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Bloat and your Labrador Retriever

Bloat occurs when a considerable amount of gas builds up in the stomach and your dog is unable to release it. When the stomach fills up with gas and twists 180 to 360 degrees on its long axis, the resulting condition is known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). Essentially, both the entrance and exit parts of the stomach have been blocked when GDV occurs. Bloat is a major problem in big dogs such as Labrador Retrievers. A Bloat and GDV combination is a serious problem that should be immediately given medical attention. Next to cancer, this lethal combination is the most common non-infectious cause of death in dogs.

Although the exact cause of Bloat has not been pinpointed, it has been observed that excessive eating and drinking of water and followed by exercise often result in the build-up of gas in the stomach. Bloat in Labrador Retrievers is in itself a serious condition, however, the severity of the condition escalates when the stomach twists in a clockwise direction. Aside from blocking both the entrance (near the esophagus) and exit of the stomach (near the duodenum), the twisting will also restrict blood circulation on the affected parts that can lead to the death of the surrounding tissues due to lack of oxygen. When you suspect that your Lab may be experiencing Bloat, you should bring your dog immediately to your Veterinarian so that it can be given immediate medical attention.

The most common signs that you should watch out for:
• Your Lab seems to be restless and anxious
• It may attempt to vomit and may drool excessively
• A distended abdomen
• Whining and has an anxious look
• Gums are pale
• Increased heart rate
• Breathing difficulties

Aside from the aforementioned cause of excessive food and water intake followed by exercise, there are also several factors which are known to increase the chances of the occurrence of Bloat in Labrador Retrievers. These factors include stress, placing food bowls in an elevated place, eating too fast, drinking too fast, congenital or hereditary in nature.

The mode of treatment of Bloat in dogs involves inserting a tube or trocar into the stomach to provide a passageway for the exit of the trapped gas. If serious complications have already set in, your Veterinarian will decide to operate and correct the twist. Supportive treatment is targeted at correcting dehydrate and any electrolyte imbalance, shock or any other complications arising from the degree and duration of stomach distention.

There are many ways which can decrease the chances of your Labrador Retriever from getting Bloat. A dog with a genetic disposition for Bloat should be observed constantly and monitored to prevent the occurrence of this serious condition. Certain preventive measures that you can easily do at home include:

1. Avoid over-feeding your dog. Divide a full day’s meal ration into 2 or 3 meals.
2. Place food bowls at an appropriate level and never use elevated food bowls.
3. Never allow your Lab to access to unlimited amounts of water after eating.
4. Ask your Veterinarian for a commercially available enzyme product that you can add to your dog’s food.
5. Always keep your Veterinarian’s emergency contact numbers ready.

Your Veterinarian will ultimately be the best source of information regarding the health of your Labrador Retriever.

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