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Bloat questions

October 14th, 2005, 11:08 AM
We have a 1 year old Bernese Mtn Dog (just rescued her) and we want to be sure we avoid the possibility of Bloat. I did not find the BMD on the list of dogs at high risk but being that she is a big dog, I want to make sure we are doing everything we can.

We have an elevated food bowl for her, we feed her at least 45 mins after her walk in the morning and then take her out to go 30-40 mins after that just b4 we go to work. Are we doing the right thing? (she eats pretty fast...not sure how to cure that)

Is there anything else we can be doing? Our schedule in the morning is limited so we try to stretch her feeding and walk out as far as possible while still leaving time for one more quick opportunity to go b4 we have to leave. Our schedule has been this:

6:00 wake up and take her for a half hour walk and to go
7:15 Feed her food and water
8:00 Take her out for 15 mins to go

At night:
5:15 feed her
6:30 or 7 take her for a half hour walk
9:45 take her our 1 last time b4 bed

October 14th, 2005, 11:11 AM
I always thought that an elevated bowl was good, but in some recent threads, it has been said (by people who admittedly know much more on the topic than I do) that elevated bowls are bad, and contribute to bloating. You may want to eliminate the elevation.

October 14th, 2005, 11:16 AM
Really!? We are going to the vet tomorrow so I can ask him what his thoughts are on that. We received the bowl from the people we adopted her from so we do not know much about the elevated bowl concept and if it does in fact help or hurt.

October 14th, 2005, 11:27 AM
The only thing elevated bowls help are their shoulders and back when they are older. I have seen bloat in dogs, it is not funny. But unfortunetly no matter how hard you try to decrease the odds, the odds are still there. If they are going to get it, they are going to get it. Seen it many times in GSD and rottweilers

October 14th, 2005, 02:20 PM
Here is a great site on Bloat (Courtesy of MonaB)
And here is a thread in which bloat was discussed:

October 14th, 2005, 02:26 PM
I think the most important things I have heard so far are:
- no exercise at least 1 hour before and after eating
- no excessive drinking, especially after meals

Mona also posted a link that said try to avoid kibble with citric acid in them (although that is next to impossible).

I hope your vet is up to date on the studies about elevated food bowls because if he says "no, they're fine", I don't know... :eek:

October 14th, 2005, 02:56 PM
I have heard bad things about elevated bowls as well. I had actually asked about it here once and was told that it was bad. Then I asked my trainer who agreed that an elevated bowl is not good for a dog.

doggy lover
October 14th, 2005, 03:48 PM
My last dog bloated at 5 years of age, it seems to happen to middle aged dogs more but can happen to younger dogs. He was a BMD cross with GSD, both are high risk for bloat. We did elevate his bowl at home but we were on our way home from the cottage when he bloated, so nothing to do with eating. He was a very anxious dog and this could have been alot of his problems. We were lucky we caught it before he twisted and he lived another 4 and a half years until we lost him to bone cancer last year. Just read as much as you can about bloat, try to follow what you are told, but make sure you know the signs of bloat, the faster you can get to a vet the better chances for your dog if it happens. If you have any more questions I'll be happy to answer on what I experienced with Travis. i love BMD"s send pics.

October 14th, 2005, 03:58 PM
Wow, I had no idea about the elevated bowls being bad, I guess I'll drop it to the floor tonight when I am home. The previous owners said that they bought it when they were in Petsmart when they 1st bought the BMD and someone there recomended they get it because of the bloat. I guess everyone has different views, but more seem to think the elevated bowl is not a good thing.

My friends have a 3-4 year old St. Bernard and they use a regular bowl and are careful about feeding times and they have never had a problem with bloat. It hit close to home for them when one of their good friends had a huge Fila that experienced bloat and they said the operation cost THOUSANDS!! That is scary! At least they caught it in time and the Fila was fine.

October 14th, 2005, 04:07 PM
If she's not spayed yet then you can consider having her stomach tacked... it doesn't stop bloat but it does stop the torsion which is what tends to kill them. I know several Dane owners and Berner owners who have done this during the altering for safety sake. I don't know how costly it is though. Most large breed owners I know also still raise their dogs feed bowls.

doggy lover
October 14th, 2005, 04:14 PM
It cost me about $ 1,800 :ca: when Travis bloated and that was over 5 years ago now. We had rushed him to an emergency vet they passed a stomach tube to let the air out, and then 2 days later we had the surgery that BMDluver is talking about at our own vets, looking into getting it done when she gets fixed would be a great idea. Not to scare you but dogs can die within a few hours of getting bloat, and if they get the torsion even with surgery its very touch and go, and that would cost more.

October 14th, 2005, 04:50 PM
Yes, from what I have heard, the surgery can be more than $5000 if there is torsion. You don't want that. A dane at our park had that and the owner had to put him down because he couldn't afford it (he was having a baby), but he regretted it like crazy. :(

October 16th, 2005, 12:47 AM
Mona also posted a link that said try to avoid kibble with citric acid in them (although that is next to impossible).

So true Prin.This is why it also states not to pre-moisten it if it contains the citric acid.And it also states not to just feed dry.

I did not find the BMD on the list of dogs at high risk

It's right after Basset Hound.Bloat has nothing to do with the size of the dog,it's in deep chested dogs.So I would say if your breed of dog is not listed,I wouldn't be to concened in Bloat.

Bloat is at a higher risk for dogs 7+,but does occur in those from 2+.And it is seen less in females.

A friend lost her St.Bernard to Bloat at 8 months old.This is very rare.Emily died during surgery.And the cost if I remember was $3000

I would definately not elevate her food.

I have raised GSD's.And I have done everything in my power to avoid Bloat in them.My current GSD is 9,and so far so good....... :thumbs up

October 16th, 2005, 06:25 AM
How timely. I was just reading a thread about this on my rottweiler board!

The most recent studies seem to show that elevated dishes increase the chances of bloat instead of decreasing them. Also, excercising before or after meals does not seem to be a factor.

Foods with citric acid seem to increase chances and adding water to foods with citric acid is even worse.

Here are the links to two major studies.

Tufts (

Purdue (

October 16th, 2005, 10:22 AM
I've NEVER heard of elevating food bowls increasing risk of bloat...and only heard talk of it decreasing risk...does anyone know the thought behind elevated food bowls increasing the risk of bloat?

What I do to minimize risk of bloat are three things:

- they eat AFTER exercise, never before
- food bowls elevated about 6-12 inches (I have one giant)
- warm water in kibble

The reasons being

- full stomach + exercise/running = increased chance of torsion (the physics)
- elevation to minimize amount of ingested air during feeding, for obvious reasons
- warm water to decrease amount of air in the kibble and again minimize amount of air ingested in a feeding

I don't at all prescribe to the thinking that if it's going to happen it's going to happen. You can and should mitigate the risk, esp if you own an at-risk dog. There are high risk breeds/dogs - deep chested breeds and larger dogs. Bloat isn't like cancer in that there's nothing you can do about it. It's a mechanical thing - air in the stomach, causing it to distend. Torsion/volvulus is a very serious complication and again that's a mechanical thing, thus the proposed relationship between exercising on a full stomache etc.

Just found a good site here

For higher quality info, google GDV or volvulus instead of bloat.

edit - looked at both of LavenderRott's links. The Perdue one has no mention of increased risk of bloat due to raising food bowls (in the abstract anyway, it is as yet unpublished), and the "Tufts" link is not a study done at Tufts, just an article written by someone at Tufts who talks about the Perdue study. Not enough to change my mind, or practice...

October 16th, 2005, 10:46 AM
Just did some research in a Small Animal Clinical Nutrition text...will retype some points of interest...

Three things are necessary for the development of GDV. They are:

1. Laxity of the gastrohepatic ligament
2. Gastric dilation with gas
3. Obstruction to eructation and passage of gas from the stomache


Gas in the stomache of dogs with GDV has been shown to be primarily air, which differs greatly in composition from the gas produced by bacterial fermentation. Thus, aerophagia is the primary source of gas in dogs with GDV, not bacterial fermentation. Production of gas in the stomache from bacterial fermentation occurs following death and initially led to the belief that it was responsible for GDV. Aerophagia can be caused by spasms of the upper gastrointestinal tract, which may be induced by gastrin. Aerophagia also increases as the rate of food consumption increases, and with excitement and stress.

As described above, the following factors appear to predispose to acute GDV:

1. Consumption of large amounts of food at a single feeding
2. Physical activity shortly after eating a large meal
2. Excessive dietary calcium
4. Rapid food consumption, which occurs to a greater extend when:
a. Dogs are fed with others
b. If they are excited when fed
c. The less frequently they are fed

A number of other factors, including soy and dry expanded cereal based commercial dog foods, have been speculated, without any valid supportive data, to predispose to FDV. However, as has been reported, GDV occurs in animals whether they are being fed 1) free-choice or meal-fed, 2) meat or cereal based diets, 3) soybean-containing or soybean-free foods, or 4) small or large quantities. Attempts to reproduce GDV by dietary manipulation have been unsuccessful. In one study, no difference was found in gastric motility or emptying in large-breed dogs fed either: 1) a canned meat-based, soybean meal-free, commerical dog food, 2) a dry, expanded cereal-based soy-containing commercial dog food moistened with water before feeding or 3) the same food fed dry. Thus, this study suggests that neither soybean meal or a dry expanded dog food fed dry appear to be causative factors for GDV. As these investigators concluded, most large dogs are fed dry cereal-based food for reasons of cost and ease of use, and these diets may have been wrongly incriminated as a predisposing factor in GDV.

.....reading this, I am satisfied that my 3 habits are worth continuing...nb aerophagia means swallowing air, prevention of which is the reason I elevate their food dish and wet their kibble before they eat.

Enough typing for one day!! :P

October 16th, 2005, 11:33 AM
Foods with citric acid seem to increase chances and adding water to foods with citric acid is even worse.

This is so very true.This is why the dry food should NOT be pre-moistened.

As for the elevating of the bowl,many sites that I have searched stated not to elevate it.And this is something I never have or will do.

Lowering the Risks:
After reviewing the results of Glickman's study, if you believe your dog may be in the high risk category, there are steps you can take to actively reduce the chances of bloat/torsion. Glickman makes the following preliminary recommendations based on what already is known:

1) Don't breed a dog if a first degree relative had suffered an episode of bloat.
2) Consider a prophylactic gastroplexy for dogs that fit the high risk profile. (Note: It should only be performed on dogs already neutered or will be neutered at the time of gastroplexy. Breeders who prevent high risk dogs from bloating by opting for this surgery, but then continue to breed the dogs, mask the problem and destroy selection criteria in a breeding context.
3) Owners who have dogs that eat rapidly should do anything that they can to slow the speed of eating. The most common and effective strategy was to place a large object that the dog had to eat around in the food bowl. For example: A heavy chain. A heavy link chain forces the dog to eat under and around it unlike a large rock that can be pushed away.
4) Owners of anxious or fearful dogs should consider behavior modification and consult a behaviorist or vet. In some instances drug therapy is warranted.
5) Feed smaller, multiple meals instead of one large meal per day.
6) Do NOT elevate food bowl.

That came from this one.

As for the exercising before and after being fed,it does play a factor on it.Especially if the dog rolls around after being fed.

October 16th, 2005, 12:01 PM
Most high end kibbles do not have citric acid.
Mona also posted a link that said try to avoid kibble with citric acid in them (although that is next to impossible).

October 16th, 2005, 12:23 PM
Most high end kibbles do not have citric acid.
So citric acid and ascorbic acid are two different things then? Sorry, chem was never my best subject. Just want to make sure I'm feeding the right thing to my gang. :o

October 16th, 2005, 12:33 PM

"Since both the veterinarian and the university study suggest that elevated feed bowls increase the chance of bloating for large dogs, I would recommend that anyone thinking of purchasing such an item for their pet, please think twice about it.


"In it, a veterinarian was asked about the risk of elevated dog bowls causing bloating in a dog. The vet couldn’t really answer the question, due to the lack of real studies, but seemed to feel that larger breeds of dogs are more likely to bloat when eating from an elevated dog dish."

Still have not seen anything compelling on this vet's preference is irrelevent in my judgement. I have not seen the actual study yet but one study wouldn't do it either. There is a study in a peer-reviewed journal that found a raw diet to cause bone deformities and death. Context is huge and that, and the researcher's presuppositions, can and do influence results. Just my opinion; one study will get my attention but I would need more compelling information to actually change my opinion on something.

Sounded like another person's opinion based on this one study that apparently doesn't like elevating food bowls...don't mean to sound cynical but I like to know who I'm listening to, before I listen to them...who wrote this? A vet, scientist? The person runs an internet development company and has a blog website; no disrespect to him but his opinion is to me, just someone else's opinion.

Again refers to the study that I have not been able to see yet, and again JMO but I'd need more than one study to be compelled. It's a known fact in the world of research that two equally valid studies can and do often come up with different results; and that studies are repeated to yield different results than the initial study. Again I've seen studies that have found links between raw diets and mortality (in a causal role). There is a study that theorizes an increased risk in osteosarcoma with early spay/neuter, someone once kept throwing that in my face trying to prove I should not do early spay/neuter. One needs to be able to look at something from every angle; the theorized risk is only sensible, from a physiological basis (effects of testosterone on closure of epiphyseal plates), and again it is ONE study - plus what about other factors, such as the increased risk of mammary cancer that every cycle brings upon a bitch? So you do early spay/neuter and MAYBE very slightly increase the risk of bone cancers, and also decrease the risk of mammary cancer.

Personally I research a lot, so my values are based on a lot, so it would take substantial info to the contrary for me to change my views/practice. I tend not to develop firm views on things I have NOT researched quite a bit. I think that healthy skepticism can be a good thing.

As for the exercising before and after being fed,it does play a factor on it.Especially if the dog rolls around after being fed.

Agreed, this is why my dogs are never exercised right after meals.

October 16th, 2005, 12:38 PM
Ascorbic acid is just Vitamin C.

October 16th, 2005, 12:45 PM
doggirl just posted,ascorbic acid is vitamin c.Citric acid is different,used in shampoo,food,pop,detergent and cleansers.It is citric acid that makes the fizzy reaction in those bath bombs things.
So citric acid and ascorbic acid are two different things then? Sorry, chem was never my best subject. Just want to make sure I'm feeding the right thing to my gang. :o

October 16th, 2005, 12:55 PM
Why is citric acid added to some kibbles? Antioxidant/preservative? Seems like a strange choice if it's so reactive, in light of that you don't exactly want gas generation in utero...

October 16th, 2005, 01:06 PM
Exactly-antioxidant/preservative.Maybe cheaper than ascorbic acid,I dont know.I haven't seen any food I would use that contains it.

October 16th, 2005, 01:25 PM
Thanks Ladies... just want to make sure that it's just not another type of the wrong thing. There's so many darn foods on the market and label reading appears to be extremely important when selecting a premium kibble. Berners have such a predisposition to cancers already that I would hate to feed something that would encourage cancer cells or bloat or any other health issues if it can be avoided.

Doggirl, you have an a very good knowledge of these subjects and it's great that it can be shared.

October 16th, 2005, 01:58 PM
I just looked up ascorbic acid and citric acid on and they are pretty different. Yey! I thought they were the same too. :o