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FIRST AID IN THE FIELD - Entry #6 (Stomach Torsion / Bloat)

August 19, 2009

Stomach Torsion, also known as Bloat, occurs when the stomach becomes twisted, causing intestinal gases to build up. The condition is very painful and can be fatal if not treated right away. It is similar to having a balloon in your dog's belly that keeps expanding. It is not entirely known what causes this condition, though suspected culprits include certain types of food large amounts of food, and/or heavy exercise. Though it is uncommon for this to occur in the field, there is still a possibility so I felt it best to discuss this in our First Aid In The Field series.

Bloat is treated by inserting a stomach tube through the throat and into the stomach to release the trapped gas. More severe cases require surgery. If your dog looks bloated, acts restless, tries to vomit unsuccessfully, has excessive salivation and has labored breathing, get him to a vet immediately. If you are in a place where a veterinarian is not available, you will need to try to relieve the pressure yourself. This can be done by inserting a large bore needle into your dog's abdomen - the area right behind the ribs while your dog is in a standing position. If possible, you really need to contact a veterinarian before trying this procedure, as it is very risky. THIS PROCEDURE SHOULD ONLY BE DONE AS A LAST RESORT TO SAVE YOUR DOG'S LIFE.

If you feel your dog may be prone to Stomach Torsion, you should take precautionary measures. Feed your dog smaller meals twice-a-day, rather than one large meal. Also, refrain from letting your dog exercise after meals. This condition typically occurs when dogs are overly excited, not eating regularly, or are out of their normal circumstances.

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