Bloat in Dogs

Bloat in Dogs

by Scritch

Bloat, also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), is a serious condition that can affect any large breed dog. GDV can also happen in smaller breeds with deep chests, like Dachshunds and Pekingese, but it is very rare.

This condition can occur suddenly and unexpectedly: one moment your dog is happy and healthy, and the next he’s in severe pain and gasping for breath. Because it is a life-threatening condition, bloat requires immediate veterinary attention.

What is bloat?

Bloat begins when, for unknown reasons, a dog’s stomach twists on itself (volvulus) and expands, filling with fluids and gas (dilatation). This causes compression of blood vessels, which restricts blood flow to vital organs such as the heart and stomach. Bloat is the second leading cause of death in dogs behind cancer, according to 1-800 Pet Meds.

Deep-chested, large dog breeds face the highest risk of bloat, especially if they have a relative that has experienced this condition. Such breeds include but are not limited to the Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, Rottweiler, Golden Retriever, and Saint Bernard. No dog breed is immune to this condition.

Signs and symptoms of bloat

There are several symptoms that could indicate your dog is suffering from bloat. These include:

  • Swollen, “tight” abdomen
  • Sudden unexplainable pain when stomach is pressed
  • Retching but unable to actually vomit
  • Excess salivation
  • Excess panting or difficulty breathing
  • Suffering from fatigue but unable to sleep
  • Collapse

This situation should be treated as a medical emergency, and you must get your dog treatment as quickly as possible. Without treatment, this condition can turn fatal. Progression can be fast, and a dog can die only a few hours after the first symptoms appear.

Treating bloat

This condition will not go away without veterinary intervention and there are no home remedies. Take your dog to the vet or emergency vet ASAP and call them on the way there so they can get ready to start treatment right away. GDV requires surgical correction in order to save the dog’s life.


With immediate veterinary care, most dogs can recover from surgery and continue to live a happy life. The sooner your dog receives treatment, the better his chances of survival. Left untreated, a dog with bloat faces an almost certain death.

How to help prevent bloat

An informed pet parent can help prevent bloat and keep their dog safe. If you have a large breed dog, it’s especially important to take the following prevention steps:

  • Feed multiple smaller meals per day rather than fewer large meals
  • Do not use raised bowls
  • Do not allow rapid eating; consider a slow feeder bowl
  • Keep your dog from exercise for at least 1 hour after eating
  • Keep stress to a minimum and avoid feeding meals right before or after high-stress situations

Preventing bloat with surgery

There is a preventive surgery that can greatly reduce your dog’s chances of bloat, which involves attaching the dog’s stomach to the wall of the abdomen. This procedure is highly recommended for dogs that have bloated before, because they face a greater risk of suffering from bloat again.