The reason for the picture to accompany this post is because if your dog has bloat, you need to hot tail it to the nearest vet straight away. It’s a life threatening emergency and there’s no time to waste.
Bloat, or gastric dilatation (we say dilation here in Aus <G>) occurs when your dog’s stomach is rapidly distended by an accumulation of gas, fluid or food, or some combination of them. This results in compression of the large blood vessels in the abdomen and interferes with the circulation of blood back to the heart, resulting in shock and often death. The huge distended stomach can twist, which makes things catastrophically worse.
Treatment involves decompressing the stomach, supporting the circulation with fluids and if your dog’s stomach has twisted, surgery to get it back into the right position and anchor it there.
To prevent bloat, feed several small meals a day and avoid excitement at meal times. If you have an at-risk breed (large, deep chested), think about having your dog’s stomach surgically anchored before anything happens. This doesn’t prevent bloat but it does prevent the twisting. There may be a genetic component so it is recommended that you don’t breed a dog with a close relative that has a history of bloat.
What about exercise soon after mealtimes or a big drink of water? Anecdotally, this isn’t a good idea but there is little research to show whether or not this actually makes any difference. Other risk factors appear to be much more significant. Also, gastric emptying times in dogs vary depending on what they have eaten. Liquids move pretty quickly but solid food can take several hours to make their way into the intestines.
So, do you really need to wait for a while after meals before you go running? In spite of the research, or lack thereof, I’d suggest yes. I think it’s not worth taking a chance on bouncing a full stomach up and down. I don’t like running when I’m full, so it’s possible it’s just as uncomfortable for your dog.
If you’re planning on taking your dog for a run, do it before you feed him, or an hour or so afterwards. Also, I tend to stop Guinness from gorging himself on water after a run – I let him drink a little, he takes a break, then drinks a little more, and so on. I find this also stops him throwing up a belly-full of water if he overdoes it.