Warning signs of bloat that can save your dog’s life

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It’s cute when dogs do human-like things like when your dog steals some food and gets slight diarrhoea, you would probably think it’s funny and he deserves it. The thing is, we humans can bloat all day long, but in dogs it’s dangerous and potentially fatal.


  • What is dog bloat?

The technical name for bloat is “Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus” (“GDV”).  Bloating of the stomach is often related to swallowed air (although food and fluid can also be present).  It usually happens when there’s an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid, and/or foam in the stomach (“gastric dilatation”). Stress can be a significant contributing factor also. Bloat can occur with or without “volvulus” (twisting).  As the stomach swells, it may rotate, twisting between its fixed attachments at the esophagus (food tube) and at the duodenum (the upper intestine). The twisting stomach traps air, food, and water in the stomach while the bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog. Sadly, even with emergency treatment, up to 50% of dogs will die if their stomach has twisted.

The intention of this blog is not to scare you or cajole you to make veterinary expenses you would rather avoid rather, it is to sensitise you on the dangers of bloat and ensure you don’t lose your beloved pet to what can prevented or at least treated. This information is not intended to replace advice or guidance from veterinarians or other pet care professionals but simply to assist you with your own research on this very serious problem.


  • Which dogs are more susceptible?

Bloat affects mainly deep chested dog breeds. Generally, this is a list of deep chested dog breed that could be more prone to bloats.

  • Great Danes (they bloat more than any other breed)
  • Boxers
  • German Shepherd
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Weimarner
  • Irish setters
  • Basset Hounds
  • Akitas
  • Samoyed
  • Rottweiler
  • Shiloh Shepherd
  • King Shepherd
  • Blood Hounds
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Old English Sheep dog
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Standard Poodles.
  • Bullmastiff
  • Boxer
  • Shar-Pei
  • Dachshund
  • Bernard
  • Newfoundland
  • Age can also be a causing factor of bloat i.e. bloats develops very suddenly, and occurs more in middle aged or older dogs, so do not ignore symptoms of bloat in other dog breeds.


  • Causes of Bloat
  • Stress
  • It could be as a result of mating, whelping, boarding, change in routine, new dog in household, etc
  • Activities that result in gulping air.


  • Eating habits, especially
  • Elevated food bowls
  • Rapid eating
  • Eating rapidly
  • Consuming dry foods that use citric acid as a preservative dry foods that contain fat
  • Eating gas-producing foods especially soybean products
  • Drinking too much water too quickly (can cause gulping of air)
  • Insufficient pancreatic enzymes, such as Trypsin (a pancreatic enzyme present in meat)
  • Dilution of gastric juices necessary for complete digestion by drinking too much water before or after eating


  • Heredity
  • Especiallyhaving a first-degree relative who has bloated
  • Dogs with untreated exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) are considered to be more prone to bloat


  • Exercise before and especially after eating


  • Build and Physical characteristics
  • Having deep and narrow chest
  • Older dogs
  • Big dogs
  • Male dogs
  • Underweight dogs



  • Symptoms of Bloat

Unfortunately from the onset of the first symptoms you have very little time to get immediate medical attention for your dog. Typical symptoms often include some but not necessarily all of the following:

  • Attempts to vomit

Usually referred to as the hallmark symptom is the most common symptoms. It may occur every 5-30 minutes usually unsuccessful or possibly just foam and mucous comes up. It could also sound like a repeated cough

  • Behavioral change

Perhaps the earliest warning sign and may be the only sign that almost always occurs. If your dog foes outside in the middle of the night combined with frequent attempts to vomit, bloat is a very real possibility.

  • Significant anxiety or restlessness

Lack of normal gurgling and digestive sounds in the tummy< put your ears to the dog tummy and you

  • Bloated abdomen that may feel like a tight drum
  • Hunched up or roached up appearance


Despite the term bloat, many times this symptoms never occurs or is not apparent.

  • Coughing
  • Unproductive gagging
  • Heavy salivating or drooling
  • Foamy mucous around the lips
  • Unproductive attempts to defecate
  • Weak pulse
  • Apparent weakness, unable to stand or has a spread-legged stance
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Could mouth membranes
  • Shallow breathing
  • May refuse to lie down or even sit down
  • May curl up in a ball or go into a praying or crouched position
  • Drinking excessively
  • Collapse



  • Prevention of Bloat
  • Avoid or minimize stressful incidents that stress your dog
  • Do not use an elevated food bowl
  • Don’t let your dog exercise an hour (longer if possible) before and especially after eating. Particularly avoid vigorous exercise and don’t permit your dog to roll over because it could cause the stomach to twist
  • Do not permit rapid eating
  • Feed 2 to 3 meals in a day instead of just one
  • Do not give water one hour before and after a meal because it dilutes the gastric juices necessary for proper digestion which in turn leads to gas production
  • Always keep a product with simethicone on hand to treat gas symptoms. Like burping more than once or any other sign of gas
  • Allow access to fresh water at all times except before and after meals
  • Feed a high quality diet< high protein, adequate amount of fiber, reduces carbohydrates, avoid fatty foods and foods with citric acid and also add an enzyme product to your dog’s food.


The key to taking proper care of your dog is by knowing your dog and knowing  when it’s not acting right and by seeking proper medical care from your veterinarian whenever you notice anything out of place.


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