Newfoundlands are a giant breed dog with a deep chest. This deep and strong chest gives them the large appearance that all of us Newfie owners love and admire.
Unfortunately, this broad chest also makes them prone to a life-threatening condition called dog bloat or in medical terms, Gastric Dilatation (GDV).
What Is Dog Bloat/GDV?
Dog bloat occurs when the dog’s stomach fills up with a large amount of gas.
The GDV part happens when that large amount of gas in the stomach causes the stomach to flip or rotate.
Once the dog’s stomach flips or rotates, the gas and other stomach contents have nowhere to go because the exit is blocked.
This causes more gas to build up in the stomach and it starts to expand like a balloon.
The gas will continue to build inside the stomach unless it can find a way to exit the stomach.
While the gas and other stomach contents continue to build, the twist that started it all has also compromised the blood vessels.
Since the blood isn’t able to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the tissue that surrounds the stomach, it will start to die.
As the stomach gets bigger, it’s also putting stress on everything that’s around it including other blood vessels which is depriving other vital organs like the heart and blood and oxygen. This results in the buildup of toxins in the dog’s body which can send the dog into shock.
If it sounds scary, it is and what’s even scarier is dog bloat happens fast which is why it’s VERY important to know the signs of bloat so you can get your Newfoundland to the closest emergency clinic.
For me, dog bloat is one of the medical conditions that I fear the most.
Over the years there have been many studies done on dog bloat with no definite answers to why it happens.
This leaves dog owners and dog breeders to try and figure it out on their own.
Preventing Dog Bloat In Your Newfoundland
Unfortunately, there is no full-proof way that you can prevent bloat in any dog but there are a few steps that you can take to attempt to prevent dog blot in your dog:
Gastropexy surgery is when the stomach is “tacked” or stitched to the inside of the dog’s abdominal body wall, the idea being to make a permanent adhesion that will ultimately prevent a future episode of torsion (turning or twisting of the stomach).
It’s important to mention that while this surgery will prevent the stomach from twisting, it can still bloat but it normally isn’t as deadly since the torsion should not take place.
Gastropexy surgery is normally done when a dog bloats but it can also be done as a preventive measure if a dog goes under anesthesia for another procedure like a spay or neuter.
I’ve been asked several times if I’ve done or would do this surgery on one of my Newfoundlands and no, I haven’t had it done but yes, if the opportunity presented itself I would.
I’m not going to put my dogs under anesthesia just to have a gastropexy done but if they were to go under for something in the surrounding area of the body, I would.
FURTHER READING: SHOULD I GET GASTROPEXY TO PREVENT BLOAT IN MY DOG?
Make Sure Your Newfoundland Is Healthy
It’s been shown in scientific studies that conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, or other medical conditions that slow down gut movement may contribute to GDV.
You can also check with your breeder to see if they’re had any dogs that suffered from bloat in their breeder program.
The studies are still ongoing on this but they do suspect that GDV might be hereditary in some dog breeds but not through a gene, through an inherited predisposition for the condition. Ex- chest-depth to chest-width ratio.
I believe a current study is being done on Irish Setters in regards to this claim.
I’m not a breeder so I can’t really say either way but I do like The Great Dane Lady’s comments on this.
Cut Out The Stress
If you have a Newfoundland that has anxiety try to feed them at a time when they’re calm.
Dogs that are stressed tend to eat faster and pant more which can increase the amount of air that they’re swallowing when they eat.
Stress is more likely a trigger for bloat over an exact cause.
Feed Smaller Portions
Most adult Newfies eat on average about 3-4 cups of food twice a day.
Eating smaller amounts of food 2-3 times a day means that the stomach will have less food in it at one time.
This means the Newfie’s body doesn’t have to work so hard to digest one BIG meal.
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Slow Down Eating
If you have a Newfie that likes to gobble up their food as fast as they can, try to slow them down.
You can easily slow them down with a puzzle feeder, an interactive feeder like the West Paw Toppl or add an obstacle to their bowl like a ball that they have to eat around.
I’m not going to touch on a diet here because I’ve known equal amounts of dogs that have suffered from GDV that were fed a kibble diet and those that were fed a raw diet.
FURTHER READING: MY PUPPY EATS TOO FAST! HERE’S HOW TO SLOW THEM DOWN
Don’t Feed Before or After Exercise
When a Newfie is active they tend to pant a lot.
When dogs pant they swallow a lot of air, we don’t want to have them swallowing food and air in rapid amounts.
Give them about 30-60 minutes to settle down before eating and the same amount of time after to rest.
I know this can be hard when you have a puppy because Lou likes to run around the backyard like a racehorse after he eats.
This risk was addressed in a VIN article that reads, “There was no correlation of bloat risk to exercise before or after eating, as most dogs bloated in the middle of the night with an empty, gas-filled stomach.”
I haven’t heard much about it otherwise and I will still try to err on the side of caution.
Slow Down Water Drinking
Newfies love their water and they can easily polish off a bowl of ice-cold water within seconds but it’s best to not let them drink a ton of water after they just got done playing hard.
There are a few water bowls that can help slow down drinking but I don’t know of any Newfie owners that have used them.
You can offer smaller portions of water if your Newf is consuming too much or pull the bowl up until they settle down a bit.
What About Using Elevated Bowls To Prevent Dog Bloat?
Perhaps one of the more controversial questions in our breed is whether or not to use an elevated feeder for a Newfoundland.
The controversy comes from ongoing studies about factors that might contribute to bloat.
The famous Purdue Bloat Study used to advise that elevated feeders helped prevent bloat but recent studies have shown the opposite.
The bloat study is still ongoing so it’s best to speak with your veterinarian or breeder to see what they recommend and do what is best for the dog in front of you.
I’ve always fed my Newfies from semi-elevated feeders but their water is on the ground.
Does Age Matter With GDV?
While any dog of any breed of any age can bloat, studies show that large dogs over the age of 4 are more likely to bloat.
The odds of bloating increase as the age increases. (almost 20% with each year!)
If you think that everyone that owns a Newfoundland knows about bloat, you are greatly mistaken.
Take the time to talk about it with fellow Newfie owners, especially the new ones and spread awareness.
Unfortunately, many of us have known at least one owner (probably more) that has lost a Newfie due to GDV and it’s heartbreaking.
Even people that know the signs and acted quickly have suffered a devastating loss to this condition.
Always make sure that anyone that is caring for your Newfoundland, no matter how short or how long, knows the signs of bloat.
This includes groomers, dog walkers, daycare employees, boarding facilities, training professionals and even your veterinarian.
You can also invest in a bloat kit to have on hand.