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Pug Dog Bloat

Overview - This is medically known as Gastric Dilatation Syndrome (GDS), is called gastric torsion for short and goes by the simple terms of either bloat or killer bloat. It is important to note that if you think that your Pug has bloat, and we will list the symptoms here, that you immediately bring him to the veterinarian. Time is of the essence and with bloat, if treatment is not given right away, it is often fatal. 

What This is: Bloat is a serious and sometimes fatal swelling of the stomach. If the stomach also twists, this is called gastric volvulus. The expansion and twisting cuts off vital blood supply to the spleen and splenic vessels, which results in the dog going into shock. The event is extremely painful. 
Signs of Bloat with a Pug Dog - A puppy or dog may show one, some or all of these signs. The timeline can be very fast (under a minute) or more gradual (20+ minutes). While signs may appear right after eating or exercise, technically it may develop at any time. Symptoms include:
  • Panicked behavior - There may be pacing, walking around confused, circling, general anxiety manifesting both physically and/or vocally. 
  • Vomiting, heaving, hacking - There may be repeated attempts to throw up that may or may not expel food or fluids. The dog may dry heave, make hacking noises or be leaned over as if he wants to vomit. This may be misinterpreted as coughing. 
  • A hunched posture - Due to the intense pain that a dog experiences and the internal swelling that is rapidly occurring, a Pug may hunch over, with his back curved.
  • Swollen abdomen - The stomach may appear bloated (hence the name) and/or very hard. Though this condition is named after this symptom, a dog can have bloat without there being any noticeable changes to his stomach area. 
Less Common but possible - There may be repeated but unsuccessful attempts to push out a bowel movement, excessive drooling, pale gums, heavy panting, rapid heartbeat, attempts to hide, 

As it progresses - Again, a dog can enter the fatal phase within just minutes. Signs include trouble breathing,slowed heartbeat, weakness, and eventual collapse.  
What Causes Bloat -
  • Type of breed. Most often this occurs with dogs that deep yet narrow chests. Therefore, the Pug dog is not among those most prone to this. However, any dog of any breed (including mixes) can develop bloat. 
  • Eating too quickly - Food will be eating very rapidly causing the dog to quickly swallow both food and air.
  • Drinking too quickly - Though may people associate bloat with food, this can happen due to fast water ingestion as well. 
  • Height of bowl- There is some correlation between dogs that eat from raised bowls and higher incidence of bloat. 
  • Heavy exercise that occurs close to eating; most often right after eating.
  • Other possible correlations: Happens to male slightly more often than females, being underweight, high stress, having a close relative (the Pug's sire, dam or siblings) that has had bloat, eating dry kibble that contains citric acid (risk increases if that food is moistened), foods heavy in fat. 
Conscientious owners should be aware of what can develop with this breed in order to spot problems early. This gives the Pug better chance at successful treatment and recovery.
What to do if you think your Pug has bloat - There is a huge difference between a Pug being gassy and having killer bloat. You may read that offering OTC medication to relieve gas can be a first step, however in the case of actual GDS, this will not help and will only waste precious time. You will want to bring your Pug to the veterinarian immediately. If it is after hours or the office is otherwise closed, do not wait until the next day. Locate the closet emergency animal hospital. 
Mortality Rate - A dog's chances of surviving decrease each minute that he is not receiving emergency treatment. In all, mortality rate for dogs with bloat are estimated to be between 18 to 33%

How Bloat is Treated - First, attempts will be made to stabilize the dog and then, in most cases, surgery is needed:

1. The dog will be given an IV to help stabilize blood pressure and to administer medications to help combat shock and pain.

2. To relieve pressure and help prevent rupturing, an esophageal tube will be inserted through the mouth or a trocar (a long, thin needle) will be inserted into the stomach. 

3. X-rays will be taken to confirm that there is volvulus (the twisting of the stomach). 

4. Surgery is performed. During the operation, the goal will be to reposition the dog’s stomach back into its normal position, remove necrotic tissue (surrounding tissue that is dead or dying due to blood supply having been cut off) and to perform what is known as a gastropexy. With gastropexy, the stomach will be connected to the abdominal wall cavity, which works to greatly prevent this from reoccurring. For dogs that survive and have this surgery, the chance of bloat occurring again is a small 4.%. For those that do not have this done, that number flies up to a scary 55 percent. 

5. Bed rest and very light meals will be required for 7 to 10 days afterward. 
How to Prevent Bloat

In general, those with Pugs do not need to be overly worried since this breed is not at high risk; however, it is wise to make some changes that will not only help prevent bloat but can also ease flatulence and other issues that are related to ingestion of food:
  • Use a floor-level food bowl.
  • If your Pug tends to eat very quickly, use a slow-feeder bowl (this has projections that distribute the food, forcing a dog to slow down) or place a stainless steel portion pacer in the bowl. 
  • If your Pug tends to gulp down water very quickly, offer water more often throughout the day so that he never becomes overly thirsty. 
  • While typical walks both before and after eating is just fine, do not encourage your Pug do perform any heavy exercise that involves running for up to 1 hour after eating.
  • Since bloat tends to happen more often with dogs that are under stress, do all that you can to keep your home environment peaceful and calm. This will be beneficial to all Pugs at any rate. 
  • Feed your Pug a high quality food. Cheap foods often contain too many carbs which can then lead to gas and in some cases, worsen to bloat. 
  • Do not feed your Pug table scraps or any foods that may be high in fat. In regard to manufactured foods, you'll want to steer clear of any that have fat among the top 4 ingredients.
  • If your Pug puppy or dog has a close relative (parents or sibling) that has had bloat, this increases his chances; so be especially vigilant. 
You May Also Be Interested in Other Pug Dog Health Issues:

Hip dysplasia - This is an abnormal growth or slippage of the hip socket and joint. 
Constipation - If a Pug has trouble pushing out a bowel movement or has very hard stools, this can often be remedied from home by making a few changes. 
Diarrhea - Just a short bout of this can cause a dog to become dehydrated. There are some steps you can do from home and if this does not clear up in a couple of days, it will be time to see the vet. 
Bad Breath - This can vary from something as simple as the food that a Pug ate or can be due to more serious issues including tooth decay or stomach problems. 
Breathing problems - Being a Brachycephalic breed, the Pug is prone to breathing issues. This can be due to elongated palate, stenotic nares, issues with the larynx or trachea or a combination of any of these conditions. 
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