Thousands of dogs die from bloat (otherwise known as gastric torsion) each year. Many could have been saved had their owners taken some simple measures to prevent bloat or were able to spot the tell tale signs of bloat in their dogs.

What Is Bloat?

Bloat in dogs is gas in the dog’s stomach that is trapped because the stomach has become twisted. This is often referred to a gastric torsion or gastric dilation-volvulus.

It is the second cause of most deaths in dogs (cancer being the first) and is especially prevalent in large deep chested dogs.

What Causes Bloat in Dogs?

Unfortunately, the exact cause of bloat in dogs is not known. However, it is believed that eating too much food in one sitting or drinking too much water quickly followed by too much exercise are major contributors.

Vigorous exercise soon after an intake of food or liquid such as water or gravy can cause gas to inflate the stomach. At this point if the stomach twists it shuts of the stomach inlet and outlet as well as the blood supply to the stomach.

Very soon the stomach tissue dies and unless treated immediately, the dog will die.

The Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

Please don’t be tempted to wait and see before taking your dog to the vet’s when you spot the symptoms I have detailed below. Bloat will not go away by waiting and in fact it will get worse and it’s excruciatingly painful for your dog! And I can assure you that unless you take your dog to the vet’s immediately the chances are your dog will die. I know from my own experience that this is true. You see Findlay, my Spinone survived bloat because I was able to recognise the signs and took him to the vet’s immediately.

So here are the signs your dog has bloat. If you spot any you must take your dog to the vet immediately!

  • Anxiety and restlessness
  • Bloated tummy that feels as tight as a drum
  • Keeps trying to vomit or vomiting frothy mucus
  • Tries to defaecate unsuccessfully
  • Excessive drooling
  • Whining
  • No appetite
  • Pale gums
  • Lethargic

The Causes of Bloat in Dogs

Although veterinary professionals are not entirely sure what causes bloat in dogs they have identified the following key factors that contribute:

  • Deep chested dogs are particularly susceptible
  • Eating or drinking quickly
  • Exercise too soon before or after eating
  • Hereditary
  • Stress

Dog Breeds Most Likely to Suffer from Bloat

Bloat is most often seen in larger dogs. However, that doesn’t mean to say that medium sized or small dogs never suffer from bloat. So regardless of the size of your dog you need to be aware of bloat and familiarise yourself with the symptoms. Remember bloat is the second biggest killer of dogs so be on your guard.  When you buy a dog it’s wise to ask the breeder if there’s a history of bloat in the line since a contributory factor is hereditary.

Bloat is seldom seen in puppies, only usually being found in adult dogs. Male dogs appear to be more susceptible than females. Certain breeds are more likely to get bloat. And the following is a list of these although please bear in mind this list is not exhaustive so please don’t assume if your dog breed is not on this list you can forget about bloat!

  • Akita
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Bloodhound
  • Boxer
  • Doberman
  • German Shepherd
  • Golden Retriever
  • Great Dane
  • Irish Setter
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Italian Spinone
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Pyrenean Mountain Dog
  • Rottweiler
  • St. Bernards
  • Standard Poodle
  • Vizla
  • Weimaraner

How Bloat in Dogs is Treated

Bloat is often referred to as a silent killer. Why? Because it kills quickly and silently.  Many dog owners only find out about bloat when their vet explains that they were too late to save their dog. Dealing with the grief of losing your best friend is bad enough but your dog dying from bloat when just an hour or so ago they were perfectly healthy is absolutely devastating. And to make matters worse you find out that had you picked up the symptoms earlier your vet could have probably saved them! Please don’t ever let that happen to you!

Instead learn to recognise the early warning signs of bloat as listed in this article and take your dog to the vet immediately for treatment if you spot any of them. Luckily, I did and fast action saved my dog’s life.

The Treatment

First the vet will insert a tube into the dog’s stomach wall or down through the oesophagus to release the trapped gas. This is often followed by an operation to untwist the dog’s stomach. To reduce the risk of the stomach twisting again some vets recommend stomach tacking (gastropexy). Recovery can be long and fraught with complications such as shock, dehydration and fatigue.

Golden Rules for Preventing Bloat in Dogs

Bloat can be caused by many factors which makes it difficult to prevent it from happening to your dog. That said if you have a deep chested dog it’s wise to obey the following 4 golden rules to reduce the risk of bloat. Though owners of all dogs would probably do well to follow these housekeeping rules too!:

  1. Feed three small meals spread over the day instead of one large meal in the evening
  2. Never allow your dog to exercise vigorously immediately before or, more importantly immediately after eating. It’s better to let them digest their food a little first or take them on a lead for a short toilet break. A good yardstick is to only allow vigorous exercise at least an hour before or after a meal.
  3. Never overfeed.
  4. Prevent your dog from drinking a lot of water after eating a large meal.

Findlay, my Spinone Who Survived Bloat

bloat in dogs
Findlay & Me Relaxing

Want to Learn More About Bloat in Dogs? Try These Useful Resources:


Canine Bloat Awareness