Bloat is a condition where a dog's stomach fills up with food, fluid, air or a combination of these things. It requires emergency treatment and is life threatening.
There are two types of bloat. The first type is called gastric dilatation. It occurs when the stomach becomes distended due to fluid and gas. The second type is called volvulus, which occurs when the dog's distended stomach rotates, taking the spleen with it since it's attached. Volvulus does not always occur when a dog has bloat. When it does, it can lead to pain and even the death. There is a 50 percent mortality rate for dogs who have volvulus.
Signs that a dog has bloat include weakness, retching with nothing being produced, a distended abdomen, attempts to vomit or belch, drooling, feeling cold, pale gums, shortness of breath, rapid heart rate and collapse.
Treatment for the condition usually involves the insertion of a tube down the throat to relieve the pressure from fluid and gas and surgery if the stomach has rotated.
There is no known cause for bloat. Eating a single large meal each day, eating quickly, having only dry food and overeating are all thought to be risk factors. Other risk factors include drinking too much, exercising heavily after eating, stress, trauma and a fearful temperament.