Wellness

What is dog bloat, and how to prevent it from happening

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Let me just tell you that bloat is my biggest fear as a dog owner.

Bloat might not seem like a big deal to humans, but it can be deadly to large or deep-chested dogs. An emergency vet explained me that a dog's stomach hangs like a hammock, and when a large amount of gas is sitting in the abdomen it can cause the entire stomach to twist. When this happens, the blood and oxygen supply is cut off and dogs can die within minutes. Unfortunately, many people don't take their dogs to the vet until the stomach has already flipped and it's too late. I wrote about some tips and signs to look for since I went through this scare with Boomer a few months ago.

 

Causes

No one really knows the exact causes, but we have somewhat of an idea on what triggers it. We know it mainly happens in large dogs, especially those with deep chests like Great Danes. We also know it can happen if your dog drinks too much water too quickly. It can also happen if you feed your dog foods with ingredients like citric acid and add water. Intense exercise too soon before or after a meal may also cause it. I avoid all of these scenarios to prevent it, just in case. 

 

How to prevent it

Sadly, you can never truly prevent bloat, I learned that from my experience with Boomer. But, you should monitor your dog's water intake as much as possible. Read your dog food ingredient list and make sure there are no citric acids if you normally like to add water to the food. This causes strong acids in the stomach that create gas. Most importantly, never feed your dog 1 or 2 hours before or after exercising them. 

 

Signs

In the very beginning stages, your dog's stomach may make loud gurgling noises, like a human's stomach when you're hungry. I could hear Boomer's stomach from across the room. At this point, give your pup some Gas X pills (3 - 4 pills should work, they can't overdose on these), and take them on a long, but slow, walk to encourage the gas to travel out of the stomach. Do this about every half hour for several hours. We had to do this once for Boomer after he got x-rays and his stomach (luckily) did not flip, every time he burped or farted I was so relieved lol!

*If your dog starts retching, or looking like he's trying to vomit but nothing comes out, IMMEDIATELY take him to the vet - preferably a hospital so they can do surgery, if necessary. Also take them if they look uncomfortable or are pacing. At this point the vet will want to take x-rays to see if the stomach has flipped and if surgery is needed. 

Once the stomach flips, it swells like a balloon because of the trapped gasses. These photos aren't pretty, but I want to make sure you have a visual of what the symptoms look like. I kept thinking Boomer's stomach look bloated, but the vet said it did not and that it would look like he swallowed a watermelon if it was. If you haven't taken your dog to the vet by this point, you must go when their stomach is visibly enlarged like this! 

Bloated belly:

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dogbloatsymptoms

How to make long car rides more comfortable for your dog

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Did you know dogs can get car sick? And they can also feel an incredible amount of stress from being in a car for several hours?

Personally, my dogs don't enjoy being in the car, their behaviors immediately changes. Boomer gets very stressed; he drools excessively and his lower eyelids begin to droop from anxiety. Ruger paces around the back seat and can't sit still. I always feel bad for them since they seem so miserable, but I've learned some simple things to help make the car ride more comfortable.

 

1. Try over the counter medications

Give your pet regular Benadryl for car sickness. Your dog will excessively drool, whine, pant, or yawn if they are feeling motion sickness. If they show any of these signs, you can give them 1 mg/lb. at least 30 minutes before the car ride starts.

 

2. Use a natural method

Use CBD oil to help keep your dog relaxed and to alleviate nausea. I give 2 drops/lb. for each dog about an hour before they get in the car. I use the Bluebird Botanicals Classic formula that is for humans. Make sure the CBD oil you use only contains one "binder", such as hemp oil, and does not have unnecessary fillers that may be toxic to animals. You can also use a pet formula, if you prefer.

 

3. Keep them distracted

Try to give your dog a yummy bone to kill time and create a positive association with being in the car. Give them something they don't get often to make it even more special and enticing. Bully sticks or Himalayan salt chews are a great option that won't make a mess in the car. 

 

4. Don't take them if they don't need to go

Your pets don't necessarily need to ride with you everywhere you go. Unless it's a trip to the vet or a pet-friendly vacation, don't bring them on unnecessary car rides. You might think it's fun for them to always tag along, but if it causes them more harm than good they'll probably be happier at home!

How to dog-proof your home before your new bff comes

And by BFF I mean your new dog, obviously.

You want to make sure you bring them home to a safe environment where they won't get into trouble and create bad habits. Dog-proofing will help set your pet up for success and allow them to safely explore and settle into their new home.

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1. Put any breakables above head level

Move any breakables, such as glass pieces, above your dogs' head level when they are sitting. Anything made of fabric or a soft material they might be tempted to chew should be above head level when they are standing so they can't take from places like countertops.

 

2. Keep all food locked away

Put all human and animal food in locked containers or in closets/cabinets they can't easily get into. If you have medium/large dogs, don't leave anything on the counters either. You can buy all sorts of great containers for dog food that not only keep your pet out, but also keep the food fresh.

Here are a couple options from Amazon (these are not ads!): 

3. Put away prescription and Over The Counter medications

Even if they are meds meant for dogs! Put these not only above head level but also in something that properly closes or locks. We keep all medications in a small plastic drawer on a top shelf inside of a closet, the dogs couldn't reach it even if they tried!

 

4. cleaners should also be kept behind closed doors

Most household cleaning products are toxic and can easily kill a dog within a couple hours of enough consumption. Dogs don't know any better, so keep them safe by not leaving products open or left out for them to get into. For example, all of our cleaning products at home hang from a shoe holder on the door of our laundry room. 

 

5. Keep spaces open

Don't put furniture pieces in tight or narrow areas where a playful or excited dog could accidentally knock it over or get hurt. In general, try to keep your home free of clutter so your dog is less tempted to chew whatever they find on the floor. 

 

6. Check your plants

Whether you have an indoor or outdoor garden, keep everything out of reach! Keep indoor plants above head level and build a barrier or fence for your outdoor garden. Research if you have any toxic species that your pet might eat. Some common plants that are toxic to dogs include; several species of Peonies, Daisies, Aloe, and Palm Trees. Here is a complete list of toxic and nontoxic plants - click here.

Do these things to make sure your dog is drinking enough water

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Water is just as important to dogs as it is to us. It's hard to pay attention each time your dog takes a drink, so you may never know what their daily intake truly is. 

 

These are some quick and easy ways to make sure they're getting plenty of water throughout the day and staying hydrated!

 

1. Always keep water bowls full. This will encourage them to drink more.

2. Refill the water bowls at least three times a day. Dogs do not like to drink water if it is not fresh.

3. Have at least two water bowls in your home. Especially if you have a house with multiple levels. Keep one bowl on each level. 

4. Bring a portable water bowl (and water!) on outings. Even if you only go out for a couple of hours, stress/excitement is dehydrating.

5. Add water to their kibble. This is a really easy way to control their water intake.

HOW TO USE CBD OIL FOR DOGS - EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

I first learned about Cannabis Oil, also known as CBD or Hemp oil, from my (amazing, wonderful, and life-changing) acupuncturist. I'm obsessed with her because she helped me in so many ways, but that's a whole different story for another time. She started giving CBD oil to her elderly dog when he was first diagnosed with prostate cancer and supposedly only had a couple months left to live... This was several years ago and he's still alive and doing very well! How great is that?

I'm sharing both of my pups' experience with hemp oil to give you an idea of its benefits and what a game changer it has been for us. I've also included info about finding the best brand and type to use, along with the correct dosage for dogs.

 
Boomer on the left, Ruger on the right

Boomer on the left, Ruger on the right

 

Ruger's Experience:

I started researching all of the incredible benefits and decided to use it on Ruger, my two year old Labrador Retriever/Border Collie mix. I believe his breed type and him being a rescue, contribute to his anxious personality. He's incredibly sensitive to noise and his ears are would always be pinned back (see the photo of him above for example). This can be a sign of being scared or uncomfortable in dogs. He would usually be hiding in a closet and was very timid, I took him to the vet a couple times because I was so worried about him. The vet suggested a doggie version of Zanax but that was not an option in my book. Within a week of starting him on CBD oil we began to see the changes. He has become more confident and outgoing, and I can tell he feels more comfortable in general. His ears are in a more relaxed position which make him look much happier, which makes me happier. We've had him on it for over a year and I'm sure we will keep him on it for the rest of his life.

Boomer's Experience:

About 6-7 months after we got Boomer we started giving him hemp oil as well. We used it as a wellness supplement to (hopefully) prevent cancer and any other chronic diseases because of his age. The biggest benefit we've seen with him is a major positive change in his limping. He has severe arthritis in one elbow, we think it came from an injury (before we had him) that was never properly treated. In my opinion, CBD oil works in the sense that is brings you to a normal baseline with whatever issue you are treating. For example, if you use it for depression - you won't all of a sudden feel extremely happy and never have any worries again... Instead, one day you will notice you don't feel sad anymore, there will simply be an absence of the depression. Boomer used to limp every day and it was heart breaking to watch. He would be worse after laying down for a long time or from playing fetch and we would give him Rimadyl for the pain. I felt uncomfortable giving him that medication every single day when it's known to have other negative side effects. After starting him on the CBD's we noticed Boomer hadn't been limping anymore. And the more we thought about it, the more we realized we actually hadn't seen him limp in several months! (We did give him Dasuquin with ASU for several months before trying CBD oil and we barely noticed a difference). 

 
Happy dog. He actually hates being in the car, he becomes stressed and sheds like crazy. This is a great time to add some extra drops of oil

Happy dog. He actually hates being in the car, he becomes stressed and sheds like crazy. This is a great time to add some extra drops of oil

 

Use CBD oil for these symptoms:

  • Reducing inflammation/pain
  • Reducing stress/anxiety
  • Increasing cognitive function
  • Reducing or helping to control seizures
  • Inhibiting cancer cell growth

And if your dog suffers from anything else not on this list, do some research and see if it might help because the benefits include a long list that goes on forever. Another bonus - you can also look into how it can help you, too!


Where to buy:

I use Bluebird Botanicals, they are one of the top companies in the industry and have amazing stuff. My acupuncturist got me hooked on this brand and advised me to use the Classic formula, which has no unnecessary fillers. So, this is not an ad in any way, I just genuinely love them! Whatever brand you choose to buy, make sure you do your research. You definitely get what you pay for, and quality really matters.

 
A quick photo of a bottle of the  Classic formula  from  Bluebird Botanicals

A quick photo of a bottle of the Classic formula from Bluebird Botanicals

 

Dosages:

For dosing, I give about 1 drop per 10 pounds. So, Ruger gets 5-6 drops and Boomer gets 8-9. If one of them is particularly anxious from a stressful vet trip or from being bathed (because we all know how traumatic that is), I give them a few extra drops for a bit of a bigger dose.

 

We hope CBD oil works for you and your pups!