Care of Your Thai Ridgeback Dog

One of the first known documented stories of the Thai Ridgeback Dog describes the animal as a dog which would fend for itself. The Thai Ridgeback Dog was contstantly in search of food for its survival. Although you may feed your dog on a regular basis, you will find that the TRD's instinct to find food remains strong. So while it may be bothersome when your dog is pawing through garbage, sitting near the kitchen table, or trying to find a snack, keep in mind that they are only following their survival instincts, and be patient while working to gently correct this behavior.

...constant availability of food can lead to an overweight dog...

Some owners allow their dogs to eat all day by leaving food in their bowls at all times. This constant availability of food can lead to an overweight dog. Treats and snacks add up in calories as well. To check your dog’s body condition, do the "rib test." Run your hands on either side of your dog's rib cage. You should be able to feel the outline of the ribs. With an overweight dog, you might not be able to make them out at all. On the other hand, if the ribs are too prominent, your dog is underweight. In either case, visit the vet to rule out any health problems. Dogs may gain or lose weight with illness. You may see other symptoms; for example, dogs suffering from kidney problems will also urinate and drink more and may vomit and be depressed.

Your vet can recommend dietary modifications or special foods for an overweight dog, probably an exercise program as well. It’s vital to get an overweight pup back to a healthy weight since overweight dogs are at risk for diabetes, heart problems, cancer and other serious conditions. Keep track of all the extra bits of food given outside of mealtimes, and be more stingy in giving out treats. Underweight dogs, too, are at a higher risk for many types of illness due to their reduced ability to fight infection. Decreased reserves of fat and energy also lends to poor healing ability. Underweight dogs may need dietary supplements to bring them back into good health.

Your dog requires a minimum daily amount of six essential elements: water, protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins and minerals. Your vet can help you pick out a good commercial dog food, or monitor and assist you in creating a homemade diet. Always read store-bought food labels, and remember the following:

Animal proteins are digested more easily than soy and other vegetable proteins in general.

You do not need to feed a dog as high a volume of food if it is easily digestible. Also, the more digestible a food, the less stool will be produced.

Keep in mind that a sick or stressed dog may need more protein.

An unbalanced diet too rich in carbohydrates and/or fiber can cause constipation, bloating and other digestive problems, as well as excessive elimination. Keep in mind that foods high in vegetable proteins are also high in carbohydrates.

Fats keep skin and coats healthy and provide energy. Even an overweight dog needs a certain amount of fat in his diet.

Food may become rancid that has been sitting on the shelf for too long. Food treated with chemical preservative's such as BHA, BHT and ethoxyquin will last for up to 18 months, whereas vitamin E and other natural preservatives will keep a food's nutrition sound for six to eight months.

A diet lacking in vitamins can lead to problems such as a weakened immune system, a greasy coat, bone disorders, thyroid problems or behavioral changes, to name a few.

Never give your dog mineral supplements unless prescribed by your veterinarian.

Water keeps the bodily processes flowing. Make sure fresh, clean water is always available.

To monitor your dog’s health, do a quick scan during your weekly grooming session. Check the whole body, from nose to tail, and look for signs of illness such as matted fur, swelling or unusual discharge. Nose secretions should be clear, and his pulse — taken by pressing your fingers on the inside of his upper thigh — should fall within the range of 50 to 130 beats per minute, depending on the breed. In addition, check for dehydration by twisting the skin of his shoulder. A healthy dog's skin will snap right back.


Start your dog off early in the tub. Train your dog to allow themselves to be bathed and reward them continuously while washing them, but remember that most dogs will probably be keeping an eye open for a way to escape.

Before you wash your dog, brush your dog thoroughly.

Use vet-prescribed ophthalmic mineral oil or a drop of eye ointment to protect his eyes and cotton balls to gently plug his ears.

Be prepared for the occasional wet shake-off during the bath, and dress accordingly.

In warm weather, outside bathing will keep your bathroom floor from being soaked.

Fill the tub or wash basin with warm water before you corral Spot. The water should reach to just past his hocks. (Or, for outside bathing, you can simply use a hose.)

Using a sponge, foam them up using a dog shampoo that has been approved by your vet. If your dog has a specific problem, such as an extra-oily coat, you may need to use a medicated shampoo, available through your veterinarian.

Work the shampoo into your dog's fur from head to tail, paying special attention to known flea hangout spots, such as the neck and in between the toes. Keep the warm, soapy water away from his mouth.

Rinse your dog off, then shampoo again. Be sure to completely rinse the coat of any residue, and towel dry.

Do not bathe your dog more than once every month or two. Bathing too often can lead to a dry, brittle coat and scaly, flaky skin. If your dog runs into a skunk, there are odor-removal products on the market, available at pet-supply stores, intended to get rid of the eye-tearing, strong odor, but you may still be left with the lingering scent for a few weeks.



The Condition and Its Causes

Simply put, bloat describes a stomach which has become abnormally enlarged or distended.

The stomach is filled with gas, food, liquid, or a combination thereof. Torsion is the abnormal positioning of the stomach which is caused by the stomach's rotation about its axis, i.e. twisting of the stomach.

Bloat usually leads to torsion, although torsion can occur without bloat.

Chronic gastric volvulus (ongoing mild torsion) may not cause typical signs of GDV, but should be suspected in dogs with intermittent vomiting, weight loss, mild bloating, rumbling sounds in the bowel (borborygmi) and/or belching.

Depending on how quickly the problem is dealt with, GDV may result in a stomach that is rotated by anywhere from 90° to 360°.

Severe torsion usually means the displacement of both the stomach and the spleen (they exchange positions).

The speed at which the stomach empties itself, as well as the stomach's digestive contraction pace, are thought to play a role in the development of GDV. Certain food types (such as peas, onions, beans, beet pulp, etc.) are also implicated.

Research analyses of gastric gas from live dogs with GDV suggest that it predominantly results from swallowing air rather than from gastric fermentation (digestive disorder).

Some people suggest a genetic predisposition to bloat, while others refute the suggestion.

None of these theories has been scientifically proven, and all appear to be only partially true.

Based on his extensive clinical experience with GDV cases, Dr. John Lammerding (a Board Certified Veterinary Surgeon) tends to think that GDV in young dogs may suggest a genetic predisposition.

However, he believes that GDV in old dogs are typically caused by excessive hyperventilation (sucking too much air) due to the fact that some old dogs, like old people, develop breathing difficulties due to the aging process.

In the latter case, GDV could theoretically be prevented by keeping the old dog calm and preventing him/her from hyperventilating.

Regardless of the cause of GDV, the end result is a distended and twisted stomach.

GDV results in physiological changes that create a medical and surgical emergency.

GDV most commonly occurs in large, deep-chested breeds, but has also been reported in Bassets, Dachshunds and cats. Reported fatality rates range from 15% to 60%.

There is also a high recurrence rate when surgery (Gastropexy) is not performed to permanently attach the stomach to an anatomically acceptable part of the body, such as a rib.

Bloat surgery is a very painful, major operation, and is potentially life threatening especially in cases involving old dogs.

You should discuss the treatment of bloat and torsion with your veterinarian the next time you see him/her.

Not all veterinarians are familiar with the proper emergency treatment of GDV and fewer yet are familiar with proper surgical technique and post-surgery care and monitoring.

It is imperative that you make sure that your veterinarian is familiarized with the proper procedures before his/her skills are needed.

Ifyour veterinarian is not receptive to or is offended by your queries, then it may perhaps be time for you to find a more responsive veterinarian.



Early signs of bloat may include restlessness, excessive drooling, abdominal pain, retching, and/or non-productive attempts to vomit.

The dog may vomit foamy mucous, or a mucousy foam may be evident around the lips.

A more advanced sign of bloat is characterized by abdominal distension (enlarged abdomen).

Other signs may include pale mucous membrane (evident by pale gum color), and prolonged capillary refill time (detected by pressing the gum with your fingertip and judging the speed at which gum color returns to pink after you stop pressing.)

Some people have reported early detection by observing abnormal behavior, such as not wanting to move around; or laying down in a curled up position, etc. when the dog would normally run around and play.

During this early phase, stomach enlargement may not be visually evident yet.

Bloat can usually be detected when you make the dog stand up and gently feel his/her abdomen.

The abdomen should feel soft and tapered inward when the dog is relaxed.

If the abdomen feels hard, or sounds hollow (like a drum) when you tap it gently with your hand, then your dog is probably bloating or even torsioning.

If you're not sure, get the dog in to the veterinarian (or at least call) right away just in case--it's better to be safe than sorry.


Emergency Treatment of Suspected GDV

The first thing to remember in any emergency situation is to remain calm, your dog's life will depend on your clear thinking and quick actions.
  1. Whenever possible, call the hospital and warn them that you'll be bringing in a bloat case so that they can save precious time by making the necessary preparations while you're on your way.
  2. Be sure to indicate your approximate arrival time because some clinics close at set hours regardless of your situation.
  3. If you're not close to the hospital (or if someone else can drive), and your dog's stomach is distended, you may want to initiate emergency first aid by gently passing a well-lubricated tube to decompress the stomach (see EMERGENCY FIRST AID FOR BLOAT section).If you do not have a tube readily available, some people have reported success with the use of a garden hose (with the ends cut off), lubricated with water. Always pass a tube down slowly and gently--push it down an inch or so at a time, and only after the dog has swallowed, without gagging, the section you have already pushed in. NEVER force a tube down--you can do severe damage to the internal organs! If tube passage is unsuccessful due to internal obstruction, then it means the stomach has probably twisted. Get to the hospital as quickly as possible.
  4. It is important that the veterinarian first treat the dog for shock with intravenous fluid and drug therapy. The veterinarian may also start a continuous electrocardiogram (EKG) to monitor cardiac functions.
  5. Generally, the initial goals of emergency veterinary treatment of GDV are to decompress the stomach and to restore and support the dog's blood circulation. If the stomach is twisted, the veterinarian may have to determine the location of the stomach and cut an opening into the stomach through the side of the body to release the gas.
  6. The second step is to determine (by X-rays either before or after decompression) whether simple dilation (bloat) or GDV (bloat with torsion) has occurred.
  7. This is very important because simple dilation can often be managed without emergency surgery, but if the stomach has twisted, emergency surgery may be required to reposition the stomach.


Physiological Changes Caused by GDV

GDV results in physiological changes that create a medical and surgical emergency.

Changes are both localized (limited to the organs involved, i.e. the stomach and the spleen) and systemic (affecting other vital organs in the body).

Increased pressure inside the stomach causes blood flow there to slow and eventually stop.

Severe torsion can tear the short branches of the artery between the spleen and the stomach, thus increasing the potential for necrosis (death of cells) of the stomach wall.

Displacement of the spleen can cause blood clots in the blood vessels there or even torsion of the spleen.

Obstruction of blood flow from these abdominal organs to the heart causes systemic changes.

The rapid and often massive reduction of blood returning to the heart reduces cardiac output and therefore deprives tissues of sufficient nutrients and oxygen.

Furthermore, the abdominal organs become engorged with blood, which makes the intestines more permeable to the bacteria and bacterial products within them, thus releasing bacteria and their toxic substances (endotoxin) into the bloodstream.

The reduced blood flow to the heart, coupled with the circulation of substances released from the pancreas, spleen and other organs severely impair cardiac functions, and cause cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats).

Blood flow to the kidneys falls which increases the risk of acute kidney damage.

A condition called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (DIC, a life threatening bleeding disorder of the blood clotting mechanism) may occur.

Finally, the stomach and/or intestines may perforate, resulting in the contamination of the abdominal cavity with stomach contents and bacteria.

A combination of septic, endotoxic and hypovolemic (abnormally low blood circulation) shocks; septic peritonitis (acute and painful inflammation of the membranes lining the abdominal and organ walls); and DIC (bleeding disorder) with multiple organ failures;

results in death within hours of the initial signs of bloat.


Surgery for GDV

The immediate aim of surgery is to return the stomach to its normal position and to evaluate it and the spleen for signs of irreversible damage (such as tissue necrosis--cell death).

Long-standing or severe twisting may occasionally cause necrosis in portions of the esophagus (the food canal down the throat)--if so, chances for survival is poor.

If gastric perforation at any site (perforation of the organ wall) has occurred, then the chances for survival is extremely poor, and euthanasia should be seriously contemplated.

Barring any sign of irreversible damage, the veterinarian should perform gastropexy (attaching a flap of stomach wall to an acceptable part of the abdomen in order to help keep the stomach from twisting in the future.)

There are a number of techniques of gastropexy, and debate continues as to which method is more effective.

The fact that there is still heated debate in the techniques indicates that none is currently totally satisfactory.

Again, you may want to discuss it with your veterinarian before there is an emergency. We will briefly describe a few of the more popular techniques :

Tube gastropexy - A large balloon catheter is used to secure the stomach to the right abdominal wall.

The catheter creates strong adhesions (fibrous scar tissues formed by the body that join normally unconnected parts).

The tube must remain in place for 7 to 10 days following surgery.

The presence of the tube allows access to decompress the stomach if bloat recurs during the first 10 days.

It also permits tube feeding if the dog refuses to eat for more than a couple of days after surgery.

Tube gastropexy is the easiest and faster gastropexy technique, and is often used in extremely weak dogs who may not survive an extended period of being anesthetized.

The main argument against this technique is that it may not help keep the stomach in place as well as some other gastropexy techniques.

The most common complications of tube gastropexy are premature tube loosening and inflammation of the skin where the tube exits the abdomen.

Skin inflammation is usually caused by leakage of gastric contents around the tube.

Occasionally, the balloon of the catheter becomes eroded by the acidic gastric fluid, causing the tube to dislodge early.

This usually happens after 5 to 7 days as the dog becomes more active. Typically, no further treatment is required.

However, if the tube dislodges during the first 48 hours, it may be necessary to replace the tube to prevent the risk of contamination of the abdomen with gastric juice.

Belt-loop gastropexy - A flap of the stomach wall is used to attach the stomach to the right abdominal wall by braiding the stomach flap to strands of the abdominal wall.

This technique takes longer than the tube technique, but may create a stronger bond.

However, argument against it is similar to that of the tube's--it may not help keep the stomach in place as well as some other gastropexy techniques.

Circumcostal gastropexy - A flap of the stomach wall is used to attach the stomach to the last rib on the right side.

The argument in favor of this technique is that the rib is a more rigid and stable part of the anatomy, and will likely keep the stomach in place better than the abdominal wall will.

There is a 5% chance of recurrence following gastropexy. Most of the recurrences are simple dilation (bloat without torsion), and respond well to decompression (passing of stomach tube).

However, a full blown recurrence of GDV may cause or follow the breakdown of the gastropexy.

Therefore, medical and dietary management after GDV is important to help prevent recurrence.

In addition to gastropexy, some veterinarians perform pyloroplasty to help prevent recurrence of GDV.

Pyloroplasty is an operation in which the pylorus (the outlet from the stomach) is widened to ensure the free passage of food into the intestine.

In clinical studies, researchers reported a much higher number of complications, during the first week after surgery, in dogs that underwent this procedure as compared to dogs that underwent gastropexy alone.


Post-Surgery Care and Common Complications

Some dogs may continue to have poor circulation and therefore shock despite receiving large amounts of intra-venous fluids.

Some dogs may become anemic or hypoproteinemic (abnormally low protein in the blood), and may require blood transfusion or plasma administration.

These dogs should be reevaluated frequently by the veterinarian. Cardiac arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) is common following an acute episode of GDV.

The veterinarian should perform frequent EKGs to monitor the heartbeat during the first week.

In fact, continuous EKG monitoring for 48 to 72 hours is required in acute cases.

Anti-arrhythmic drugs may be necessary to treat this condition.

Gastric necrosis (cell death) and perforation can occur up to a week after surgery, especially if resection (surgical removal of part or all of a diseased organ) was performed.

The veterinarian must monitor the stomach fluids closely both during surgery and during the first 5 days after surgery :

  1. A pale green to gray fluid indicates arterial (blood vessel) damage caused by ischemic (insufficient blood supply to an organ) or necrotic (dead cells) regions which will require resectioning (surgical removal of part of the organ).
  2. A black or blue/black fluid suggest venous occlusion (blockage in the veins that carry blood back to the heart) and intramural hemorrhage (internal bleeding within the organ). Some of these lesions are not reversible.
  3. Areas with compromised blood supply but do not require resection are dark red.
  4. Researchers also recommend that color be reevaluated 10 to 15 minutes after repositioning and decompression of the stomach, before completing the surgery.

If gastric necrosis and perforation occurs, euthanasia should be seriously considered.

Food and water is typically withheld for the first 48 to 72 hours after gastropexy (bloat surgery), then multiple small meals are fed.

Once the dog returns home, he/she should be fed smaller-than-usual portions of bland food frequently (3 times daily), and should not be exercised within 2 hours after meals.

Veterinary attention should be sought immediately if there are signs of recurrence.



There are no sure-fire ways to prevent or predict GDV.

Here is a list of suggestions :

Feed 2 or 3 smaller meals daily (as opposed to 1 large meal).

Any changes in the diet should be made gradually, over a period of a week.

Vigorous exercise, excitement and stress should be avoided from 1 hour before to 2 hours after meals.

Excessive drinking should also be avoided. Avoid feeding food that are known to cause flatulence (gas), e.g. soy, beans, peas, onions, beet pulp, etc.

Some veterinarians advocate the feeding of large pieces of fresh/raw fruits and vegetables (e.g. apples, oranges, carrots) 3 to 4 times a week.

The reason is that commercial dog food lacks the appropriate amount of roughage that a dog needs in order for the stomach to function properly.

Some people give their dogs over-the-counter anti-flatulent (Simethecone products, such as Gas X®), just before or after they put their dogs through stressful situations.

It may also be handy when the dog appears to have a lot of gas.

Simethecone works by breaking down the surface tensions of the small air bubbles in the stomach, thus causing bigger bubbles to form, which theoretically, are easier for the stomach to pass.

On dogs known to be highly susceptible to GDV (e.g. ones that have already bloated before) discuss the use of medicinal prevention (such as Metoclopramide Hydrochloride, or Reglan®) with your veterinarian.

The medicine is widely used in human after abdominal surgery to combat painful intestinal flatulence.

It chemically decompresses the stomach and intestines, thus forcing the gas out. Like all drugs, there are side effects, so the benefits and problems of long term use should be carefully weighed and discussed with your veterinarian.

(4) Canine Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat) 

School of Veterinary Medicine 

Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1243

Non-dietary risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus in large and giant breed dogs

Lawrence T. Glickman, VMD, DrPH; Nita W. Glickman, MS, MPH; Diana B. Schellenberg, MS; 
Malathi Raghavan, DVM, MS; Tana Lee, BA

Summary of findings (references 1 & 2) -A 5-year prospective study was conducted to determine the incidence and non-dietary risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) in 11 large- and giant-breed dogs and to assess current recommendations to prevent GDV.

Table 1 summarizes the magnitude and direction of GDV risk associated with having each of these factors. The relative risk (RR) indicates the likelihood of developing the disease in the exposed group (risk factor present) relative to those who are not exposed (risk factor absent).

For example, a dog with a first degree relative with a history of GDV is 1.63 times (63%) more likely to develop GDV than a dog without a history of GDV. As another example, if dog ‘A’ is a year older than dog ‘B’, then dog ‘A’ is 1.20 times (20%) more likely to develop GDV than dog ‘B’. 

Risk Factor Relative Risk Interpretation
Age in years 1.20 20% increase in risk for each year increase in age
Chest depth/width ratio
(1.0 to 2.4)
2.70 170% increase in risk for each unit increase in chest depth/width ratio
First degree relative with GDV (yes vs. no) 1.63 63% increase in risk associated with having a first degree relative with GDV
Using a raised feed bowl
(yes vs. no)
2.10 110% increase in risk associated with using a raised food bowl
Speed of eating (1-10 scale)
[for Large dogs only]
1.15 15% increase in risk for each unit increase in speed of eating score for large dogs

Most of the popular methods currently recommended to prevent GDV did not appear to be effective, and one of these, raising the feed bowl, may actually be detrimental in the breeds studied.

In order to decrease the incidence of GDV, we suggest that dogs having a first degree relative with a history of GDV should not be bred.Prophylactic gastropexy appears indicated for breeds at the highest risk of GDV, such as the Great Dane. 


1. Lawrence T. Glickman, VMD, DrPH; Nita W. Glickman, MS, MPH; Diana B. Schellenberg, MS; Malathi Raghavan, DVM, MS; Tana Lee, BA. Incidence of and breed-related risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus in dogs.Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2000;216(1):40-45. 

2. Lawrence T. Glickman, VMD, DrPH; Nita W. Glickman, MS, MPH; Diana B. Schellenberg, MS; Malathi Raghavan, DVM, MS; Tana Lee, BA. Non-dietary risk factors for gastric dilatation-volvulus in large and giant breed dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2000;217(10):1492-1499. 



Thai Ridgeback Puppies