Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog
Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog

Bloat in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Bloat can affect any dog; however, it is observed in deep-chested, larger breeds more frequently than in others. Unfortunately, you will find that many dog owners are completely unaware of this ailment until it starts to endanger their pet’s life. Therefore, all pet owners should be aware of bloat and how to spot and respond to symptoms of bloat in dogs. So, here is all you need to know about dog bloat.

What is bloat in dogs?

Bloat is a life-threatening condition that acts rapidly and can lead to death within hours if not recognized and treated immediately. Unfortunately, the cause of bloat remains unknown at this time.

The scientific term for bloat is gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV. Bloat is characterized by rapid and abnormal expansion of the stomach with gas (dilatation). This can be followed by rotation of the stomach (volvulus). This rotation closes both the entry to and exit from the stomach. The blood vessels also are closed down, and blood flow is restricted.

What follows is an increase in pressure inside the stomach and compression of the surrounding organs. Eventually, shock will occur as a result of the restricted blood flow. Here are a few key facts about bloat:

  • Bloat should always be treated as a medical emergency.
  • Bloat can kill a dog within hours after onset.
  • The cause of bloat is unknown.
  • Bloat can occur in dogs of any age.
  • Certain breeds are more susceptible to bloat, particularly deep-chested dogs.
  • The stomach rapidly expands with gas then rotates on the long axis. Entry to and exit from the stomach is prohibited, causing blood vessels to close and restriction of blood flow.

Symptoms of bloat in dogs

Bloat is a true medical emergency, and early identification and treatment is critical to survival.

In the early stages of bloat, the dog will be very uncomfortable. You might see him pacing and whining or trying unsuccessfully to get into a comfortable position. He might seem anxious, might lick, or keep staring at his stomach, and might attempt to vomit, without success.

Other indications of bloat can include weakness, swelling of the abdomen, and even signs of shock. Signs of shock are increased heart rate and abnormally rapid breathing.

If you notice these signs of bloat in dogs, call your veterinarian immediately!

  • Whining
  • Inability to get comfortable
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Pale gums
  • Unproductive attempts to vomit
  • Abnormally rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Pain, weakness
  • Swelling of the abdomen (particularly the left side).


Other Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs Include: 

  • Enlargement of stomach

This occurs due to gas getting trapped in the stomach region.


  • Excess salivation

Gastrointestinal problems in dogs can cause excessive salivation, including esophageal diseases like megaesophagus.


  • Restless behaviour:

Pacing and restlessness are typical signs of bloating. Your dog may even groan or whine when you press on their belly.


  • Shorter breath:

An abnormal swelling due to gas in your dog’s stomach can also cause respiratory distress along with a twisted belly.


  • Rapid heartbeat:

Bloating can put strain on the diaphragm, a delicate muscle that divides the chest from the abdomen. This ends up making heartbeats shorter and breathing difficult. 

Causes of Bloating

Although veterinarians don't know what causes bloat in dogs, there are numerous factors that increase a dog's risk for this condition. These include: 

  • Having one large meal per a day instead of eating frequent, smaller meals
  • Overeating and drinking too quickly
  • Experiencing a tough and stressful situation, such as a boarding kennel or visits to the veterinarian
  • Excessive running or playing immediately after a meal

Helping Prevent Bloat

These suggestions could help you prevent bloat in your dog. However, they are based on suspected risk factors and are not guaranteed to prevent the onset of bloat.

  • Feed small amounts of food frequently, two to three times daily.
  • Avoid exercise for one hour before and two hours after meals.
  • Don't let your dog drink large amounts of water just before or after eating or exercise.
  • If you have two or more dogs, feed them separately to avoid rapid, stressful eating.
  • If possible, feed at times when after-feeding behavior can be observed.
  • Avoid abrupt diet changes.
  • If you see signs of bloat, call your veterinarian immediately.


Is Bloating Curable?

All cases of bloat in dogs require prompt medical intervention. The condition can be treated if it gets addressed quickly. In case of a simple bloat where the dog's stomach has not twisted, the pet may be treated without any medication. They may be given fluids and certain therapies. If discovered in its early stages, other types of bloats such as GDV, may also be treatable. Surgical intervention may also be used for treatment in certain cases.

Other Options to Treat Bloat in Dogs

Releasing the trapped air and gas will relieve pressure on the surrounding organs and prevent the stomach's tissue from degenerating. A tube and stomach pump can be used for this, although surgery may be required on occasion. This can aid in stomach unwinding or curing GDV in dogs.

Additionally, electrolyte-fortified intravenous fluids are also administered to improve blood flow to vital organs. In many cases, this necessitates the use of potent painkillers, antibiotics, and medications to treat the decrease of blood supply to the heart that has been brought on by bloat.

As soon as the dog is steady, surgery is carried out. Your veterinarian may need to untwist the dog's stomach and remove any stomach wall tissue that might have died from a lack of blood supply. The veterinarian will also perform a treatment known as a gastropexy to suture the stomach to the body wall. As a result, the likelihood of the stomach rotating in the future is greatly decreased, thus preventing bloat in dogs.

Digestible Foods

Another way you might help prevent bloat is to feed a high-quality, highly digestible food with normal fiber levels.

Feeding management offers the best method available for reducing risk until the exact cause of bloat can be identified. Although not 100% effective, these measures can reduce the number of dogs that face this serious, life-threatening condition.

High-Risk Breeds

  • German Shepherd
  • Bouvier de Flandres
  • Great Dane
  • Boxer
  • St. Bernard
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Bloodhound
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Irish Setter
  • Gordon Setter
  • Borzoi
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Dachshund
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Basset Hound

Frequently asked questions about Signs and Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs and its Prevention

  1. How do you help a dog with a bloated stomach?
  2. You can help a dog with a bloated stomach by administering intravenous fluids with electrolytes and pain relievers. This will lessen their pain and shock and possibly even protect important tissues from dying due to the loss of blood flow.

  3. Why is my dog's belly bloated?
  4. Your dog’s belly may appear bloated due to gas being trapped in the stomach region. This may result in abdomen enlargement, thus blocking blood flow and impeding digestion.

  5. Can dog bloating resolve on its own?
  6. Dog bloat, also known as simple bloat, often happens and gets better on its own. Bloat without twisting can still be fatal, but the risk depends on how severe the condition is and how long it lasts.

  7. What are the first signs of bloat in a dog?
  8. Bloat usually occurs quickly and without any warning. A dog may pace, pant, drool, or even try to vomit without being able to throw up. Other typical dog bloating symptoms include anxiety and stomach discomfort. In extreme circumstances, dogs could pass out, have an accelerated heart rate, or even exhibit pale gums.

  9. How long does food bloat last in dogs?
  10. Food bloat in dogs usually does not last beyond 24 hours with vigorous hydration therapy and supportive care. However, be sure to take necessary precautions to prevent your dog from getting unauthorised food sources, and exercise caution the next time your pet overeats.

  • Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
    Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
    Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs

    Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.



    Choosing a Food for Overall Health

    To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:

    • Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
    • Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
    • Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
    • High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
    • A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
    • A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels


    These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.



    Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage

    Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.



    Guarding Against Weight Gain

    Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:

    • A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
    • L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
    • Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
    • Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health



    Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy

    Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.



    Switching to a Mature Diet

    Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.

    Nutrition for Large and Giant Breed Adult Dogs
    Nutrition for Large and Giant Breed Adult Dogs