No, this is not a new soap. This is a very serious matter.

 I learned about this for the first time sadly when the lovely Electra died suddenly.

We had all been out for a walk with her and some other dogs in the evening. All was well.

The next day I received a call to tell me she was at the vets and would likely not make it. She died on the operating table that morning.

This was the dog that turned me into a true dog lover. I was devastated that such a beautiful creature could be taken away with no warning. She was in good health and was only 8 years old. She was a beautiful grey ghost. That is the name for the Weimaraner.

The Weimeraner is a large, deep chested dog. Like many other deep chested dogs, she was more susceptible to this horrible thing, called bloat by the layman. The technical name for it is gastric torsion.

You don’t see it coming. It is not preventable. One day a dog is healthy. In what could be a matter of minutes, it can be fatal. What happens is that gas forms in the dog’s stomach and the stomach twists. Blood flow to the stomach becomes blocked. The gas and fluid become trapped in the stomach with no way out. This is an emergency situation. A dog’s life is at stake.

 There are signs and stages, yet it can happen so fast that the average dog owner will not see it or even think to look for such a thing. The signs can be, in the early stage, the dog may pant and drool. Dogs do that when they are hot, and that might go unnoticed. The dog’s abdomen may look enlarged, but in a large chested dog you may not see it, and in a coated dog you definitely would not see it. If this horrible thing is happening the dog will pant and drool more and may show sign of discomfort by whining. There will be attempts to vomit. The abdomen will be more enlarged. The gums will be dark red. The dog’s heart beat will be racing. Unless you are checking these things regularly, you would not notice.

It can happen so quickly.

In the most dangerous stage the dog will not be able to stand up. The abdomen will be even more enlarged. The gums will be white or blue. This can all happened in a matter of minutes, and too late for the dog.

It can also happen over a longer period, perhaps an hour or so.

At any stage this is an absolute no question about it emergency situation.

We did not know about Electra. We did not know why, what, or how this happened and we never will.

I was not with her through it, but her owner did all he could do. He took her to the vet the first sign. They tried to save the lovely girl, but she did not make it through the operation.

And yes, I am crying now as I write this.

 What causes this? Well, there are different opinions on it, but what does seem to be consistent is that no one knows for sure. Some of the risk factors are mentioned as -first, the breed of the dog. Large breeds with deep and narrow chests. The weimeraner is on this list. Some other breeds with this type of chest are the German shorthaired pointer, the Doberman, and the Great Dane. You can see by the look of the dog. Built for sport! Some of the other dogs said to be at risk are the St Bernard, Newfoundland, and English sheepdog. These are obviously the very large breed dogs.

Another mention is the way dogs eat. Some dogs gulp down their food. I know my Dalmatian used to do that. I would put down her plate and it was gone before I could blink. Eating fast and large amounts is a risk factor many experts say. Just like us, when we gulp our food, we can get gas trapped. We have a different structure and the release of the gas for us can be easier. If you have ever suffered from heartburn, trapped gas, you will know what I am talking about. This can be an extremely painful thing. If you have had it, first time, you think you are going to die as it feels like you are having a heart attack. I don’t know if a dog suffering feels this pain. I hope not.

The food itself is also mentioned as a risk factor. Studies have found that kibble with a high content of fat and kibble with citric acid, if the food was moistened, increased the risk. Most experts will also say to not feed your dog beans, or any food that is known to produce gas.

 What can we do? Be aware. That is the most important thing. Now that I am aware of it, even though technically I do not have a dog on the risk list, my dog has a structure similar to the large chested dog and for that reason I am more aware and observant of any unusual signs.

Feed your dog more often, and in smaller meals. Put something in the food to slow the eating down.

There are even dog bowls designed to slow the dog down) sort of like a TV tray (come on I can’t be the only one who has eaten a meal from a TV dinner tray!

Here is a company that sells such a bowl.