Distended Abdomen in a Dog: Gretel’s Brush With Scary Bloat
Should you rush your dog to the vet at the slightest sign of not feeling well? What if their stomach is swollen and hard?
There are times when things are best left to resolve on their own, and there are times when not treating is the better strategy. Particularly when treatment equals drugs, such as antibiotics, steroids, and the like.
The body does have the tools to heal itself in many cases. So when do you ought to do something, and when do you wait it out?
Erring on the side of caution
I admit that I take our guys to the vet even with things I feel they should be able to overcome. I want to make sure I am not missing something. And our vet was always happy to examine and evaluate, and when he felt that we best not treat, he’d say that.
Finding out for sure has always been my policy.
Especially when a problem crops up just before the weekend. The last thing I want is a situation blowing up on me during the weekend.
Assessing the problem
How can you tell the seriousness of the issue at hand? How well do you know your dog? What is the big picture?
No matter how much experience you think you have, things can take an unexpected turn.
Picture your dog playing with a squeaky toy. The long-lost toy gets its time in the spotlight. Sooner or later, it becomes too much, and you go to take the toy away to get some quiet.
You notice that your dog’s belly looks distended and feels like a drum when you touch it. Panic comes over you. A distended abdomen is a potential sign of bloat!
But your dog is a Dachshund! They are not prone to this stuff, are they?
Any breed can get bloat with or without volvulus. However, some breeds are most likely to suffer from GDV. The most susceptible breeds include:
- Great Danes
- St. Bernards
- Irish Setters
- Gordon Setters
Source: American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Nope, Dachshunds are not on that list. But it could happen.
Calling your vet
You call your vet. The vet asks you if your dog’s stomach is still gurgling away. (When the stomach rotates on itself, it wouldn’t).
Other telltale signs are also absent. Your dog is not trying to throw up and doesn’t look to be in significant distress.
The vet asks you to measure and monitor the circumference of the abdomen. You do that. The belly doesn’t get any bigger, and by the following day, it returns to its normal size. What a relief!
The symptoms return
Things go back to normal until a few months later.
As if out of the blue, you find your dog’s stomach distended yet again. Nothing unusual happened prior.
Because this is the second time, you go through the same steps as before. Again, you measure the belly and monitor. And yet again, things return to normal on their own.
And yet again
All remains well until it happens again.
Having it happen once fine. Twice? Okay. But three times?
This is neither normal nor an odd fluke anymore. Something isn’t right. This time you decide to take your dog to the emergency clinic after all. Somebody needs to get to the bottom of why it keeps happening.
After a long exam and x-rays, you’re informed that your dog indeed has bloat!
Not the terrifying one with the stomach twist (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus), but bloat nonetheless. From a bloated stomach to a twisted one isn’t far to go.
How the heck did your dog get bloat?
The vets induce vomiting to see what they can find in the stomach. Some foodstuffs that match what your dog had for dinner. Some lettuce and grass, yes, you dropped some, and your dog does like to graze on fresh grass.
Rubbery white chunks … where did those come from?
What are those?
The vet insists they look like chunks of rawhide. But you never give your dog any! Ever! The vet is also certain your dog has gotten into something you didn’t know about.
They keep your dog at the hospital for the night. You have to return home alone, with lots to think about.
But the next day, your dog is released to go home and doing well.
Still no explanation
However, the cause of her bloating remains unknown. After all that, no answers.
When you ask the ET veterinarian, you’re told the cause is unknown. Instead, you receive run-of-the-mill instructions about feeding and water regime.
At the regular vet
Your family veterinarian goes over everything with you in detail. They ask about everything. And finally, the likely cause surfaces.
As it turns out, the guys cutting your lawn didn’t close the gate properly. As a result, Gretel could get out and help herself to some yummy moldy bread from a garbage can. But, of course, you wouldn’t have thought of it because you assumed Gretel was safe inside the yard.
You saw that something was in the garbage but didn’t suspect Gretel.
Gretel was actually lucky
Moldy bread could have made Gretel way sicker than she was. Well, not the bread but the toxins that the fungus produces–mycotoxins. That is just as much not funny as bloat.
Symptoms of poisoning by moldy foods range from moderate to severe and include:
Source: Pet Poison Helpline
Gretel was double lucky.
What about the two times prior?
You might never know what happened before this last time. But at least you have a solid suspect for the last event. This also means your dog is not susceptible to GDV; she likes to fend for herself.
Now that you know that, you might be able to prevent it.
Bad things can happen to good dogs. And sometimes you cannot have eyes everywhere and prevent everything. But, as it seems, all you have to do to prevent Gretel from getting another food bloat–or poisoning–is to make sure there is a gate between her and the garbage.
Which may be easier said than done. But you know what to look out for.
Abdominal Distention in Dogs: Why Is My Dog’s Stomach Swollen?
Food bloat in dogs