Bloat in Dogs
Symptoms Causes Prevention Breeds at Risk Links Dogsitter Information
Please visit our new sister site, EPI in Dogs. Knowing the symptoms could save your dog's life. If your dog has loose stools that just won't get better, it could be EPI.
Bloat is a very serious health risk for many dogs, yet many dog owners know very little about it. According to the links below, it is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer.
It is frequently reported that deep-chested dogs, such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, and Dobermans are particularly at risk.
This page provides links to information on bloat and summarizes some of the key points we found in the sites we researched. Although we have summarized information we found about possible symptoms, causes, methods of prevention, and breeds at risk, we cannot attest to the accuracy.
Please consult with your veterinarian for medical information.
If you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, please get your dog to a veterinarian immediately! Bloat can kill in less than an hour, so time is of the essence. Call your vet to alert them you're on your way with a suspected bloat case. Better to be safe than sorry!
The technical name for bloat is "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" ("GDV"). Bloating of the stomach is often related to swallowed air (although food and fluid can also be present). It usually happens when there's an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid, and/or foam in the stomach ("gastric dilatation"). Stress can be a significant contributing factor also.
Bloat can occur with or without "volvulus" (twisting). As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90 degrees to 360 degrees, twisting between its fixed attachments at the esophagus (food tube) and at the duodenum (the upper intestine). The twisting stomach traps air, food, and water in the stomach. The bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog.
Be prepared! Know in advance what you would do if your dog bloated.
|If your regular vet doesn't have 24-hour emergency service, know which nearby vet you would use. Keep the phone number handy.|
|Always keep a product with simethicone on hand (e.g., Gas-X, Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), etc.) in case your dog has gas. If you can reduce or slow the gas, you've probably bought yourself a little more time to get to a vet if your dog is bloating.|
This information is not intended to replace advice or guidance from veterinarians or other pet care professionals. It is simply being shared as an aid to assist you with your own research on this very serious problem.
Typical symptoms often include some (but not necessarily all) of the following, according to the links below. Unfortunately, from the onset of the first symptoms you have very little time (sometimes minutes, sometimes hours) to get immediate medical attention for your dog. Know your dog and know when it's not acting right.
|Attempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur every 5-30 minutes
|Doesn't act like usual self
|Significant anxiety and restlessness
One of the earliest warning signs and seems fairly typical
|"Hunched up" or "roached up" appearance
This seems to occur fairly frequently
|Lack of normal gurgling and digestive sounds in the tummy
|Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum)
Despite the term "bloat," many times this symptom never occurs or is not apparent
|Pale or off-color gums
Dark red in early stages; white or blue in later stages
|Heavy salivating or drooling|
|Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous|
|Unproductive attempts to defecate|
|Licking the air|
|Seeking a hiding place|
|Looking at their side or other evidence of abdominal pain or discomfort|
|May refuse to lie down or even sit down|
|May stand spread-legged|
|May curl up in a ball or go into a praying or crouched position|
|May attempt to eat small stones and twigs|
|Heavy or rapid panting|
|Cold mouth membranes|
|Apparent weakness; unable to stand or has a spread-legged stance
Especially in advanced stage
Heart rate increases as bloating progresses
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According to the links below, it is thought that the following may be the primary contributors to bloat. To calculate a dog's lifetime risk of bloat according to Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine, click here.
|Eating habits, especially...
|Exercise before and especially after eating|
|Build & Physical Characteristics
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Some of the advice in the links below for reducing the chances of bloat are:
|Avoid highly stressful situations. If you can't avoid them, try to minimize the stress as much as possible. Be extra watchful.
Can be brought on by visits to the vet, dog shows, mating, whelping, boarding, new dog in household, change in routine, etc.
|Don't use an elevated food bowl|
|Don't exercise for at least an hour (longer if possible) before and especially after eating
Particularly avoid vigorous exercise and don't permit your dog to roll over, which could cause the stomach to twist
|Don't permit rapid eating|
|Don't permit excessive, rapid drinking
Especially a consideration on hot days
|Feed 2 or 3 meals daily, instead of just one|
|Don't give water one hour before or after a meal
It dilutes the gastric juices necessary for proper digestion, which leads to gas production.
|Important! Always keep a product with simethicone (e.g., Gas-X, Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), Phazyme, etc.) on hand to treat gas symptoms.
Some recommend giving your dog simethicone immediately if your dog burps more than once or shows other signs of gas.
Some report relief of gas symptoms with 1/2 tsp of nutmeg or the homeopathic remedy Nux moschata 30
|Allow access to fresh water at all times, except before and after meals|
|Make meals a peaceful, stress-free time|
|When switching dog food, do so gradually (allow several weeks)|
|Feed a high-protein (>30%) diet, particularly of raw meat|
|Don't feed dry foods exclusively
Whole, unprocessed foods are especially beneficial
|Avoid dry foods that contain...
|If feeding dry food, select foods that contain...
|Reduce carbohydrates as much as possible (e.g., typical in many commercial dog biscuits)|
|Avoid brewer's yeast, alfalfa, and soybean products|
|Promote an acidic environment in the intestine
Some recommend 1-2 Tbs of Aloe Vera Gel or 1 Tbs of apple cider vinegar given right after each meal
|Promote "friendly" bacteria in the intestine, e.g. from "probiotics" such as supplemental acidophilus
Avoids fermentation of carbohydrates, which can cause gas quickly.
This is especially a concern when antibiotics are given since antibiotics tend to reduce levels of "friendly" bacteria. [Note: Probiotics should be given at least 2-4 hours apart from antibiotics so they won't be destroyed.]
|Consider adding an enzyme product to food to aid digestion (e.g., Prozyme)|
And perhaps most importantly, know your dog well so you'll know when your dog just isn't acting normally.
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Breeds most at risk according to the links below:
|Bernese Mountain Dog|
|Bouvier des Flandres|
|Chesapeake Bay Retriever|
|English Springer Spaniel|
|German Shorthaired Pointer|
|Old English Sheepdog|
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|Canine Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat)
Research from Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine
|Bloat: The Mother of All Emergencies
Interesting statistics and clear medical explanations.
|Great Dane Links Directory - Bloat
First-Hand Experiences, Articles, and Links
|On My Soapbox
A commentary on the Purdue studies
|Bloat and Torsion: Is Nutrition a Factor?
Explores nutritional factors
|Bloat and Allergies:The Relationship to Yeast Overgrowth and/or Pathogenic Bacteria
Explores possible relationships to yeast overgrowth and pathogenic bacteria
|Understanding Bloat and Torsion
Lots of good information and advice
|Bloat First-Aid Kit
May help those who are unable to get to a veterinarian
|How to Tube Your Dog
Same comment as above
|Signs of Bloat
Many first-hand descriptions by dog owners of the symptoms they observed
|Overview of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV or Bloat) in Dogs
Provides an overview of GDV. Includes a video.
|Risk Factors and Prevention of Bloat in Dogs
Describes bloat risks, treatment and prevention.
|Bloat (Gastric Dilatation & Volvulus)|
|Bloat - - A Medical Emergency|
|Bloat During Recovery from Anaesthesia|
|Gastric Torsion - - Bloat in Dogs|
|GDV (a veterinary surgeon's perspective)|
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Information written by GlobalSpan.net using the references above. Although we have summarized information we found from the links, we cannot attest to the accuracy. Please consult with your veterinarian for medical information.
We have a deep-chested dog who has never experienced bloat. We hope he never will. Please share this link with any who might benefit.
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