- Excessive drooling/saliva
The excessive drooling is thought to be in response to the dog feeling nauseous and painful.
- Unproductive vomiting/retching
The dog feels like he needs to vomit, but cannot as the stomach is dilated and twisted. Therefore, he might do some unproductive retches, in an attempt to relieve some of the pressure inside his stomach. Often watery liquid or thick, frothy saliva is produced.
This may be the first sign the owner notices, but it may not be very obvious in some breeds of dogs. This classic sign might be difficult to see if the dog is overweight or has a long coat. Often the whole abdomen will be hard and distended. Sometimes there is a large bulge just behind the rib cage. The dog may be very painful and wince if pressed on their abdomen.
In the initial stage of bloat, the heart rate increases, as the dog is in pain and distress. The bloated stomach pushes on some major blood vessels, preventing blood from returning to the heart. Therefore, the heart rate also increases when the dog is in shock, in an attempt to pump more blood and oxygen around the body. In the later stages of shock, the heart rate decreases lower than the normal heart rate- which is a very bad sign that the dog’s body is really struggling.
The colour of a dog’s gums can give an indication of how well the body’s circulation (heart and blood vessels of the body) is functioning. Normally, most dogs have pink coloured gums. It is important to know the normal colour of your dog’s gums, so it is a good idea to check them regularly. Shock can cause the gums to go a white/pale pink colour, or even sometimes a much darker purple colour when the heart is struggling to pump blood around the body.
Unfortunately, collapse often happens late in the signs of bloat or GDV. It often means the dog is really struggling, and the condition is extremely serious. Collapse is not just a symptom of bloat; many other serious conditions can cause your dog to collapse too. However, it does indicate that your dog needs to veterinary attention immediately, whatever the underlying cause is.
Some dogs that have bloat may show all of these symptoms, others may show just a few. As a dog owner, it is important that you can recognise the signs of bloat.