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By Dr. Sherry Weaver

Stomach expansion due to a build-up of gas or froth which cannot be expelled by belching or passage along the intestinal tract will lead to bloat. Bloat, or gastric dilatation, can occur rapidly and be fatal within hours of onset.

The causes of bloat are not yet well understood, but it seems to occur most in large breeds of dogs. If you notice your dog gagging, trying unsuccessfully to vomit, displaying strings of saliva hanging from the mouth, and showing signs of distended abdomen, call your veterinarian immediately. The belly will appear rounded and full, and be rather hard and tight when you touch it.

Veterinarians always consider a bloat case a true emergency that demands immediate attention for the best change of a good outcome for the patient.  If death occurs, it is usually a result of circulatory failure and shock.

First aid for bloat is not a good idea, this situation required trained medical attention. Relieving stomach gas yourself via stomach penetration though the skin should be considered only if you are in a remote location where veterinary attention cannot be acquired for hours.

Again, the best option is to seek immediate medical care from your veterinarian.

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