Many dog owners and some non-dog owners know what bloat is.  The movie “Marley and Me†brought the issue to the surface for a while, though now many who saw the film still don’t know how that dog died.  I never saw the movie, but I do know about bloat and I feel it nearly unforgivable to happen to a vet’s dog.  Here is what happened: my dog Emma is a lab/springer mix.  She usually gets a burst of energy in the evening after I get home from work.  On this particular day, she had just finished eating her dinner, then goaded me into throwing her Frisbee for her.  We went into the back yard and I tossed the Frisbee.  The first chase and catch was mild, the second throw produced a nice chase and she nearly caught that one, the third throw included a high catch with a tail flip – it was beautiful.  The fourth throw never happened.  She came back and dropped the Frisbee, was panting as expected, but didn’t want to go again.  She paced a bit, then ran off to go pee.  After that, she returned to the porch, but didn’t want to play.  Shortly after, she vomited her dinner and a large amount of white foam.  She then vomited again and I saw her gums – they looked pale.  I lifted her lip and her gums were white.  Her tongue was pale blue.  No pink in the mouth anywhere.  I freaked.  She then proceeded to do all the usual things, tried to vomit repeatedly, only foam came up.  She couldn’t lay down comfortably – she kept changing positions.  She turned and looked at her sides where it hurt, and she continuously stretched her torso in an attempt to get some relief.  I didn’t end up having to take her to the emergency hospital that night.  I massaged her belly and watched for the next signs – fast heart rate and distention of the abdomen.  That didn’t happen.  After about 20 minutes her pain seemed relieved and we were safe again.  
What happened?  When a dog bloats, the stomach turns over itself.  The other name for this condition is Gastric (stomach) Dilatation (distention) and Volvulus (twisting) – GDV.  It is more common in “deep chested†dogs, think Boxer and Doberman.  After the stomach has twisted, the outflow tract is obstructed and the stomach begins to fill up with gas.  The end result is that the dog goes into shock, the stomach fills up so much gas that sections of it loose blood flow and begin to die.  The dog can easily die if this emergency is not addressed immediately.  Often these dogs need to be taken to emergency surgery to have the stomach emptied and set back into proper position.  Their recovery from surgery is also rough and requires constant supervision.  I dodged a bullet that day, but thought you all should know about this and what to look for.  I saw it happen in my own baby first-hand.  My advice to you, do not wait to go to the emergency hospital if you see these signs.  The sooner the dog receives medical attention, the better the potential outcome.

Dr. Amy Hellard
West Chester Veterinary Care (WCVC)