Bloat in Dogs

Bloat occurs when the dog’s stomach fills with air, fluid and/or food.  The enlarged stomach puts pressure on the other organs, causing difficulty breathing, eventually decreasing blood supply to the dog’s vital organs.  Also known as Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), gastric torsion and twisted stomach, the condition causes rapid clinical signs and death in several hours.  Even with immediate treatment, about 25 to 40 percent of dogs die as a result of this medical emergency.

The condition is most commonly seen in large, deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Mastiffs, Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers.  It can also be seen in small dogs with deep chests, such as Dachshunds and Basset Hounds.  Dogs that have had a direct relative with bloat can be at increased risk, though there is not a proven genetic link.  The most common risk factors are taking in a lot of air, overeating or eating quickly, drinking lots of water quickly, and activity following a recent meal.  There is a debate on whether lowered or raised food bowls are better.  It has been shown that either can contribute.

Food bloat may occur if the dog has access to large amounts of food, such as getting into a whole bag of food or a garbage can and consuming the contents quickly.  The stretching of the stomach can be very painful, not to mention the risk of pancreatitis or obstruction, depending on what is consumed.

Symptoms include a distended abdomen, unsuccessful attempts to belch or vomit, retching without producing anything, weakness, excessive salivation, shortness of breath, cold body temperature, pale gums, rapid heartbeat or collapse.  Timeliness of treatment is paramount.

Radiographs are taken to assess the size of the stomach and to see if the stomach has rotated or twisted on itself.  This is called a volvulus or torsion depending on how the stomach twists.  If GDV does occur, aggressive treatment is instituted immediately for stabilization of shock, arrhythmia, and electrolyte disturbances.  Emergency surgery is required to deflate and untwist the stomach so that pressure can be relieved, organ viability can be assessed, the stomach positioning can be corrected, and circulation restored.  At that time, the surgeon will also use a stabilization technique to essentially tack the stomach so as to prevent future recurrence, a procedure known as gastropexy.

Even after surgery, there is still intensive monitoring and care needed for the next two weeks.  After suffering from GDV, dogs may have abnormal heart rhythms and mobility issues for several days.

To best lower your dog’s risk of bloat, avoid any strenuous exercise or hyperactivity after eating or drinking.  Also try to slow your dog’s consumption of food and water by regulating the portions you offer.  It is best to not offer large bowls of water, especially to a dog that historically tries to rapidly drink a lot.  There is also greater concern if the dog is panting and taking in a lot of air in while eating or drinking.

If your dog is at high risk for this disease, you can decrease the risk by offering multiple smaller meals throughout the day rather than one large meal.  Food bowls with dividers are available which can slow down food intake.  Another method of slowing food consumption is to substitute mini muffin trays for a food bowl.

Any at-risk dog can have a surgical procedure to “tack” the stomach to the inside of the abdominal wall, called a gastropexy.  A minimally invasive surgery using rigid laparoscopy, called laparoscopic gastropexy, allows trained surgeons to perform the procedure with only a small incision at the belly button and a second incision in front and to the right side of the center line of the abdomen.

Talk to your veterinarian about the prevention of bloat, including the use of preventative laparoscopic surgery.

Article from the New Barker’s Summer 2013 edition

The Yellow Dog Project

I just got wind of this movement and wanted to learn a little bit more about it.  In a nutshell, it is a global initiative to give those dog owners, who do not want other people and/or dogs to approach their dogs, a way of alerting people to that wish.  It’s the simple act of tying a yellow ribbon around their leash…I’m assuming we retractable leash users would tie it around the handle(?).  YellowDogProjectHere’s a snippet from their website.

“The Yellow Dog Project is a global movement for parents of dogs that need space (aka DINOS, Dogs In Need Of Space).  Through social media, physical awareness, as well as educational courses for kids and parents, TYDP hopes that we can remind people to ask before petting, that owners of other dogs recognize the signs of a dog that’s not interested, and many more!”  That is what TYDP is, and this is what TYDP is not.

It sounds like it might be a great way of avoiding potentially dangerous situations with both the dog and their owners.  For more information:

Website:  The Yellow Dog Project

Facebook:  The Yellow Dog Project

Why Do Dogs Lick Faces or Jump on Humans?

Body language and signals play an important role in the lives of dogs, as they use their bodies to communicate their intentions and feelings in the same way that we use sounds and spoken language.  These signals appear to be mostly inherited and instinctive, although they need to learn when to use them most effectively.  Dogs will try to use the same signals during their interactions with humans as they do when “talking” to each other, which can lead to all kinds of confusion.  Humans are guilty of doing this as well.

Let Me Lick You!!!

When a dog meets a human, he wants to be friendly and signals this by his forward movement, his “friendly” expression, and by his attempts to lick the person’s mouth.  Most people recognize this and wants to be friendly too, but, being a human, smiles, puts their hands on the dog and moves their head so he can only lick their chin at the most.  Licking is an appeasement gesture that signals that he is no threat to the person.  He does this hoping that they won’t attack him, as he doesn’t know the person well and is not completely sure of their character.

Most dogs have a special bond with their owners, and licking the mouth has become a ritualized greeting.  This action has its origins in the behavior of puppies in the wild who would lick the mouths of adults returning to the nest to get them regurgitate food they were carrying in their stomachs–something that is not likely to happen to your dog I hope.

Let Me Jump on You!!

Dogs that know you well will signal their greeting with their whole bodies.  They will strain against their leash to get to the person, but their body will be relaxed and not as tense as it would be if they were about to display aggressive behavior.  Their tail wags in a big sweeping movement from side to side, and their facial expression is a happy “grin”.  Dogs jump to get closer to our faces.  As puppies they want to be close enough to lick our mouths.  If this behavior is rewarded when they are young, it becomes a habit later in life.  (Boy do I know that!  My Harley was so cute as a puppy, and now I can’t get him to stop jumping on anyone who walks in the front door.)  They get anxious and excited and will have a wide mouth, pulled-back ears and protruding tongue.  They are seeking assurance from the person that they are accepted.  If a dog has been told not to jump on people in the past, they may still try but will keep their paws low in case they need to get down again quickly.  It is important to assure the dog as soon as possible in order to stop this action and calm them down.

Pet Car Back Seat Cover Review

It certainly was heartbreaking when I traded in my gas guzzling SUV for a car that doubled my gas mileage.  Why heartbreaking?  Now I have to squeeze in numerous dogs into my nice leather seats of my rarely clean 4-door sedan.  Its easy to give up the back of an SUV to the dogs but much harder to live with the entire vehicle being covered in hair, sand and slobber.  

Since I transport many dogs in my car to and from the vet’s office, the airport or the dog park (my record is 7), the back seat of my car took quite a beating instantly.  I knew if I wanted the interior to last I had to find good car covers. I thought this would be so easy when I first went online.  There were many to choose from, but choices got whittled down quickly due to color constraints (charcoal) and the type of vehicle I own (2012 Hyundai Sonata). The bottom of its back seat blends right into the top of the carpeted floor so an elastic strap would not be able to get completely under the seat for a tight grip. 

I found one that was cushioned, had cute paw prints all over, fit the measurements of my back seat, and had so many straps and elastic bands on it, I thought I had found the perfect cover for my back seat.  So I spent the $40.00 (plus S&H) and couldn’t wait to get rolling (ha ha).  

Much to my chagrin, the main elastic straps that hold down the cover on the bottom corners of the seat did not stay in place.  Plus, all the hook straps really had no where to go except to get tied to the bottom of the front seats.  This did nothing but rip them out when a dog jumped in via the floor of the car.  Those dogs that jumped on the seat itself just moved the corner all the way off the leather, and I had mud and nails where they weren’t supposed to be any longer.

Feeling burned by this purchase and unable to return it because of the ripped straps, I searched for something cheaper.  That way, it wouldn’t sting as much if the next one didn’t work out either.  I was worried I would never find any cover that would work.  That’s when I stumbled upon my miracle cover.

The Paws Life Pet Car Seat Cover is made exclusively for Bed, Bath and Beyond.  It retails for only $19.99 and, as any BB&B customer knows, their 20% off coupon brings the price down to only $15.99.  Plus, they had it in charcoal and it was available at my local store, so no S&H charges.  It’s a no-frills cover (not padded or cutesy) but does this thing work!  No matter how many dogs jump into the back seat, the cover barely moves (especially the all-important corners).  It has several things to keep it in place that the more expensive version did not including a stabilizer that gets shoved deep into the seat and a velcro piece that wraps around the bottom of the seat belt on each side.  It says that it fits all cars and SUVs.  My car seat is a little bit bigger than most, so I imagine your odds are good.  


DOGTV Review

DOGTVI recently had the opportunity to have a free week-long trial of DOGTV through DirecTV. As someone who boards dogs in my home, I’ve always left the TV on when I leave them home alone.  I wasn’t sure if it really did any good to break the silence, and my dog is the only one I’ve ever seen who actually “watches” television.  So I spent the week observing all the dogs I had over during that time, and I definitely could see a few of them watching.  What was even more significant was how calm they were when I would come home.  Normally, one of my dogs will start barking once my car pulls into the driveway, prompting all the dogs to go crazy.  Now when I drive home, they don’t even know I’m home until I walk through the garage door.  The frenzy is much more containable since I can pretty much stop it (jumping on me, etc.) before it starts.

The channel cycles in three parts:  Relaxation,  Stimulation and Exposure.  All three have their purpose, but I notice they watch the Stimulation section the most.  I’ve even found one of my cats mesmerized by the channel.  They run “The Story of DOGTV” periodically, and it’s quite enlightening.  You can view the bulk of it (via their experts) on their website,

Whether this channel is for everyone is left to be seen…mostly because it’s not free  It is an additional $4.99 a month, but to me, it’s well worth the price.  Even if I didn’t have this business in my home, I know I would do anything to help my dogs when I’m not home.  After listening to the dog behavior experts behind the channel, I know that I’ve been correct in leaving some type of audio/video on for them.  However, leaving “Animal Planet” on, as I’ve done for years, fails in comparison to this channel.  I hope they succeed enough to be able to offer it on all cable/satellite platforms.