric dilatation/volvulus (GDV) when a torsion of the stomach occurs. So how, as pet owners, can we prevent bloat and GDV and what are the risk factors?
Risk factors for bloat and GDV:
- Narrow and deep chest
- Once-daily feeding
- Rapid eating
- Exercise after eating
- Consuming large quantities of food and/or water
- Fearful temperament
- Being underweight
- Eating from a raised feeding bowl
Strategies to prevent, bloat, vomiting, and gastric dilatation volvulus:
- Feed kibble that measures at least 3 cm forces the dog to bite down on the kibble before swallowing, thus limiting the risk of aerophagia (swallowing of air), a known risk factor for gastric dilatation. There are large kibble foods available at leading pet stores
- Feed your dog using a slow-eating dog bowl or a puzzle toy. See the bowl recommendations below. They range in quality and price. Be sure that if your dog eats plastic to splurge on the stainless steel versions.
- Feed smaller portions more frequently. A deep-chested dog should be fed 3-4 times a day smaller meals to prevent bloat. Never feed just once a day.
- Avoid stressors during feeding time
- Restrict excessive exercise after a meal
- If you dog is a female and is a large or giant breed that is not yet spayed, at the time of spaying, you can have their stomach’s tacked to the inside of their abdomen. This is called a gastropexy. In my opinion the best type of gastropexy is an incisional gastropexy. This will prevent to torsion of the stomach around the vena cava and thus prevents GDV but not bloat. It is also recommended that high risk male dogs get the surgery especially if they have already bloated. If male dogs need emergency surgery to correct a GDV, the procedure should end with a gastropexy.
- Do not breed dogs if they have a history of GDV
- Every pet owner should have an emergency hospital picked out before their pet needs emergency attention. Here is post to help you evaluate emergency and referral veterinary hospitals.
Products that help prevent overly fast eating:
#1 Bowls that prevent fast eating (shown is the metal Break-Fast-Bowl). Here is a link to one with good reviews on Amazon that we recommend:
#2 Puzzle Toys (Shown here are the Kong, the Kibble Nibble, and the Premier Twist and Treat Dog Toy)
Note: Be sure to get the right size for your pet:
Need recipes for stuffing puzzle toys? Consider reading this article.
It is recommended that pet owners with dogs at risk educate themselves about the early clinical signs of bloat and GDV. The following video covers the basics. I apologize for the robotic voiceover!
Even with the proper preventative measures, bloat can still happen. A bloat and GDV are an emergency, so if you see any signs of bloat, don’t wait- take them to the vet ASAP! Lets do all we can to prevent bloat!
Guess what? We are giving away a Break-Fast-Bowl in a few posts. Stay tuned and don’t forget to donate below!
This post is part of the 2010 Blogathon Fund Raising Charity Initiative.
VetLIVE is trying to raise money for National Mill Dog Rescue. National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) has saved over 3828 dogs and counting. At National Mill Dog Rescue, “It’s all about the dogs.” NMDR has pledged to put an end to the cruelty and evil of the commercial breeding industry, more commonly known as puppy mills. Through educating the public and through the use of their 500 volunteers, NMDR is on the cutting edge of saving mill pets and helping improve the industry. NMDR is a 501c3 nonprofit organization.