When adopting a greyhound, one of the things that your rescue organization will stress is to use a raised feeder, or elevated food bowl. The reason? To prevent bloat.
Bloat generally occurs when the stomach twists upon itself, trapping air, food and water, which can cause a rapid onset of shock. If left untreated, the consequences can be deadly.
Learning to recognize the symptoms can help save your dog’s life:
– distended abdomen
– unsuccessful attempts to belch or vomit
– nonproductive retching
– excessive salivation
– panting; shortness of breath
– cold body temperature
– pale gums
– rapid heartbeat
The ASPCA indicates that the precise cause of bloat is unknown, but we know that greyhounds and other large barrel-chested breeds are prone to this life-threatening condition. With approximately 25% of dogs dying as a result of bloat, even despite immediate treatment, our focus should remain on prevention.
The ASPCA recommends preventing bloat by the following: feeding several small meals throughout the day in lieu of one or two larger ones, adding canned food to your dog’s diet (if advisable by your vet), maintaining appropriate weight, encouraging water consumption but not over-consumption, and limiting rigorous exercise before and after meals.
The ASPCA also recommends avoiding feeding your dog from a raised bowl, which is curious since I had always been taught to use a raised feeder with my greys. Upon further investigation, I was surprised to see other references to this practice, including one from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine, which conducted a study over five years, and published the results in the Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association, May/June 2004. Granted, this study is over ten years old, and I was only able to locate a veterinarian’s summary (not the official abstract) of the study, but it concluded that although the two highest risk factors for bloat are quantity of food given at each meal, and frequency of meals, feeding from a raised feeder also increased the risk.
I’m interested to know your thoughts, whether you are a greyhound parent, or a veterinarian. Do you use a raised food bowl? If you’ve investigated this issue, what have you learned?