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What is Dog Bloat?

What Is Dog Bloat?

Bloat happens when a dog's stomach fills with excessive gas, food, or fluid usually due to excessive eating or drinking or eating or drinking too fast. The expanded stomach puts pressure on other organs causing dangerous problems, including:

  • No blood flow to the heart and stomach lining
  • A tear in the wall of the stomach
  • A harder time breathing

When a dog’s stomach rotates or “twists” with Bloat, a condition develops that can be deadly called Gastric Dilation Volvulus.  As the stomach rotates, blood becomes trapped, unable to return to the heart and other areas of the body. This condition can send your dog into shock and is obviously life threatening.


Bloat usually comes on very quickly. These are some of the signs to look out for

  • Restlessness
  • Drooling
  • A swollen stomach
  • Anxious
  • Sniffing at the midsection
  • Pacing
  • Trying to vomit, but nothing comes up

As the condition gets worse, your dog may:

  • Collapse
  • Pale gums
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • General weakness

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 be fatal.


Vets aren't sure what causes bloat, but there are some things that raise a dog's risk for it including:

  • Eating from a raised food bowl
  • Having one large meal a day
  • Eating quickly
  • A lot of running or playing after eating
  • Family history/Genetics
  • Eating or drinking too much and too quickly
  • Stress

Any dog can have bloat, but it's much more common in deep-chested, large breeds, like Akitas, Boxers, Basset Hounds, and German Shepherds.

Be careful using a raised feeding bowl with shorter breeds. Only use a raised bowl if your veterinary recommends one.


The treatment a dog gets depends on how severe his condition is.

First, the vet may 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 may 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. The vet will also check to see if the condition damaged other parts of his body.


Bloat can be scary, but there are ways you can keep it from happening to your dog:

  • 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 plenty of fresh water

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