Bloat in Greyhounds

Bloat (Dilation Volvulus)

Breeds at risk of this potentially fatal condition are middle sized, large or giant breeds with deep narrow chests. Clearly greyhounds are at risk so steps must be taken to prevent the risk.

Firstly never give your dog his entire daily ration in one large meal once a day.

Forget any advice you may have been given that this regime imitates the fasting-feasting rhythm of the wolf. Your dog is not a wolf! Your dog’s stomach is not like the wolf’s. It is not designed to process large amounts of food in one go.

Also the stomach is not designed to stay stable if the dog runs and jumps around whilst the stomach is full. When your dog has just eaten a large meal, his loosely anchored stomach has more mass and weight than normal. If he runs around with other dogs or chases after balls, the mass in his stomach bounces around in his abdominal cavity, the stomach can partially or completely rotate, preventing food from entering or leaving the stomach.

The result of all this is the abdomen swells because fermentation gasses can’t escape any more. When the stomach swells it will start push the other organs in the abdomen aside, damaging them in the process. Stomach acids can’t escape so they begin to eat away at the stomach wall, dissolving the stomach itself. Your dog may drool, retch, become restless or listless and show signs of pain. Shock can quickly develop.

Immediate emergency veterinary intervention is crucial or your dog will die!

Phone the vet before you leave so the operating room can be prepared. Bloat has a high fatality rate even if the dog gets immediate veterinary attention. A gastric torsion can damage a dog’s insides so much that a vet may not be able to save him even if he gets immediate attention.

Steps can be taken to prevent this life threatening problem:

  • Divide your dogs food into two feeds daily.
  • Don’t feed your dog just after a play session, make him rest at least half an hour before you feed.
  • After you’ve fed him, make him rest an hour or so before he goes out for exercise.
  • Ideally exercise first, rest half an hour then feed. He should then settle down happily for a sleep.
  • Limiting water consumption for an hour before and after each meal also helps.
  • Don’t let your dog drink large quantities of water all in one go, water should be consumed in moderate quantities.

Puppies are even more at risk than adult dogs and a pup should be fed five to six small meals throughout the day. Their small stomachs aren’t able to cope with large quantities of food.

Keep any foods that may be gorged on when you are not around, a common cause of bloat (greyhounds are notorious thieves) safely out of reach!


Author – Sue Shearing