One of the biggest concerns and worries I had when I brought Kumason my American Akita home at 12 weeks old was how to prevent bloat and torsion. Bloat can occur in large dogs with deep narrow chests. Bloat is when your dog's stomach fills up with air or food. The stomach becomes really swollen and torsion is followed which is a condition in which the stomach turns around on itself or rotates causing all circulation to be lost to the stomach and other vital organs. This is a true medical emergency which requires immediate medical attention. If you search the internet, you will find many articles with different theories as to how to prevent bloat as well as the symptoms of bloat.
My breeder mentioned a surgical procedure called a gastropexy which can prevent torsion from happening. With this procedure, the stomach is tacked down to the abdominal wall so that it cannot rotate. This can be done laparoscopically. There are several different ways the doctor can do the procedure. When I brought Kumason to be neutered at 2 years, 3 months old, I decided that he would have the gastropexy at the same time as I did not want him to go under anesthesia twice. I opted to have the procedures done in a 24 hour hospital as opposed to my veterinarian's office because I knew he would stay overnight and I felt more reassured knowing that he would be monitored throughout the night. In fact, I even received a text message from the staff with a photo of him saying goodnight. Everything went well, except for the fact he had to wear the “cone of shame” for 3 weeks. I think it was actually worse for me than it was for him as he got used to his cone very quickly. In fact, he loved it when I tossed snowballs into it. He's getting ready for another snowball toss in this photo:
I am really careful at feeding time with Kumason. He gets fed two meals a day. If we are out walking for a while or if he is running in the yard, I always make sure he is well rested for about 30 minutes before I feed him. After he eats, I try and have him remain calm and do not allow him to run or jump for two hours. He pretty much does this on his own anyway as he is a lounge lizard in disguise and just likes to rest. While this may be a bit extreme, I love him to death and will try and do anything I can to prevent bloat. I've read that there could be some hereditary factors involved too so it may not be a bad idea if you find out if any relatives of your dog every had bloat. Now that he has had a gastropexy, I now feel better knowing that his stomach can't rotate should he get bloat. Below are some photos of him before I took him home from hospital.