The exact cause of bloat is unknown but it is one of the most acute emergency conditions veterinarians treat. It occurs most often in larger, older dogs. Eating a large meal, and or drinking a large volume of water and then exercising is thought to contribute to the onset of bloat. The stomach swells (dilatation) and rotates (volvulus), this traps air, displaces internal organs, and restricts circulation.This turning of the stomach can send an animal into shock, damage stomach tissue, and cause death.
Common early signs of bloat include restlessness, inability to sit or lie comfortably and obvious stomack distention. There is also non productive retching, it appears that the dog is trying to vomit but all that is heard is a gag with the unusual and characteristic sound of air being sucked into the stomach, worsening the distention.
Instead of one large meal, serving large dogs three small meals per day and never to exercise them two hours before or after a meal is suggested. If a dog appears ill or in pain, if the abdomen swells and feels hard to the touch, or if the dog tries unsuccesfully to vomit take the dog to the emergency clinic immediately.
Largebreed dogs with deep chests are most likely to experience bloat. High risk dogs include Great Danes, St. Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish Setters, standard poodles, basset hounds, Doberman, old English sheepdogs, and German shepherds. Labrodor and golden retrievers are at lower risk, and the lowest risk group is small dogs. Older dogs are twice as likely to experience bloat as younger dogs.