I have been trying to find out a little bit about bloat. Unfortunately a co-worker lost her Great Dane to this awful condition. I had never heard of it. Anyway, I have read on a few sites that adding some water to dry food helps reduce risk and I’ve read on others that adding water increases risk. Any advise or words of wisdom as I have large dogs.
Hound Dog MomParticipant
Hi crazy4cats –
The subject of bloat and what factors increase or decrease the risk is very controversial. These are my tips on avoiding bloat based on what my breeders have told me and my personal experience owning large dogs:
1) While a dog can bloat on any type of food, a dog fed a moist diet (raw, canned, etc.) is much less likely to bloat. When feeding kibble you should soak the kibble in water until it expands – this will decrease the risk of bloat and also add moisture to the diet.
2) Don’t allow your dogs to exercise for an hour after eating.
3) Don’t allow your dogs to inhale their food – for some dogs this may mean investing in a portion pacer or a slow feed bowl.
4) Don’t let your dogs drink large volumes of water immediately following a meal.
5) Make sure the dog is getting probiotics and enzymes (unless you’re feeding raw these will likely have to be supplemented). Dr. Maniet, a holistic veterinarian, states “Probiotics and enzymes can help reduce gas, do I’d expect that they also will help reduce bloat.” (Whole Dog Journal)
I’ve had breeders tell me that large dogs should be fed on raised feeders to decrease their risk of bloating and I’ve read the opposite – that raised feeders increase the risk of bloating. I feed my dogs on raised feeders and haven’t had a problem. The raised feeder factor is one of the most controversial.
Some believe that if a food contains citric acid or a dry food with a fat source in the first four ingredients it will be more likely to cause bloat – I wouldn’t hold too much stock in this theory (jmo).
Stress plays a role as well, stressed/nervous dogs are more likely to bloat.
Hi Hound Dog Mom-
I am going to start putting some water on their dry kibble then. I often add some canned or left overs, but will still add water. Thanks once more for your advise.
My family had one wonderful GSD, larger and deeper chested than average (or breed standard) despite being from an excellent show lines breeder who bred to the standard, die of bloat at 10 yrs old. Very calm, mellow, even tempered dog — just very large, deep chested.
It is heart breaking, because bloat and torsion can happen very quickly, with minimal signs distinguishing it and not easily recognized by the average pet owner, with precious little time to get the dog to the emergency vet to save its life, and to very otherwise happy, healthy dogs still in their prime. It is a HUGE health risk in GSDs, as with other large deep chested breeds. It is discussed endlessly among GSD people.
I agree with all that HoundDogMom advised and shared. Funny, it’s the same stuff I’m familiar with right down to the controversy over the raised bowls!
I’d add that my family & I, those in the GSD fancy and really “into” the breed here, no longer allow our dogs to eat full meals or drink large quantities of water within 2 hours of any type excitement, play, stress, or exercise. Our dogs swim constantly; so that has been one of the biggies for the 2 hour rule. Other serious excitement and hard running we don’t allow within 2 hrs, while in practice we might let it slide to closer to an hour for lesser activity/excitement.
For dogs that gulp food or water and/or get really excited around food, I also recommend bowls that have raised portions in them (like HoundDogMom said) that slow the dog down eating.
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