I've been becoming concerned lately about the dangers of bloat, especially when my lab, 4.5-month-old Ruby, really gulps down the water during and after exercising. Plus, in some of the web articles I've read, it is recommended that dogs shouldn't exercise for a few hours both before and after they eat. Unfortunately, I don't have enough hours in the day to accommodate this!
My current thinking, in terms of the water gulping, is to offer smaller amounts of water after our walks, slowly, so she doesn't gulp it all at once. Also, she loves ice cubes, so that's another work-around. As for the feeding, my usual schedule is to feed her, then within 1/2 an hour to go for a walk. The walks always end with a lot of butt-tucking around the yard (very funny!). So, this definitely qualifies as exercise soon after eating! But perhaps this increases the danger of bloat...
So, I was wondering if anyone has had experience with or has any advice for this. Is it better to feed her after our walks, maybe say 15 minutes or so after her butt-tucking ends? Or is our current schedule ok, since it's usually at least an hour until her "frantic" mode? Any other advice?
I feed mine a small amount in the morning and they rest all day after that. I feed them the rest when I get home from work and I wait at least two hours before any running or heavy exercise. A short slow walk is ok. I give them as much water as they want. I have one who has had bloat like episodes so I am very careful.
Can you guys tell me how to tell if my dog is bloating? The reason I ask is because she has a few times now sucked down vast quantities of water after exercising in hot weather and then barfed it back up. I took her to the vet and she checked out ok. I have gotten very careful about limiting time outside when it's over 80 degrees and when she's drinking I make sure that she gets a drink then I take the water away for a few minutes then let her drink again if she wants to, kind of like we do with the horses when we've worked them for a while and they're hot. She hasn't had a problem since then, but I have no idea what bloat looks like in dogs. She's still adjusting to the heat and humidity of MO compared to the climate in Colorado.
I've heard also that exercise should be avoided for X hours before and X hours after exercise but I strongly suspect that feeding and then actively exercising would be the more likely to cause bloat.
So my suggestion is to feed after exercise.
I just looked in my Giffin & Carlson's "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook"* They say, "....The dog may have just eaten a large meal, exercised vigorously before or after eating, or drank a large amount of water immediately after eating."
Obviously, if a dog vigorously exercises -- which most Labs need to do to keep themselves and their owner's sane* --- any meal eaten occurs both before and after exercise.* So I think what they mean is not before or after but somewhere closer to JUST before or RIGHT after.
I suspect that if you can move out the time for the exercise by, say, a half hour and then give a half hour time between the last of the Butt Tucking and the first of the kibble, that would be safe for most dogs.* As for the gulping water,* do you take any along with you on your exercising?* Maybe a couple stops for a quick drink would help?*
On my morning 70 minute walks with Puff, in one of the many pockets of my Cabela's Safari vest, I carry a collapsible water dish ("Hydro-Bowl") and I was carrying a one pint collapsible wide mouth water canteen ("Platypus" by Cascade).* But after over a thousand uses, the Platypus developed a leak so now I've substituted a Tropicana bottle that first held one serving of OJ (12 or 16 oz).* It has a wide enough cap to allow me to pour leftover water from a first offering back in the bottle for serving again.
If it's any comfort to you, G&C also say ...."Bloat can occur in any dog at any age, but typically occurs to middle-aged to older dogs. "
So your puppy will be in a safer range for awhile.
As for how to tell if your dog is bloating, since "bloat" refers to either of two separate conditions, I strongly suggest you order a copy of the G&C book mentioned.* It's under $25 (US) from Amazon and has a useful 44 page section on treating emergencies.* It'll save you hours of needless worry and your dog from hours of not seeing a vet when he should have and you the needless expense of seeing a vet when it was not needed.* Every dog should come with one, every dog owner should use it. It'll give you far more reliable advice than many (not all)* faceless, unknown JL members can.
Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]
I had a swiss mountain dog that bloated twice, the second time I had to put him to sleep, not from thebloat, but from some weird complication afterwards....
as for noticing it, you will. The stomach, the area of the body where it usually comes in, when looking down on the dog will become extremely wide. If the stomach flips and the dog throws up, there will be nothing there - maybe a little liquid.
as for what causes it...most vets will flat out tell you, "they have no idea". Could not exercising for an hour before and after help - maybe??? Can taking stress out of your dog help - maybe?? Truth is, they are still trying to figure it out. There are studies they say the moon/gravity type stuff cause it....who knows. I think a lot has to do with stressful situations and foods the dog it not use to at the same time...my opinion
As for exercise before and after though, they do say its after they eat that is the most important. I now stick to 20-30 minutes before and 45-60 min after. Also there is nothing wrong with light play - they mean, "exercise".
Also, some say there is less risk if you feed raw. I did feed raw with my last dog - so I no longer believe that.
As for gulping water, I would not let them gulp too much for at least 30 minutes. I think you can give a little after the meal though and be safe.
I am not a vet, but have been through a lot...these are just my opinions.