10 Things I Wish I’d Known About Dogs

  1. Put Food Bowls On The Floor

    There’s conflicting information out there on whether raised or floor-level food bowls are better for lowering the risk of the deadly condition known as bloat. When this happens, a dog’s stomach fills with gas, then twists. It can come on fast, and is fatal if not promptly treated, usually with surgery to release the gas and restore the stomach to its normal position.

Prevention is the name of the game. One of the simplest things you can do is to use a slow feeder to stop your dog from gulping down his meal. Where confusion arises is in the bowl’s positioning: should it be on the floor, or elevated? Current thinking, as reported by Jerold Bell, DVM, in “Risk Factors for Canine Bloat,” is that elevated bowls may actually increase the risk of bloat for large-breed dogs. So, ditch the fancy platforms and go old-school.

Though floor-level bowls are thought to help, this is the exact opposite of what used to be advised. It’s also worth keeping in mind that there is disagreement, and a fair amount of confusion, as to what causes a dog to bloat. Ultimately, vets don’t really know.

It’s long been thought that vigorous exercise close to mealtimes and guzzling water might be triggers, but Bell’s report didn’t substantiate those popular theories. To the contrary, he noted that most dogs bloated in the middle of the night on empty, gas-filled stomachs. More needs to be learned, but the causes of bloat are likely to be multifactorial.

Many dog owners structure their dogs’ routines to minimize exertion on a full stomach, given that previous studies have suggested that can be a risk factor. Slow feeders at ground level and feeding a fresh-food diet are things you can do that have no downside and, according to current thinking at least, may well reduce your dog’s risk of suffering from gastric torsion.

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