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

Bloat in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

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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.

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’s all you need to know about bloating in dogs.


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, and the 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 all age groups.
  • 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 for survival.

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

Other indications of bloat can include weakness, swollen 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 behavior:

    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 bloated stomach in dogs

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 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

How to prevent bloat

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

  • eed 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 exercising.
  • 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; however, 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 decreased blood supply to the heart due to bloating.

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 decreases significantly; thus, preventing bloat in dogs.


Digestible foods

Another way you might help prevent bloat is by feed a high-quality, easily 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.

IAMS™ dog food stands out as a superior and highly digestible choice for your furry companion.


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

If you're looking for the perfect dog for you, try our Dog Breed Selector today and enjoy a lifetime of tail-wagging joy.

Frequently asked questions about flatulence in dogs

  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 bloat 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 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 unauthorized food sources, and exercise caution the next time your pet overeats.

  • Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels
    Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels
    Understanding Puppy Food Nutrition Labels

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    How much do you know about the food you’re buying for your puppy? When shopping for puppy food, pay attention to these three sections of a dog food label.


    1. The Ingredient Panel

    This section lists all the ingredients that make up the product. The ingredients are listed in descending order according to weight before cooking. In dry food, look for a source of high-quality animal-based protein: chicken or lamb, for example. Dogs thrive on animal proteins.

    Manufacturers who use large amounts of vegetable proteins might be saving money by providing basic — but not optimal — nutrition. You should also avoid artificial colors and flavors, which offer no nutritional benefits.


    2. The Guaranteed Analysis

    Near the ingredient panel should be a chart of percentages called the 'guaranteed analysis.' These figures reveal the basic nutrient makeup of the dog food's formula and protein content. The minimum percentages of protein and fat and the maximum percentages of fiber and moisture (water) should be listed.


    3. The Manufacturer’s Name and Address

    This information must be included on the label by law. A toll-free number or web address for the manufacturer may also be listed. Manufacturers who list a phone number, such as IAMS™, generally have a high-quality product and welcome consumer calls and questions. If you would like information about IAMS products, visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-525-4267.

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