Bloat Reference Guide

Thanks to Linda Nothelfer - Adorah Afghan Hounds US for kindly providing us with this guide. Please feel free to print this off for reference.


Whilst the serious condition of BLOAT fortunately does not effect the AFGHAN HOUND, despite its anatomical make up, to such a degree as some of the other deep-chested breeds. This very serious condition has been recorded within our breed, indeed articles have been written, specifically in the Western Club magazine. A few years back, Carol Hill Diana Greenfield wrote of their experiences, indeed following the death of her young bitch with Bloat, Diana did a mini-survey with quite an interesting response .I am aware of both Afghan Hounds Borzois who have succumbed to the condition and others who have survived with surgery. Some very relevant points were made at this seminar whilst we still do not know WHY it happens, with advances in surgical treatment and management in more recent years, the survival rate is now around 80 per cent. The emphasis is still on how QUICKLY the condition is picked up. WHY it happens may elude us but it is known that there does appear to be some pointers toward a FAMILIAL pattern.

The contributory factor of STRESS is still considered a high risk in such predisposed animals. Another thing of interest, the WEATHER! bio-metrological events. (heat humidity thunderstorms!)

Single Food Source is associated with increased risk. We were advised on food variation, the spacing of meals and to feed larger particles. Dogs should be made to use their JAWs! less soft slop food!

Whilst the condition was said to be rare in the YOUNG dog, it is now being treated in an increasing number of younger dogs in all breeds. Possibly there is a greater awareness, hence dogs being brought in quicker and hence the increase in the survival rates.

A question from the audience, regarding feeding from a raised surface. No evidence either way to suggest this may aid prevention but most of the audience with large breed dogs agreed that this was the way the majority fed their dogs from a breed conformation and comfort reasons.

The following is an extract from the print out that was given on this presentation by ED HALL who is Senior Lecturer in Small Animal Internal Medicine at Bristol Vet School. A particularly good speaker, Dr Hall has a particular interest in gastroenterology. Following a spell at the University of Pennsylvania and then at Liverpool, where he did some research into gluten-sensitivity in Irish Setters, his current research interests include gastro-intestinal disease in the German Shepherd Dog and Inflammatory Bowel Disease.


GDV is one of the true emergencies of small animal practice requiring prompt and vigorous treatment if it is not to be fatal. Advances in management have improved survival rates from below 60 percent to 80 percent upwards within the last decade. However numerous myths about GDV exist whilst the reason(s) why it happens and the methods to prevent it continue to elude us despite many hypotheses.

We know that some (not all) deep chested breeds are susceptible. There may be familial background. It is unclear whether predisposition to GDV itself is inherited or whether it is merely a reflection of the dog's conformation and lifestyle.I t is usually an acquired disease of older dogs. GDV in the younger dog is possibly related to congenital defects in the ligamentous attachments of the stomach. The acute form begins with bloating, either from swallowed air or fermentation of stomach contents.

Chronic torsions may occur without bloating, following relaxation of gastric ligaments.

Whilst megasophagus is a disease commonly recognised in the same breeds as GDV, (specifically in the German Shepherd Dog) there is NO clear association of GDV secondary to primary megaoesophagus. Nevertheless dogs with GDV often develop secondary oesophageal problems.

The bloated stomach has a natural tendency to twist, leading to cardiovascular compromise, shock, and death.

Historical factors such as exercise, temperament, speed of eating, gender, and neutering are now considered to be unimportant.

Whilst body weight, chest conformation, once daily feeding, kennelling, climatic factors, fearful disposition, and car journeys are known precipitating factors.

A dry diet has been incriminated but may be an innocent factor as a number of the affected breeds are frequently fed such diets for economic/convenience reasons. Indeed a diet containing large particle size may be protective.

It is agreed that aggressive fluid therapy, and gastric decompression are CRUCIAL steps in emergency treatment, but what constitutes the best surgical approach is confused by ancedotal reports of splenic and pyloric surgery affecting the long term outcome. Further more,there are numerous methods of fixing the stomach anatomically (known as Gastroplexy). Which method is best is debated by surgeons, but it is clear that gastroplexy is important in REDUCING, although not abolishing, recurrence...

Other gastric problems mentioned included GASTRIC ULCERs. Whilst rare in the dog, with the exception following the use of non-steroidal (asprin like) anti-inflammatory medicines frequently prescribed for arthritic conditions in dogs. Whilst some NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) are safer than others, they ALL have the potential to cause internal bleeding with serious consequences. Any Long term use of the non-steroidal drugs must be accompanied with gastroprotectant drugs and this also applies to steroid medication frequently prescribed for the treatment of auto-immune conditions.

The rarity of spontaneous gastric ulcers in dogs is perhaps surprising given that the canine frequently harbours a similar gastric infection with spiral bacteria (helicobacter) to man, in whom these organisms have been incriminated as causing gastritis, ulcers and even gastric tumours.

Malignant gastric tumours are rare in the dog, which is fortunate as they are almost invariably fatal.


Many thanks to Sylvia Evans for this article.

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