As some may remember last year my Bentley went through bloat and I write this today even though bloat can happen at any time, because with the fast approaching warmer weather comes the threat of thunderstorms and with thunderstorms for some dogs comes the threat of anxiety or panic. If the dog hides in the closet or the tub and doesn't move much during a storm, chances are bloat will not be an issue. However if your large breed dog is like Bentley who will run the yard wildly, constantly bark and move about getting overheated from the anxiety, then start drinking water quickly to compensate for the overheating , there is the threat that the dog will take extra air , fluid, or foam into the stomach which cannot be expelled properly. Bloat , a twisting of the intestines , restricts any emptying of the belly which means the dog cannot vomit, or burp to relieve the gas buildup. You will see the stomach start to swell and feel hard, the dog will be dry heaving (classic sign), the dog may not respond to you when you call the name, excessive drooling, breathing problems ,restlessness , pacing, and discomfort will occur. All of the above signs together need immediate care so call the vet on your way there and tell them you think your dog is bloating so they can be prepared for your arrival. Bloat can take your dog's life in a matter of hours.
Bentley was indeed lucky to have come out unscathed as luck was on his side. Initially I was due to leave for a meeting when this happened and because I was knowledgeable enough to know what symptoms to look for and recognized them as soon as they started his life was spared. Had I not been home he probably would not have made it through.
Factors of bloat
1)The age of the dog can play a part in bloat, normally dogs that are five years or older,
2) hereditary factors are also concern,
3) feed smaller meals twice a day instead of one big meal a day.
4) It used to be thought that elevating the food dishes would help prevent bloat but this has recently been disproved by the Cornell study.
5)Do not exercise the dog 1/2 to 1 hour before or after feeding
and do not allow large intakes of water before and after a meal.
6)There are dog bowls that have cylinders in them to prevent a dog from eating too fast which is another cause of bloat so if your guy is a fast eater you may want to invest in one. Until you can get one, placing an unopened can of vegetables in the middle of the dog's dish can also slow down eating. dog bowls: http://www.brake-fast.net/
There is a way to make a bloat first aid kit , although you must be confident enough to be able to use it. http://www.kifka.com/Elektrik/BloatFirstAid.htm#kit
Here are great sites (video) on recognizing the signs