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What causes gas and bloat in dogs?
Bloat in dogs and Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) are serious and potentially deadly conditions. These conditions are considered emergencies and should be brought to a veterinarian if they are suspected. Knowing the warning signs of these conditions can help save your dog’s life.
Gas is often formed as the byproduct of bacterial fermentation in the bowels. Gas can also sometimes form if your dog gulps a lot of air when eating or drinking, leading to the ingestion of this air. While most air bubbles are naturally popped and dealt with in the gut, some may lead to an increase in gas. In normal and healthy dogs, this gas is expelled by either burping or farting, decreasing the pressure in the intestines and allowing for normal function.
In the case of bloat or GDV there is a problem with the ability to expel excess gas from the bowels. This can be caused by a functional issue, a fast build-up of too much gas, or obstruction stopping the gas from escaping as normal. With GDV, the stomach may also flip and twist over itself, cutting off exits to the esophagus and bowels and creating a balloon for gas to continue forming in. This flipping of the stomach also cuts off its blood supply, leading to death of intestinal tissues.
Signs of bloat and GDV include a cessation in burping and farting, abdominal pain, nausea and loss of appetite, vomiting and diarrhea that then suddenly stops, attempting to vomit or defecate without results, large bloated abdomen and loss of consciousness. This condition is very serious and if these symptoms are seen emergency care should be sought.
Can I prevent gas in my dog?
Minor everyday gas may be reduced or prevented through diet modification and gas remedies. Some dogs may be more prone to gas if they have trouble digesting an ingredient in their food or treats, leading to the ingredient to become fermented and broken down by gut bacteria. This then produces gas as a byproduct. Removing the offending ingredient may help resolve gas issues. Supplements such as probiotics can also help reduce gas.
With bloat and GDV, prevention can sometimes help reduce the chances of this occurring. These conditions tend to be more common in larger breed dogs, and some vets may recommend tacking the stomach to the body wall during routine spay or neuter surgery to prevent its ability to flip over and obstruct the bowels. Feeding several smaller meals throughout the day instead of one large meal can also help prevent bloat by having less food to ferment or form gas at one time, allowing the smaller amounts to escape rather than build up.
What should I do if I suspect my dog has gas or bloat?
For minor gas symptoms, it is best to bring them up with your vet at your latest appointment. Your vet can suggest treatments such as changes in diet, gas medications or natural supplements to help decrease gas symptoms.
In the event of bloat or GDV, emergency medical care for your dog should be sought immediately. Bloat can quickly become a deadly situation in minutes to hours if left untreated. Emergency treatment depends on if the stomach is obstructed or not. If the stomach is in its normal position and not flipped, a gastric tube can be placed allowing gas to escape and decrease pressure in the intestines. In the case of a flipped stomach, emergency surgery to rotate the stomach back into normal position and remove any dead intestinal tissue is needed. Even with surgery recovery or the surgery itself can be dangerous due to the stress and pain caused by the condition.
Natural remedies for treating minor gas and bloating
Peppermint, Ginger, and plain Yogurt are the go-to remedies for treating minor gas symptoms in dogs. These herbs can help soothe the stomach and break up gas bubbles, while yogurts provide a natural source of probiotics. These healthy bacteria can help reduce the buildup of fermented products in the guts and can also help push out “bad” bacteria that can cause gas. A diet free of common allergens such as wheat, corn and soy products can also help improve minor gas symptoms. If gas continues, or is suspected as bloat, speaking with a veterinarian is recommended.