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Beat Bloat with Measured Meal Times

Knowing when to feed your dog can be a little bit of a conundrum. Do you push a bowl of biscuits under their nose first thing in the morning and last thing at night, split their meals equally over the duration of the day, or opt for one huge feed?

When it comes to feeding there are lots of questions, especially for those who are new to pet ownership. For many people, as long as their dog looks fit and healthy and is not going hungry, that’s all that matters. They feel that they must be getting it right. Sadly, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

When it comes to feeding, bloat should be high on every dog owner’s list of considerations. It’s a very serious condition that can prove fatal in dogs. Many vets and animal protection agencies report that bloat is a rare but real problem, commonly associated with meal times.

According to vets, the most common causes are:

• rapid eating
• eating one large meal daily
• consuming a totally dry food diet
• overeating
• overdrinking
• heavy exercise after eating

When bloat occurs, the dog’s stomach fills with air, fluid and/or food. The enlarged stomach puts pressure on other organs, which can cause difficulty breathing and stop blood from circulating.
Large breed dogs and deep-chested dogs are more susceptible to the condition, which can cause death within hours and affect smaller breeds too. It’s well worth following these simple steps to reduce the risk:

• Feed your dog several small meals, rather than one or two larger ones, throughout the day to avoid it eating too much or too fast
• If needed (check with your vet), include wet canned or pouched food in your dog’s diet
• Maintain your dog’s appropriate weight
• Encourage normal water consumption
• Limit rigorous exercise directly before and after meals

On a positive note, most of the symptoms are behavioral, at least in the very beginning, so your dog will start to act differently. The abdomen will blow up like a balloon and is one of the first, most obvious signs that something’s wrong. Sometimes it can not be seen but usually the distended abdomen is visible and feels very hard to the touch, like a ball that has been pumped up with too much air.
There are other signs to watch out for. You may see that your dog looks uncomfortable, paces the floor, and can’t lie down. The biggest, most obvious symptom is that the dog appears to be nauseated. It will unsuccessfully attempt to vomit and will retch and gag, but nothing comes up. It will also attempt to have a bowel movement, assume the position, but again, nothing comes out. Excessive drooling is also a common symptom.
If you suspect your dog may be suffering from any of these symptoms, rush it to a vet or the nearest animal hospital.

4 December 2014

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