Information about Bloat

Bloat is always an emergency in need of immediate attention and treatment.

IMMEDIATE veterinary care is essential if you suspect your Briard is bloating.

With or without torsion, bloat occurs most commonly in the large, deep-chested breeds.

Bloat may result from the ingestion of a large quantity of food and/or the consumption of voluminous amounts of water. It may result from strenuous exercise being engaged in after drinking or eating. But it may occur at any time.

Clinical signs include some or all of the following:

  • Whining
  • Pacing
  • Panting
  • Excessive salivation
  • Restless getting up and lying down
  • Attempted vomiting or defecation
  • Unproductive retching
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Abdominal distension
  • Saw-horse stance
  • Prostration.
  • Shock, indicated by loss of color in gums, may or may not be present

Treatment: stomach tube is passed to relieve the gas and siphon off the stomach contents. In many cases, the stomach cannot be tubed because torsion (twisting) of the stomach has occurred. Many veterinarians will perform surgery, not only to relieve the torsion and empty the stomach, but to "tack" the stomach in place to prevent torsion from recurring.

Be warned: Once a Briard has bloated, he may bloat again--and soon--even with conscientious after-care. After veterinary hospital treatment is completed, your Briard will be on limited quantities of bland prescription dog food for a period of time. Small meals will be offered three to four times a day.

Cause: Although research on bloat has produced no definitive answers as to the cause of the condition, certain preventative measures have been suggested.

Prevention: Do not allow your Briard to exercise strenuously before or after eating, nor after he has had a lot of water to drink. Monitor his drinking after heavy exercise. Do not let him "tank up." Allow him controlled quantities of water over an hour or more. Free-feeding may be desirable, if it works for your dog (meaning he eats several small quantities through the day). Free-feeding may not work in many households, especially those with several dogs. In that case, feed two smaller meals a day rather than one large. Some veterinarians recommend adding fresh raw vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrots or dark leafy greens to the dog's regular diet.  Some studies suggest avoiding dry foods with soybean meal as a main ingredient. Discuss with your veterinarian what preventative measures he or she would recommend.

Remember: BLOAT KILLS. If you think your dog is bloating, get veterinary care IMMEDIATELY.

Plan ahead! Be sure you have access to veterinary care after hours or on holidays. Arrange this with your vet or identify a reliable emergency veterinary clinic.