Bloat in Great Danes is a terrifying and deadly medical emergency.
If you have a large or giant-breed dog, it is extremely important that you understand what bloat is and how to spot it before it becomes worse.
Signs of bloat include: unsuccessful attempts to vomit, gagging, excess drooling, distress, distended abdomen and collapse.
It is often said that to prevent bloat, you must require your dog to rest before and especially after meals. However, there is more to this story.
Read on for more information on if resting after meals can prevent bloat.
DOES RESTING AFTER MEALS PREVENT BLOAT?
Here is where things get tricky.
There is actually NO scientific proof that resting does anything to prevent bloat.
As a matter of fact, that entire concept relies on assumptions…not science.
One study by Tufts University actually found that there was no correlation at all between exercise and bloat.
(Read that study here: https://www.vin.com/apputil/content/defaultadv1.aspx?pId=11165&meta=Generic&id=3848657)
Dogs may be just as likely to bloat when they are resting as when they are running!
It is often reported that many dogs bloat in the middle of the night and on an empty stomach. As a matter of fact, this was true for most of the dogs that participated in the Tufts University study. They weren’t exercising when bloat happened; they were resting.
That fact should put a lot of doubt into the validity of ‘resting’ as a legitimate ‘preventative’. Just because as a theory it ‘makes sense’, doesn’t mean it’s going to prevent bloat. At all.
Think about this.
If resting after meals actually worked as a reliable preventative, the rate of bloat incidence would be going DOWN in Great Danes, not up.
In the last 30 years, bloat incidence has increased by 1500%.
YIKES..and no, I did not accidentally add a zero. You read 1500% correctly.
HOW TO PREVENT BLOAT
Great Dane owners really hate this discussion. Making dogs rest after meals feels like the right thing to do, and perhaps it is a totally fine thing to do (why take the risk, after all?).
Where it becomes problematic is in the anxiety that it causes Great Dane owners.
Because this is so widely promoted as a ‘preventative’, people get nervous when their dog has a meal. To temper this anxiety, they may strictly limit food intake to once per day.
Tufts University Study: single large meals each day increase the risk of bloat.
Science shows as that smaller, more frequent meals are better for Great Danes.
However, if an owner offers 2-3 meals per day and requires rest for an hour before and after each, the dog may be given fewer opportunities for meaningful enrichment and exercise.
Oh, and they may still bloat anyways.
THE AWFUL TRUTH ABOUT BLOAT IN GREAT DANES
Time and time again we see Great Dane owners lose their dogs to bloat. They say “I did everything right, how did this happen?”, or “my dog was resting, I don’t understand”.
Honestly, that’s the worst part.
This is not to make Great Dane owners feel helpless! It’s meant to shed some light on a real problem that we have in this community where assumptions are being heavily promoted as preventatives.
FACT: They still don’t actually know what triggers bloat. Science so far can only show us what leads to higher and lower risk factors.
The side effect of this is 1000’s of heartbroken Great Dane owners who feel that they did something wrong, when they likely didn’t do anything wrong at all.
SHOULD YOU REST A GREAT DANE TO PREVENT BLOAT?
It’s honestly up to you. As above, there is nothing inherently wrong with it so long as you don’t take it too far.
Great Danes benefit from daily enrichment, exercise and training. Too much ‘rest’ or crate time isn’t necessarily the answer; we believe that there are other more impactful ways to minimize bloat risk. You can click on the links below to learn more about bloat.
Want to read about some common bloat myths? Click here!
Need more information on bloat? Click here!
Want to read the Tufts study that we reference often? Go HERE.
SCIENCE-BACKED WAYS TO MINIMIZE BLOAT RISK
- Avoid foods with fat in the first four ingredients.
- Use puzzle feeders to encourage slow eating.
- If choosing elevated feeders, keep them on the lower side of things.
- Add fresh food toppers and fiber to the diet. We like balanced raw food, Dr. Harvey’s and Olewo Carrots. Make sure the diet is balanced as a whole!
- Do not encourage resource guarding by hovering, messing with food or taking food away. Prevent resource guarding by not making it a problem in the first place.
- Feed multiple smaller meals, not one large meal.
- Use modern positive reinforcement and humane, thoughtful balanced training methods, not aversive training (alpha rolls, hitting, intimidation, etc.) or alpha/dominance (debunked) that have been proven to lead to increased stress, aggression, fear and frustration.
- Address anxiety, stress and aggression with a highly qualified humane trainer.
- Address gut health issues by seeking veterinary care, adding probiotics and finding a diet that is appropriate for your dog.
- Choose ethical breeders that are 1000% dedicated to the pedigree, health, structure & temperament, and prove it with papers, titles, activities and practices. Be part of the movement that no longer supports puppy mills, backyard breeders or ‘friendly backyard breeder’ unethical breeding practices.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. We do our best to present the most up-to-date research, however it is up to the reader to make decisions regarding the health and well-being of their dog. We make no claims here to prevent or treat bloat or any other condition related to Great Danes. Find a veterinarian with GIANT breed experience, and chat with them.
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