Doggone Bloat

By Gretchen Stohl, February 2012, Updated February 2015

Fortunately for me, I caught my Weimaraner, Eva, in the act of bloating, and it only took 10 minutes to get her to the emergency veterinary clinic. I had just returned home from work one night when it began. It was an ordinary day, so my panic came quickly when she crawled around the house trying to vomit, without success, and her torso began expanding. She puffed up like a blowfish. Her abdomen was rock hard. This was the emergency I heard about numerous times from breeders and one I dreaded ever happening to my dog. Bloat can kill a dog within hours of onset, even within minutes.


I started yelling, “Eva is bloating. Oh my God, it’s happening. I’ve heard horror stories about this. We have to go NOW!” I was so scared and nervous, too shaky to drive. I did not know where to go. Thankfully, my fiancé, Al, remembered spotting a new emergency clinic for animals near the house. I fumbled for their phone number and called. I said I would bring my dog in because she appeared to be bloating. I put Eva in the van. Al drove. It was a short ride, but felt like forever.



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The woman behind the desk at the clinic took some information from me. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events. But by the time the veterinarian X-rayed Eva positively for bloat with torsion, the woman kindly informed me that she needed $1,000 up front if I wanted to go ahead with the recommended surgery. After that, I could expect to spend a total of $5,000 for Eva’s care. I signed up. Weimaraners can expect to live in good health until they reach age 13 or 14. Eva was four.


Surgery can save a dog in bloat distress. The stomach twists like a wringed rag and will cause loss of circulation and tissue damage. The stomach cannot return to its normal shape after torsion. As I said, I had heard of this happening to other people’s dogs. I know now that Weimaraners share the top five breeds prone to bloat with Great Danes, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters and St. Bernards. A more complete list for other breeds prone to bloat gets much longer. Google it! Google bloat. It is imperative that your dog receives veterinary care as soon as possible. You may miss the opportunity to save your dog from bloat. However, some folks choose to put down a dog in lieu of the great cost of surgery and aftercare from bloat with torsion.


I might have put Eva down had she been an older dog. How old is older? I guess in my case, I would say 10, or 11, but that’s just me. Also, had Eva been home alone and bloated hours before my return from work, the progression of damage may have resulted in a near-death condition. In that case, I would show mercy and let her go. Consultation with the veterinarian assured me that Eva was a great candidate for surgery and survival because we brought her in so soon after her symptoms started.


The Clinic staff urged Al and me to return home after the veterinarian staff began prepping Eva for surgery. It was about 7:00 pm when we left. I sat up alone and waited for the first report. I didn’t know what to expect. Oh, the waiting, wondering! The veterinarian finally called me at home at 11:15 pm. He said that he waited until Eva woke up from anesthesia after surgery. Everything went as well as anyone could expect. The tissues that could have been damaged were pink and healthy when he opened her up. The veterinarian also said that he untwisted the torsion in the stomach and tacked up the stomach lining to the outer body cavity. In doing so, torsion a second time was impossible. She could bloat again. In that case, a vet would need to insert a gastric tube to relieve the gas.


 On a Wednesday evening, Eva’s surgery took place at the emergency clinic. Thursday morning, the small clinic bused Eva to their hospital downtown for constant aftercare to stabilize her until we could pick her up Friday night. I called the hospital repeatedly. All of the staff members and veterinarians acted in kindness. They always answered my questions even if it seemed routine for them. I developed an astute memory for all that I was learning in such a short time. I began to relate in terms as scientifically and accurately as possible. The total bill came to $4,000 and some change, less than the $5,000 maximum the clinic quoted me.


Eva never slept at the hospital. She was like a zombie when we picked her up but gradually calmed down. She had to adjust from intravenous morphine to pills for pain. I gladly took over as her nurse, carefully administering her medications and small amounts of soft food until she could stomach her regular diet. When Eva’s stitches came out 15 days after surgery, I bought her a celebratory soft-serve ice cream cone that she shared with me. I love to see dogs smile!