Pet-education /  Bloat

Bloat...A Medical Emergency

GDV (a veterinary surgeon's perspective)   


Video showing a dog bloating

Very serious condition and can cause death. 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 in advance what you would do if your dog bloated, like having the telephone-number to an emergency veterinary clinic handy.

Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand, very swollen and puts pressure on other organs.  Some gassiness will dissipate by itself, but when bloat hits all of a sudden, the stomach can swell dramatically, twisting the stomach cavity, which can lead to a possible cutting off of blood supply.

It can cause dangerous problems, including:

* No blood flow to his heart and stomach lining

* A tear in the wall of his stomach

* A harder time breathing

It occurs in all large breeds, most often in big, deep-chested dogs such as German Shepherds, Borzoi, Rottweiler, Akitas, Boxers and others. Some mean it can be a genetic disposition as you often find more bloat in certain lines than in others

What exactly is Bloat/ Gastric Dilation and what are the Signs?

As mentioned it can be fatal and can come on quite quickly. It causes coma, shock and even death can occur within hours. Your vet can diagnose Canine Bloat with an x-ray. The diagnosis is given when stomach enlargement due to excessive gas and/or dilation is present.

Following dilation, volvulus (torsion) may occur. This is especially dangerous as it closes the esophagus and pylorus, which prevents the dog from getting rid of gas by belching. It also stops food from advancing into the intestines and stops the dog from vomiting. Torsion also stops a major vein that carries blood to the heart, which can lead to a shock and/or death.

Bloat usually comes on very quickly. At first, your dog may show signs that his stomach hurts.

He may:

* Act restless

* Drool

* Have a swollen stomach

* Look anxious

* Look at his stomach

* Pace

* Try to vomit, but nothing comes up, may occur every 5-30 minutes

As the condition gets worse, he may:

* Collapse

* Have pale gums

* Have a rapid heartbeat

* Be short of breath

* Feel weak

If you think your dog has bloat, get him to a clinic right away. If dogs don’t get treatment in time, the condition can kill them.

Here are some things that raise a dog’s risk for it, including:

* Eating from a raised food bowl

* Having one large meal a day

* A lot of running or playing (exercise) after he eats

* Heredity

* Other dogs he’s related to have had bloat. Especially having a first-degree relative who has bloated

* Eating or drinking too much

* Stress

* Rapid eating

* Eating dry foods that contain citric acid as a preservative (the risk is even worse if the owner moistens   the food)

* Eating dry foods that contain fat among the first four ingredients

* Insufficient pancreatic enzymes, such as Trypsin (a pancreatic enzyme present in meat)

* Eating gas-producing foods (especially soybean products, brewer's yeast, and alfalfa)   

* Dogs who have untreated Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) are considered more prone to bloat

* Gas is associated with incomplete digestion   

* Having a deep and narrow chest compared to other dogs of the same breed

* Fearful or anxious temperament


First, the vet will put a tube into your dog’s throat and down to his stomach to release the pressure that has built up. Sometimes, a twisted stomach can keep the tube from passing through. If that’s the case, the vet will put a large, hollow needle through his belly into his stomach and release the pressure that way

If your dog is in shock, the vet may give him fluids through an IV, antibiotics, or steroids.

Then, the vet will take X-rays to see if his stomach is twisted. If it is, your dog will have emergency surgery to untwist it and put it back in its normal position. The vet also will fix the stomach in the right place to keep your dog from getting bloat again. She’ll also check to see if the condition damaged other parts of his body.

Bloat is very serious, but there are ways you can keep it from happening to your dog. Here are some recommendations:

Don’t use a raised bowl unless your vet says your dog needs one.

Don’t let him run or play a lot right before or after meals.

Feed him a few small meals throughout the day instead of one or two large ones.

Make sure he drinks a normal amount of water.

Avoid highly stressful situations.  If you can't avoid them, try to minimize the stress as much as possible.  Be extra watchful.

Do not permit rapid eating

Feed a high-protein (>30%) diet, particularly of raw meat

Feed adequate amount of fiber (for commercial dog food, at least 3.00% crude fiber)

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

Feed Yogurt

Yogurt is as good for dogs as it is for humans! Dog’s digestive tracts contain good bacteria that help them to digest food properly. To improve your dog’s digestion and prevent gas from accumulating, give him plain yogurt (no artificial sweeteners). Give dogs over 15 pounds 1 teaspoon of yogurt a day and one-quarter to one-half teaspoon for small dogs.

Simethicone (in Norway called Minifom)

It’s used to reduce bloating, discomfort or pain caused by excessive gas. Simethicone is a mixture of polydimethylsiloxane and hydrated silica gel.

Digestive Enzymes

Another way to improve digestion is to give him or her digestive enzymes on a daily basis. MSE Daily Boost works wonderfully, and MSE Microbial Paste should also be included in your doggie arsenal, especially if you have a large breed! You can read more about the importance of digestive enzymes/probiotics here.


Give your dog his own space to eat without being disturbed by other animals. This will help him to eat slower and decrease the chances of developing gas, which can lead to bloat.

Cook at Home

Yes, cooking for your dog is acceptable. Some research states that dogs given homemade food are not as likely to develop canine bloat. It’s easy to make home-cooked food and I have done that for years for my Collies.

Give your Dog Chamomile

Used in humans with digestive problems, chamomile will also calm your dog’s tummy. Prepare chamomile tea like normal, and let it cool until it reaches room temperature. Give dogs less than fifteen pounds one half teaspoon a day, and larger dogs 1 tablespoon per day. Mix the tea in with their food or administer with a syringe before meals.

Soothe your dog with Slippery Elm

Incessant intestinal issues can be helped with Digestive Support. This helps to keep the digestive system moving smoothly and helps dogs that refuse to eat. Digestive Support soothes gastric systems, maintains healthy energy levels, improves absorption of nutrients and improves overall wellness.


Food can ferment in slow intestinal tracts, which can cause gas to accumulate. Walking your dog before he eats may help to get his digestive system moving. Be sure you wait 2 hours after eating for a brisk walk, as strenuous exercise after eating can cause bloat.

Nux moschata D30

This is a homeopathic remedy that helps reverse gas build up right away. Or you can try ½ ts of nutmeg

Unfortunately, 29%-33% of dogs with bloat die. Being aware of the symptoms of bloat is imperative to the health of your dog. Practicing good eating habits, proper exercise, giving your dog probiotics and feeding them an all-natural diet will decrease the chance of him developing canine bloat.

The most importantly, know your dog well so you'll know when your dog just isn't acting normally, and you take him/her to the veterinarian