I wanted to discuss this horrible health issue; it is something I try to share with as many people as I can. Knowing the signs can save lives; being that quick action is imperative if it occurs. Bloat - is when a dogs stomach swells from an excess of gas in it's stomach. Large and giant breeds are far more at risk than are small dogs.
Gastric Torsion - is when the stomach actually flips; cutting off the entrance and exit to the stomach causing a balloon effect. This is life threatening.
There is no one cause of bloat; it can simply happen but it can also be genetic. Bloat is definitely something you need to be aware of; especially if you have a large breed dog. There are many different ideas of what causes bloat; one is dry dog food. Dry dog food is like a sponge; it can absorb a large quantity of water which causes the food to swell. This can make one cup of food into 2 cups or more. Which means that when you feed your dog; you do not want them drinking a large quantity of water. This is why an hour before and after eating you should not exercise your dog. I always make it a habit to not feed a meal before I exercise the dogs. A small snack is the best and safest way to go when exercising your dog.
Another risk is the amount of food; when talking about dog food, less is better. All dogs should eat at least two meals a day which helps to lessen the amount of food in the stomach at one time. If you need to put weight on your dog; do it slowly. If you are planning on a big day of hiking or running; bring small sized snacks and try to use as fresh food as you can. Also; when your dog does drink, don't let them chug down a gallon at a time. Break down the drinking to a little at a time; less is more.
Sometimes bloat just happens; if you know the signs you can get to the ER quickly. This is a great link with many of the symptoms related to bloat.
There is much controversy over raised or non raised bowls related to bloat. My opinion on the subject is that if my dog wants to get closer to the food; they can lie down, which is what Tilley opts to do about 70% of the time. And when Luke and I are on a walk I always try to keep his water bowl down near the ground. Otherwise; if the bowl is held high, I can hear the air that is going down into his stomach with the water.
Be aware; be prepared.