While you might think that bloat occurs only in larger dogs, your little doxie could be vulnerable. Bloat, or gastric torsion, is always a veterinary emergency. It can happen to any dog, but canines with large, deep chests -- like dachshunds -- are at greater risk.
Gastric torsion results when gasses trapped in your doxie's stomach expand, causing stomach distension. It can progress quickly into gastric volvulus, a situation where the dog's stomach actually turns. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, "The stomach rotates 90 to 360 degrees in a clockwise fashion about the distal esophagus." Once the stomach twists, the blood supply to other organs is cut off.
Bloat comes on very suddenly. Your doxie can seem fine one minute, but within an hour he's at death's door. Symptoms include anxiety, restlessness and trying to throw up with no results. Your dog's obviously in pain and distress. His stomach appears bloated, he drools excessively, has trouble breathing, goes into shock and might collapse. In order to save his life, you must get him to an emergency veterinary hospital at once.
When you arrive at the hospital, your vet will assess your doxie's condition. She'll order an X-ray to see the condition of his stomach. If the stomach hasn't twisted, she'll insert a tube down his throat to take out air and relieve pressure. Even if there is a twist, she might first relieve pressure via insertion of a large needle through his skin into his abdomen. If the stomach has turned, surgery is the only option. Your vet puts the stomach back into place, along with removal of dead tissue.
Because dogs that bloat once have a strong chance of doing it again, your vet will perform a surgery called "stomach tacking," which prevents the stomach from twisting in the future.
Although the exact cause of bloat is still unknown, certain changes in feeding might help prevent the nightmare that is bloat from happening to your doxie. Rather than feeding him once a day, break the amount up into three or more smaller daily meals. Feed him canned food rather than dry. Wait a couple of hours before feeding him after vigorous exercise, and don't take him out for heavy exercise until at least an hour after a meal. After heavy exercise, don't let him drink a great deal of water all at once. Because personality might factor into bloat risk, be especially careful if your doxie has a tense, nervous personality.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.