Bloat in dogs is a major health risk, especially for older and larger dogs. It often happens after eating a lot rapidly, and exercising, but exact causes are not well known.
The other night, Magic showed the classic signs of bloat. He was extremely distended in the abdomen, was in pain, didn’t eat, tried to vomit, was crouched over. This came on very suddenly after our evening puppy party, when everyone runs around. Ilana had opened the gate to our upper yard, and many dogs gorged themselves on the snowy remains of where I had cut 800 lbs of fish for the Serum Run — not a lot of food, but lots of crumbs in the snow, and some small pieces of meat.
We called the Fairbanks after hours emergency vet (at 8:15 pm), but they were closed for renovation. Then, we called our pals at Mt. McKinley Animal Hospital, and the answering service put us straight through to the on-call vet, who we know. Bloat is serious, and the symptoms matched. The vet told me to insert a largish needle in Magic’s gut to let out some of the pressure, and drive him straight in.
I stabbed him with an 18 gauge needle, but there was no escaping air. Stabbed twice, but he didn’t even flinch. Tossed him in the Jeep, and Ilana drove to the vet. The vet had called in a vet tech, in case emergency surgery was needed. Upon arrival, the vet confirmed it seemed like bloat, but as it wasn’t in advanced stages, they took an x-ray.
The x-ray showed a gut full of food (snow, water, crumbs, straw…who knows?), not a stomach full of air as results from bloat.
Yes, it’s true. Magic had a bad case of indigestion.
We brought him home, skipped his dinner, and gave only soupy water for breakfast the next day. He was back to normal within 24 hours. Knowing that he was engaged in eating all kinds of crap during the puppy party didn’t really help much, in this situation: he had many classic symptoms of bloat. People we know, and people we don’t (google it, above), have stories of dogs dying from bloat during the ride to the vet clinic, so we don’t mind that we took it seriously.
When we see the vet bill, maybe we’ll consider just keeping a plastic tube and anti-gas medication around, for some home treatment first. We’ve never had bloat, and since moving to AK 5.5 years ago have fed our dogs something like 60,000 meals. So bloat doesn’t seem to be a major problem for us.
But you never know.