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Bloat in Dogs: What are the Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention?

Bloat in dogs, also called Canine Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus. It is a life-threatening condition second only to cancer as a killer of dogs.

Bloat causes the stomach to swell with undigested food or gas.

Then, for reasons that are not fully understood, it rotates (twisted stomach) cutting off its own blood supply. This makes it impossible for either food or gas to exit.

It is a serious and painful condition.

Multiple veterinary websites warn that if a dog with bloat does not get medical help quickly, it can die in just a few hours.

It IS a medical emergency!

So, what are the risks of bloat factors, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of bloat? Let’s take a look.

Bloat in Dogs: What are the Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention?

Risk Factors for Bloat in Dogs

In a study conducted by the Purdue University Research Group, large breeds were found to be at the highest risk for bloat.

This is especially true for those large or giant breeds that have deep chest and/or narrow chests such as Great Danes, St. Bernards, German Shepherds, and Greyhounds.

However, any dog can develop bloat which can strike within minutes.

Because eating or drinking too quickly can put a dog at higher risk for canine bloat, dogs fed just once a day, and therefore tend to ‘wolf’ down their food, are more likely to develop bloat.

Exercising heavily just after eating is another common cause of bloat.

Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs infographic

Infographic credit: PetCare

Bloat Symptoms in Dogs

The most obvious symptom of bloat is the distention of the stomach around the rib area.

However, this is not always easy to notice depending on the breed.

According to Canis Major, an online magazine for dog owners, dogs suffering from bloat also tend to vomit, but little comes up.

Dogs with stomach bloat tend to act like they are in pain and may have a hunched-up appearance.

The gums in these dogs also typically become very pale due to decreased normal circulation.

Treatment for Dogs with Bloat

Veterinary intervention is a must!

Decompression of the bloated stomach using a stomach tube and pump is often the first line of treatment in the emergency room for dogs with bloat.

If the stomach cannot be decompressed this way, emergency surgery is usually the next option.

Dogs with bloat have frequently gone into shock because of the lack of normal blood flow to the heart.

IV fluids will be given to bring the dog out of shock.

When the animal is stable, a veterinarian will perform surgery to untwist the stomach.

A study at the School of Veterinary Medicine in Hanover, Germany found that, although some dogs may be treated with decompression alone. However, about a quarter of them will die.

Even with surgery, only 71.5 percent go home in good condition.

Canis Major advises that, if the dog survives a bout with bloat, recovery can still be a lengthy process. Recovery usually requires a hospital stay of a week or more.

How to Prevent Bloat in Pets infographic

Infographic credit: PetCare

How to Prevent Bloat in Dogs

Owners of susceptible breeds, especially giant breed dogs, should feed the dog two or three smaller meals per day.

In addition, they should take steps to keep them from rapid eating.

Heavy exercise after a meal should also be limited. Allow them to rest for a period of time after eating.

It is also possible to perform surgery for the prevention of the problem.

This surgery is sometimes performed at the same time as neutering or spay surgery in high-risk breeds or those with a family history of bloat.


Can bloat in dogs correct itself?

There is no way for bloat in dogs to correct itself. This condition is considered a medical emergency that requires immediate attention from a veterinarian.

What age is bloat most common in dogs?

According to veterinarians, bloat is most commonly seen in dogs that are middle-aged or older, typically between the ages of 7 and 12. This is because as dogs age, their stomach muscles weaken and lose their ability to contract and relax properly, making them more susceptible to gastric torsion.
That being said, bloat can occur in dogs of any age, including puppies and young adults. In fact, some breeds, such as Doberman Pinschers and Weimaraners, have a higher incidence of bloat at a younger age.

Can too much food cause a dog to develop bloat?

While there are many factors that can contribute to bloat, overeating is a common cause. When a dog eats too much, their stomach can become distended and fill with gas. If the dog then engages in strenuous activity, such as running or playing, the stomach can twist on itself, leading to bloat.

Can a dog with bloat poop?

While it is possible for a dog with bloat to pass stool, it is not common. In fact, many dogs with bloat are unable to defecate due to the blockage in their stomach. Additionally, the symptoms of bloat can include vomiting, abdominal distension, and restlessness, which can make it difficult for the dog to pass stool even if their digestive system is functioning normally.

How long does bloat take to kill a dog?

In most cases, the symptoms of bloat will appear suddenly and escalate rapidly. These symptoms may include restlessness, pacing, drooling, vomiting, and a distended abdomen. As the condition progresses, the dog may become weak, lethargic, and have difficulty breathing. If the stomach twists, cutting off blood supply to vital organs, the dog can go into shock and die within a few hours.

In Conclusion

Bloat is a serious condition that requires immediate attention.

Knowing the symptoms, treatment options, and prevention methods can save your dog’s life.

Be vigilant, educate yourself, and if in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian if you suspect your dog may be suffering from bloat.

Your furry friend deserves the best care possible!


Friday 16th of December 2022

wow very serious. thank you


Wednesday 2nd of November 2022

I have two German Shepherds, so I try to be very cautious about bloat!

Debbie P

Friday 28th of October 2022

Thank you for this very important article.

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