Experiencing Bloat
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1813
    So my Mal "decided" that the perfect end to my crazy week would be a case of bloat. I've dealt with a bloating dog before through work and we were able to identify the problem in under 5 minutes and get the dog to the ER and into surgery just inside of an hour or so. That situation was stressful... but not nearly as stressful as trying to act the same way when it came down to my dog.



    When I looked back at the threads, there were a couple on bloat with a few articles, but I really didn't see a clear-cut list of symptoms and what they look like when a dog is bloating. I'm sure this isn't really a concern for the smaller NK, but Akita owners might want to know what it really looks like.

    London is fine now, but getting him under the knife was the hardest part of the whole affair. I'm going to go over every step to give a clearer picture of my experience in case anyone, god forbid, needs to use anything here. I am -not- a medical expert and this is just drawn from my experiences with bloating dogs. For a more objective, comprehensive list of symptoms, try http://www.globalspan.net/bloat.htm



    At around 4pm, London came to me and introduced himself (just outside the door) with non-productive retching. At this point, I hadn't actually seen him and just assumed he'd vomited. When I went out into the hall, he was nowhere to be seen and there was no vomit. After hide-and-seek, the first thought I had when I finally saw him was "god, he looks pale". About a second later he was retching again- and that's when I saw his stomach.

    1. The most easily recognizable symtom is the bloated stomach. I was alarmed at how many of my coworkers didn't realize (and even my family, in the case of my dog's bloat) where the stomach was in a dog. In both bloat cases I've seen, it's the middle section of the abdomen (right at the end of the ribs) that gets that bloated appearance. Pressure in the bulge (if there is a visible bulge) should be a sign - but if the stomach is "grumbly", it possible it's just gas. If the stomach is silent then it's cause for concern.

    When I finally approached him, I checked his gum color only to find them pale and cold. Looking back, they may NOT have actually been cold - it could have been that I was feeling his nose. I honestly cannot say I remember very well. His gums, however, were the palest I've ever seen them and his tongue almost looked like it was turning blue. After the retching stopped, he was panting and gasping.

    2. Anemia - again, in both cases, the dogs took on a visible pallor. This one is a little harder to describe, but just from seeing the dogs from across the room, they looked pale. Closer inspection will usually produce white/pale gums. Max's gums were actually very very dark and red when we first checked him and turned white in transit. I believe the reason for this is blocked blood flow. When the stomach flips, it blocks off some important blood flow to organs and to the heart(?). Sometimes the spleen can get caught up in the mess and may bleed as well (from what I've been told). Drooling might not be uncommon - bloat is painful and a dog that's in pain can drool excessively.

    Less than five minutes later, I had London in the door at my regular vet. I'm lucky enough to have my vet right up the street from me and they were nice enough to take him in and give him fluids and aspirate his stomach to buy us some time to get to the hospital (which is about half an hour away). He was admitted to OSVS (the nearest 24 hour hospital) 45 minutes later and was put under the knife 15 minutes after that.

    Every step of the way, my experience with London was much more "rushed" than my experience with Max (the Golden that bloated at work). We caught Max's bloat in the very early stages and were able to get him to the closest ER in good time. London had been bloating for considerably longer than Max and the ER was not as close to my house as it was to my work. I was also travelling during Rush Hour with London. There is no doubt in my mind that London would have died in transit if my regular vet hadn't done the procedures they did.

    3. Staying calm enough to act is key. I can't say I was a cool-as-winter thinking and planning machine when I was experiencing it with MY dog, but being clear enough to make absolute decisions may mean the difference between life and death. Time is very important to keep track of. In emergencies, everything seems like it lasts forever. I swear I was in the waiting room at my regular vet for at LEAST 20 minutes, but the clock says otherwise.

    The paperwork was one of the hardest things. After all the stress from the trip had faded and I had him through the doors at the hospital, the paperwork could have killed me. They obviously want you to sign the usual anesthetic papers and they'll have you define what kind of resuscitation you want them to use. Then, at the end of everything, before they'll do anything to your dog, they want you to put a deposit down for the low end of their estimate. London's estimate (113 pound Malamute) was between 2800 and 3800. Max's estimate (a 75 pound Golden Retriever) was between 2200 ad 2900, I believe. I don't know how much Max's bill was in the end, but London's was less than the low end of the quote at only 2350.

    It's still a good deal of money to be dropping at once and I believe most emergency vets have a credit line you can apply for... but they'll want to know how you're paying before they start on the surgery.

    I don't know if this will be a help to anyone, but without my previous experience with Max's bloat, I have no doubt that I would not have known what to do fast enough to get London the attention he needed. I was fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to have that prior experience and I hope I can share with others, should they ever need a picture to go off of. If anything needs to be clarified, let me know! o/
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 || www.kishu-ken.org
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    What I experienced with my deep-chested senior Jindos (~14 yr of age) is that one dog ate breakfast just fine and then an hour later, gave that unproductive retching. It wasn't just a gagging-coughing sound but a full blown sound that should have upchucked his breakfast and any undigested dinner. Since this was the first dog that I've ever owned that bloated, I missed that warning sign. I was out of the house making New Year's dumplings when I got the call that he had collapsed. Once I got home, his abdomen wasn't blown up, but it was very tense. I got him to the ER vet and the x-rays showed that his intestines had twisted upon itself. Because of his age and the fact that even the painkillers were not working, I had him euthanized.

    For the other dog, her warning sign was drinking an unusual amount of water. A lot. When she threw up that water, she started bloating/torsioning. Her abdomen expanded rapidly and I drove her right away to the ER vet. On the way there, she lost bowel control and had lots of gas. The x-rays showed her stomach had twisted upon itself. Because of her age and how I had great difficulty keeping weight on her (she was losing lots of muscle), I also had her euthanized.
    Post edited by ayk at 2011-04-25 11:26:51
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 3008
    So sorry about London glad he's alright.

    I never had a dog that bloated before, but it scares me. Bella my parent's dog is a boxer and I believe those are at risk of bloat.. I really need to research on it more..
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    Nicole, 7year old Bella(Boxer), and 7year old Saya(Shiba inu)
  • dlrobertsdlroberts
    Posts: 6552
    Yikes, that scary! I'm glad to hear he's alright. That could have ended very poorly, but it sounds like you handled it like a pro.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
    dlrobertsdlroberts
    Dave, proudly owned by Joey (Shiba Inu), Tyson (Kai Ken), and PRG's Mason Julien McDieserton III, a.k.a. Diesel (Labrador Retriever).
    "My opinion may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right"
  • I'm so happy to hear that London is alright!
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  • Jeez, that is super scary. I'm glad London is going to be ok, and that you recognized this and handled it well. Thanks, too, for posting about your experience and the signs, because it is important to know about. My neighbor's dog bloated (a newfie) and he was too heavy for us to get into their truck, and he, sadly, died before they could get him to the vet. The fire dept. came out to help get him in the truck, but by then it was too late....

    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • CrispyCrispy
    Posts: 1813
    @ayk I'm so sorry to hear about your experiences :( it's really rough, especially when it happens in an older dog. : /

    @shibamistress I was afraid when I got to the hospital because I couldn't lift him out of the car and he wasn't as responsive as when we had started our journey, but I think the adrenaline helped in the end. Remembering that and hearing your story, it almost makes me afraid to get another large breed. (Almost).


    and thanks guys! London is doing well today. They had discharged him even though they were worried about him not eating (he wouldn't eat at the hospital - but that doesn't surprise me... he doesn't really eat in front of strangers). As soon as he got through the door he wanted his dinner. I've been feeding him about 5 meals consisting of about a 1/2 cup of rice and chicken. Tomorrow I'll start adding dog food back in.

    Around the surgery site is predictably bruised. He's on two different pain meds - one for the pain and one for inflammation - as well as a horse-load of antibiotics. I think his throat might be bruised or he's traumatized from the hospital because I used to be able to pill him very easily and now he fights me and foams when I try. Needless to say, getting all his meds in him is fun.

    I feel a lot better now that the worst is behind us. Very thankfully, I knew what was happening and was able to act. I hate to think about what would have happened had I NOT known. I never want anyone to go through that.
    Akiyama no Roushya || 秋山の狼室 || www.kishu-ken.org
  • debpdebp
    Posts: 1
    Hi! My 13 year old Shiba Inu, Jeni, was just seen yesterday evening at the Emergency Vet for bloat. I was shocked. But her symptoms are exactly what you've been describing here, however, she was not twisted, apparently I caught it in time, barely. She is fragile, so I was terrified that I would lose her. The treatment was very expensive, but I did it to give her a chance to stay with us longer. She isn't ready to leave yet by any sense of the word. However, she presented very quickly, with dry heaving and distended abdomin...very distended. She was barking a bark I'd never heard from these little ones so famous for the Shiba scream. This was an alarm bark to get my attention for help. I took her outside and called my son to come get us...I had a hunch that this is what it was. He got here and we raced through rush hour traffic to get her seen. We did. They did a procedure to empty her stomach, and also inserted a needle into her abdomen to relieve the gas. She stayed at the ER vet (a little over 12 hours) until early this morning and is now resting at home. I will follow up with my regular visiting vet over this 4rth of July weekend, as needed. I am only feeding her a small meat ball every hour or so, with access to water for at least another 24 hours. My guess is that she will be more hungry tomorrow. At the worst of this, her belly measured 27 inches. They got it down to 23. About midnight it swelled up a bit, back to 24, and then they gave fluid and pain meds to get it back down to 23. That's still a little swollen but nothing like she was. She is a spayed female, never bred, does have other health issues, pancreatitis, a slight heart murmur,Grade 4 luxating patella, though none of these things showed on her blood work on exam and she came out of anesthetic very well. I am very worried now that I know she can get this. I think it was due to a change in food I did yesterday...from Lamaderm by NutraLife, to a dyhydrated type of food by Honest Kitchen. I did dehydrate the food, but apparently either not enough, or she ate too much, too fast. That's my own theory, though, the vets could find no cause. Any advice, or information you could give me about Shiba Inu and bloat would be very welcome. This was scary, costly and painful for her. She did NOT need the more invasive procedure to untwist her stomach or intestines and we do have to watch carefully in case this returns. I'm terrified.

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