Aid For Bloat
Dilatation - Volvulous)
Siefried Zahn D.V.M
Adapted from "Bloat in Large Dogs"
Published by Univelt, Inc. 1983
"The following first aid procedures have worked for me. However, I
cannot be responsible for anyone misunderstanding or misusing these procedures.
I highly recommend everyone discuss bloat first aid procedures with their
personal veterinarians and follow their advice explicitly."
BLOAT FIRST AID
(This uses a Great Dane as an example, but, Dachshunds can and do bloat)
A. The procedures in this document should be used to provide first
aid only to dogs in a bloat condition. They are not intended to replace
prompt, professional treatment by a qualified veterinarian. Please read
and understand these instructions completely before attempting the first
aid procedures described herein
B. A bloat kit, which includes these instructions, was prepared
for use on my Danes by people entrusted with their care and well-being.
Additionally, I provide a copy of these instructions to everyone getting
a Great Dane from me. NEVER ASSUME THAT ANYONE ALREADY OWNING OR PURCHASING
A DANE KNOWS ABOUT BLOAT. Please share these instructions with others
that are concerned with bloat and what aid they can give to dogs in a bloat
condition. I strongly believe properly administered first aid will help
to ensure a dog in a bloat condition has a good chance of survival once
it gets to a veterinarian.
PROMPT, PROFESSIONAL HELP IS ALWAYS REQUIRED IN BLOAT CASES!
C. Recommended Bloat Kit Contents:
) Instructions for use
) Rolls of tape (3 rolls, 1 in. x 10 yd)
) Stomach tube (2) (different diameters). 5 ft. length bevelled at one
end, with two holes drilled in tube 2 & 3 inches up from the bevelled
end. Pre-measured and marked for each Great Dane in household (see page
4, NOTE 1)
) 14 gauge or larger needles (2) (1 1/2" to 3" length)
) K. Y. jelly
) Gas absorbent (Digel, GasEase, etc)
D. A bloat kit should be available wherever Great Danes are
located (home, van, RV, etc).
2. Bloat phases, symptoms and recommended actions:
A. Canine Bloat (GASTRIC DILATION-VOLVULUS) is an acute disease
or digestive problem believed to be caused by excessive swallowing of air
while eating, gastrointestinal secretions, and gas for food fermenting
in the stomach.
BLOAT IS A LIFE-THREATENING EMERGENCY.
B. Some symptoms may be anxiety, evidence of abdominal fullness
after meals, heavy salivating, whining, pacing, getting up and lying down,
stretching, looking at abdomen, unproductive attempts to vomit, labored
breathing, disinterest in food, and stilted gait. Severe symptoms, such
as dark red, blue, grey or white gums, a rapid heartbeat and a weak pulse
are normally followed by prostration and death.
3. Determining Bloat Phases:
A. Observing the dog's behavior and symptoms and comparing to those
listed in TABLE 1 is the initial step in this process.
) Look at color of gums (subpara 3B. (1)).
) Determine dog's heartbeat/pulse rate (subparas 3B. (2) and 3B. (3)).
) Note the rate of abdomen distention.
B. Helpful hints in deciding the bloat phase of a dog (Practice
the following three actions on a well dog beforehand):
(1) Look at the dog's gums. If the gums are pink to red shade
and you press the gum firmly with your finger and then let go, the color
returns immediately, then the dog may be normal or may only be in phase
1. If the gums are deep red, grey, blue, or white and, you press with your
finger, the color returns slowly or not at all, you have an extreme situation
(phase 3). You should start first aid immediately!
Recommend a copy of this table be made readily available as a quick
reference wherever Great Danes are located (home, kennel, RV, van, etc).
BLOAT PHASES, SYMPTOMS AND RECOMMENDED ACTIONS
1. Pacing, restlessness, panting and salivating.
2. Unproductive attempts to vomit (every 10-20 minutes).
3. Abdomen exhibits fullness and beginning to enlarge.
Call Veterinarian to advise of bloat case enroute. Transport dog to
1. Very restless, whining, panting continuously, heavy salivating.
2. Unproductive attempts to vomit (every 2-3 minutes).
3. Dark red gums.
4. High heart rate (80 to 100 BPM).
5. Abdomen is enlarged and tight, emits hollow sound when thumped.
Apply first aid if Veterinarian care is more than 10 minutes away.
Then, transport dog to Veterinarian immediately.
1. Gums are white or blue
2. Dog unable to stand or has a spread-legged, shaky stance.
3. Abdomen is very enlarged.
4. Extremely high heart rate (100 BPM or greater)and weak pulse.
Death is imminent! Apply first aid immediately. Transport dog to
Veterinarian as soon as possible (even while applying first aid if
Recommend a copy of this table be available as a quick, ready reference
Great Danes are located (home, kennel, RV, van, etc).
(2) Listen to the dog's heartbeat using a stethoscope if possible.
If a stethoscope is not available, use your ears and eyes. The heartbeat
can be best heard on the left side of the dog's chest just behind the elbow
and is strong enough to be visible on the chest wall (figure 1). A normal
heartbeat is irregular when the dog is resting and often consists of a
double beat (thump...thump...thump-thump...thump...thump, etc). Using a
timepiece with a second hand, count the number of heartbeats for 10 seconds.
Multiply the number of heartbeats x 6 to find the Beats Per Minute (BPM)
(12 beats x 6 = 72 BPM, etc.). The normal heart rate/pulse rate of a large
breed dog is 60-80 BPM.
(3) Take the pulse rate of the dog by pressing your fingers inside
the dog's rear leg just below where it joins the body. At this location,
you can feel a cord-like structure called the Femoral Artery (figure 2).
Count the pulses for a ten second period and multiply by six to determine
the rate of the dog's pulse (same procedure as discussed above). You can
also observe the strength of the pulse at this location.
4. Recommended actions:
A. When your dog is showing any of the bloat symptoms you should:
) Attempt to determine the bloat phase he may be in.
) Call your veterinarian, discuss symptoms and ask for guidance.
) If you conclude your dog is in phase 1 bloat and you can reach your veterinarian
within 30 minutes, do not apply first aid procedures. Go directly to the
) If you conclude your dog is in phase 2 bloat and you cannot reach your
veterinarian within 10 minutes you should attempt to insert a stomach tube
before going to the veterinarian.
)For phase 3 bloat, if you cannot reach your veterinarian within 10 minutes
apply first aid immediately. Attempt to insert a stomach tube. If this
is not acomplished quickly, you should use Trocharization procedures to
relieve the gas pressure! Death is imminent!
B. DOGS MAY GO TO PHASE 3 BLOAT WITHOUT SEEMINGLY GOING THROUGH
PHASES 1 OR 2. PHASE 3 CAN BE FATAL IN MINUTES. BE ALERT!
5. First aid:
A. In bloat Phases 2 and 3, attempt to pass a tube through the dog's
mouth into the stomach. Two persons are normally required for this procedure.
NOTE 1: Pre-measure and mark each stomach tube for each Great
Dane in the household. To do this, place the dog in a sit position. Measure
the stomach tube on the outside of the dog from the front of the mouth
to the last rib and mark the tube at the front of the mouth with a piece
Remove an eighteen inch strip of tape from the tape roll. Insert the roll
of tape in the dog's mouth behind the front teeth. Ensure the tape roll
hole is pointed toward the dog's front and rear. Using the strip of removed
tape, tightly bind the do g's muzzle with the roll of tape in position
Lubricate the bevelled end of the stomach tube with K. Y. jelly (be careful
not to plug up the tube holes with the jelly).
Carefully insert the tube into the dog's mouth through the hole in the
tape roll (figure 4). Some resistance will be felt when the tube reaches
the dog's throat. However, the dog will start to swallow as you push the
tube deeper into the throat and the tube should enter the esophagus with
little resistance. It the dog does not swallow the tube or the tube seems
stuck, gently move the tube back and forth until it enters the esophagus.
Once the tube is in the esophagus, gently blow through the tube as you
advance it toward the stomach. This will expand the esophagus and allow
the tube to pass more easily.
The tube may encounter a resistance when it reaches the stomach because
of muscle spasms in the stomach valve or twisting of the stomach (torsion).
If this happens, blow more strongly through the tube while turning the
tube in a clockwise direction. If the tube does not enter the stomach,
continue blowing and carefully turn the tube back and forth.
You will feel a quick, forward movement of the tube when it enters the
stomach. Caution! Do not insert the tube too far into the stomach and
pierce the stomach wall.
Immediately remove the tube from your mouth. Gas will be expelled through
the tube as it enters the stomach (figure 5). Fluids will follow the gas.
After the gas and fluids stop, you should squeeze the dog's abdomen to
remove as much of the remaining stomach contents as possible. To do this,
stand over the dog facing the same direction as the dog. Grasp the dog
with locked wrists around the abdo men and squeeze firmly (figure 6). Continue
to remove the stomach contents for five/ten minutes.
Cover the end of the tube with your thumb and carefully remove the tube
from the dog. Then, transport the dog to the veterinarian immediately.
Note 2: If you are unsuccessful in inserting the tube into
the stomach after five minutes, it is probably not possible to pass a stomach
B. If you are unable to pass a stomach tube and the dog displays
phase 3 bloat symptoms, you have a very short time to act to save the dog's
life. By this time, the dog will normally be gasping for air and unable
to stand. The abdomen will be very distended and sound like a drum when
thumped. The heart rate will be over 100 BPM and the gums will be white,
blue or grey.
C. Trocharization must take place immediately. This action can
save your dog's life. The veterinarian will appreciate the fact that you
took the Trocharization action and brought in a dog that has a chance of
Locate the last rib on the dog's left side. The stomach is located on the
left side of the dog's abdomen under the last few ribs (you will not have
any problem finding the stomach because it will be very distended).
Remove the cap from the 14 gauge needle.
Firmly grasp the blunt end of the needle and with a sharp motion, stab
the needle into the dog's stomach on the left side behind the last rib
(figure 7). Gas will be expelled immediately through the needle. Do not
be concerned about hurting the dog because he is already in such intense
pain from the bloat and torsion he will not notice the pain from the needle.
Squeeze the abdomen (subpara 5.A.(8) above), then remove the needle. Immediately
transport to a veterinarian.
6. Recommendations to help avoid Canine Bloat:
A. Veterinarians continue to study the bloat problem and still have
many unanswered questions. Researchers prepared the following recommendations
to help prevent canine bloat. You should discuss these recommendations
with your veterinarian and other Great Dane owners:
Feed the dogs two or three times daily, rather than once a day, and at
times when someone can observe them after they have eaten.
Avoid vigorous exercise, excitement and stress one hour before and two
hours after feeding. Walking is okay because it helps stimulate normal
Feed dogs individually and in a quiet location.
Make diet changes gradually over a 3-5 day period.
Ensure water is always available but limit the amount immediately after
Watch for any actions or behavior that may signal abdominal discomfort
(abdominal fullness, pacing, salivating, whining, getting up and lying
down, stretching, looking at abdomen, anxiety and unsuccessful attempts
to vomit, etc.
Establish a good relationship with a veterinarian. Discuss emergency procedures,
preventative surgery (Gastropexy (circumcostal, tube, incisional)) and
overall medical management of your dog.
If you are interested in purchasing a complete Bloat Kit, this can
be done by contacting:
J & J Enterprises
24710 Reynolds Highway
or by e-mailing Dr. F.S. Jacobs DVM at
(note: this email address is no longer active)
Complete bloat kits are available for $60 and hard copies of the Bloat
Book are $5
I would like to thank Siegried Zahn D.V.M. for making the content of
this Web Page available for reproduction.