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Thursday, May 13, 2010

ASK THE DOG TRAINER: Coping with the Risk of Bloat

by Judith Joseph, all rights reserved 

(c) photo copyright Carrie Boyko, 2010, all rights reserved
Oliver Greets a New Setter Friend

Dear Judy:

My Setter named Lucy has a habit that concerns me for her health. I know that bloat is a problem for bigger dogs and I am careful about vigorous exercise before and after feeding. Here is the problem. She gets very excited after eating and seems to "celebrate". She runs around and acts all silly.

I have tried to contain her to a smaller room, but this seems to ramp up her energy. She runs circles in the kitchen or bedroom and rolls around alot. Should I put her in her crate? It almost seems like a punishment to put her there when she is happy. I don't want her to begin to hate her crate. Thanks for any help you can offer.

Dear Kayla:

We will never truly understand why dogs do what they do as individuals, but we can be certain that dogs will do lots of things that are potentially hazardous to their health.   dog running in circles after eating may be celebrating, but could be at risk of bloat. Sometimes called 'twisted stomach' or 'stomach torsion', bloat is a life or death emergency that requires immediate attention. It is most common in large, barrel-chested dogs, but can occur in any dog that is highly active before or after a meal. This is why pre- and post-mealtime hours should involve quieter activities or rest time.

There are many possibilities as to the cause of Lucy's excited behavior, and as many variables.  First, is Lucy getting all of the exercise that a large breed dog requires?  Is she confined, or alone most of the day with you returning just before meal time?  Is this her first opportunity of the day to release any pent up energy?  If that is the case she should be walked for at least 30 to 45 minutes every day, preferably an hour or so before her evening meal.  This will help her burn off a lot of energy before meal time. (Always wait at least 30 minutes before feeding after a vigorous walk or exercise.)

If she is accustomed to being crated, I suggest feeding her in her crate and leaving her in for 10 minutes after she’s completed her meal.  If you are giving her one meal per day, try dividing her daily ration into two meals.  

When you release her, or after she has completed her meal, immediately place her on her leash, or attach her to you with a training lead to prevent any running about.  Have her sit beside you or take her for a walk around the house for several minutes.  You won’t be interfering with her happiness.  She’ll be happy being with you as you go about reconditioning her behavior.

This is not something that will be corrected in a few days.   Make sure to provide proper daily exercise, be consistent with the training, and in a few weeks she should be over her bursts.

Good luck, Judy
Judith Joseph, D.O.I.

For more information on Judith Joseph and her training, you may find her at TCDOA Dog Training. A personal appointment will likely provide more specific information on your dog's issues and your questions.

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