bloat in Golden Retrievers

Bloat in Golden Retrievers: What You Need To Know

Does your dog’s tummy look bloated more than usual? While it may appear mild at first, bloat in Golden Retrievers must be addressed right away. Recognizing the first signs of bloat in your dog will save it from life-threatening conditions.

Humans also experience bloat, but it often goes away on its own. However, this condition can be fatal on canines. It can happen to any breed, any age, and any health condition.

In this post, I discussed why bloat is a big threat to dogs and what you can do once your dog experiences it.

What is bloat in Golden Retrievers?

bloat in Golden Retrievers

Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach gets filled with food, gas, or fluid. It then causes the stomach to expand and become distended.

At first, this may not seem to be a major problem. However, the distended stomach will start to put pressure on the adjacent organs.

This will make it hard for your Goldie to breathe. It will also reduce the blood flow into the stomach lining and heart.

Aside from that, the bloated stomach of your Golden Retriever can twist. When this happens, gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) occurs.

The twisted stomach then blocks the exit and entry points for all its contents. This means that your Goldie has no way to vomit or push the contents into the intestines.

While some cases of bloat in Golden Retrievers won’t progress in GDV, it doesn’t mean that your dog isn’t at risk. It’s best to seek immediate veterinary care as early as possible because GDV can become fatal in a matter of hours.

Take note that the mortality rate of bloat in dogs is 50%. This means that your Goldie’s life is at 50-50 chances once it experiences the onset of GDV. This number doesn’t look good, even from a vet’s perspective.


What causes gastric dilatation volvulus in dogs?

It’s not fully known why dogs suffer from gastric dilatation volvulus. Still, veterinarians suggest that rapid eating and drinking can be major contributors. Vigorous exercise and stress are also risk factors.

Aside from that, some breeds are more prone to bloat. Breeds like Great Dane, Weimaraner, Saint Bernard, and Irish Setters are observed to be at risk for bloat.

Still, it doesn’t mean that Golden Retrievers are safe from this condition. Due to their large appetite and hyper-energetic personality, Goldies can also suffer from gastric dilatation if not monitored well.


Signs of bloat/gastric dilatation in dogs

bloat in Golden Retrievers

If you noticed that your dog has a distended stomach, you should watch out for the following symptoms of gastric dilatation.

  • Arching of the lower back
  • Weakness
  • Attempting to vomit without releasing anything
  • Drooling and foaming mouth
  • Swollen belly
  • Restlessness and panting

If your dog exhibits at least two of these symptoms together with a bloated belly, you should bring it to the veterinarian right away.

Waiting for the bloat to clear up on its own may put your Goldie at a higher risk. This condition gets worse by the hour, so there’s no time to waste


Risk factors for gastric dilatation in dogs

While the real cause of bloat in Golden Retrievers isn’t quite known, the following risk factors increase its likelihood:

  • Large meals. Feeding your Goldie one large meal a day is a recipe for bloat. A hungry dog will devour a bowl of food quickly, which makes them consume a lot of air. This will become worse if you give them a large amount of water as well.
  • Malnutrition. Underweight Golden Retrievers are at a higher risk of developing bloat. This happens when they are fed large amounts of food, which their frail system can’t handle in one sitting.
  • Genetics. If one of your Golden Retriever’s parents suffered from frequent bloat, it’s possible that your pet will acquire the predisposition. Still, this isn’t absolute, and a lot more factors affect your dog’s risk of experiencing this problem.
  • Old age. Based on studies, older dogs between the age of 7 to 12 and up are at the highest risk of suffering from gastric dilatation.
  • Moistening kibble. Adding water to your Goldie’s kibble can also put it at risk of bloat. This happens if citric acid is an ingredient.
  • Breed. Deep-chested canines are more likely to suffer from bloat due to the anatomical structure of their bodies.

Treatment for gastric dilatation in Golden Retrievers

The treatment for bloat varies based on the extent of the dog’s condition. Nevertheless, the main goal is to stabilize your dog’s condition to prevent the bloat from escalating.

Usually, there are two ways to resolve bloat in dogs.

First, the vet will try to pass a tube down the Golden Retriever’s throat to ease the pressure on the stomach. It will also help drain the food, gas, or water that causes the distension.

However, this method may not be possible if the dog has a severe case of gastric dilatation. In this scenario, the vet will have to puncture a tiny portion of the dog’s stomach from the outside.

Most vets will use a large hollow needle to do this. Once the pressure has subsided, and the stomach is no longer twisted, the vet can use the tube to drain the contents inside.

In the worst cases, the veterinarian would have to perform emergency surgery. This is to untwist the stomach if it doesn’t unravel on its own upon releasing the pressure.

A surgical operation is done to prevent the future occurrence of GDV. Also, the vet will check if the adjacent organs have been compromised, especially if the dog has been bloated for hours.

Just remember that there’s no immediate treatment or first aid for GDV. The only way to treat your dog is to bring it to the vet.


Prognosis for dogs with gastric dilatation volvulus

Gastric dilatation volvulus isn’t really a death sentence for Golden Retrievers or any dog. If diagnosed and treated immediately, most dogs return to their normal self.

However, the longer your dog fails to receive treatment, the poorer the prognosis will be. Prolonged bloat can damage the adjacent organs to the stomach. It will also block proper blood flow. All of these can lead to irreversible consequences.


How to prevent bloat in Golden Retrievers

While bloat can easily happen to any dog, there are many ways to prevent it. The following are some of the steps you should take:

✔️Divide food into multiple servings

The first thing you should do is splitting a day’s worth of food into multiple servings.

Adult Golden Retrievers need to eat two full meals a day. But if yours is prone to GDV, you can ration it in 3 to 4 servings. This will help prevent your dog from filling its tummy with too much food at a time.

Aside from that, portion control is important for Golden Retrievers to prevent obesity.

✔️Switch to a slow-feeding bowl

A slow-feeding bowl will prevent your dog from gobbling food and water too fast. These bowls often have maze-like designs on the surface that force your dog to slow down its eating habits. It’s very effective for canines that keep on experiencing bloat.

However, you should avoid elevated dog bowls since it’s tied to a higher risk of developing bloat. Unless the vet recommended it to your pup, you should stick to slow-feeding options.

✔️Add probiotics to the dog’s diet

Probiotics may not stop your dog’s stomach from twisting, but they will promote better digestion. In the long run, probiotics will help reduce the likelihood of bloat.

If your dog is currently taking antibiotics for a different health problem, you should give probiotics at least four hours apart.

✔️Stop giving table scraps

Another thing you should stop doing is giving your Golden Retriever table scraps. These food items often have high amounts of salt, fat, and preservatives that wreak havoc on your canine’s stomach. This makes the dog’s digestive system less efficient in processing food.

✔️Calm your dog before feeding

Before feeding your Golden Retriever, make sure that it’s calm and rested. This will prevent rapid eating and drinking, which are the leading causes of bloat.

If your dog just got in after playing outdoors, wait for 10 minutes before feeding. This will give your pet enough time to tone down before a full meal. 

✔️Switch to healthier dog food

A complete and balanced dog food product doesn’t have fillers that will increase your dog’s flatulence. Remember that aside from food and water, excessive gas is also a culprit to bloat.

✔️Reduce stressors

Lastly, try to reduce your dog’s stressors. Stress impacts the gastrointestinal functions of canines, which can increase their risk of developing gastric dilatation volvulus.

Long car rides, kenneling, fright, and loud sounds are known to cause severe stress to dogs. Try to avoid this as much as possible.


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is bloat common in Golden Retrievers?

A: Bloat can happen to any dog, even Golden Retrievers. If your Goldie is fed only once a day or is subjected to intense physical activities, its risk of developing a bloat becomes higher. You should also check your dog’s overall health to see if it’s at risk of suffering from this condition.

Q: Will a dog with a bloated stomach be able to poop?

A: A dog suffering from gastric dilatation volvulus may find it hard or impossible to eliminate. This is because the stomach has twisted, which locked in all its contents. It prevents proper digestion and the normal movement of fecal matter.

Q: How long does a bloat take to kill a dog?

A: In some instances, bloat can kill a dog in just an hour. Other canines can endure it from up to 12 hours, but it gets deadlier by the hour. This is why bringing your dog to the vet immediately is very important once you noticed signs of bloat or gastric dilatation volvulus.

Q: Will a dog with a bloat pass gas?

A: Unfortunately, dogs suffering from bloat can’t pass gas or feces. This is the reason why this condition can be fatal. Trying to press your dog’s tummy won’t help either. It will even make matters worse as the nearby organs suffer from unnecessary pressure.

Q: Can bloat in dogs last for days?

A: Bloat can last for days on a dog before it causes torsion or GDV. If you noticed that your dog didn’t defecate for a day, you should be concerned. It’s important to observe and spot the signs of GDV as it happens. This way, you can seek immediate vet care as needed.


Final words

Bloat in Golden Retrievers is a serious condition. Immediate veterinary intervention is important to save your dog from its life-threatening consequences. Also, you should observe preventive steps to ensure that your Goldie won’t be put in such a compromising situation.

Did your dog experience bloat before? How did you handle it? Share your experience below!

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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