Informational Articles & Resources

Always consult your vet about the health and care of your animals and pets.

Know Bloat Symptoms, Save Your Dog’s Life

When the stomach is filled with air, fluid or food, it’s considered bloat. Bloating is extremely uncomfortable, and it can put pressure on other organs and cause difficulty breathing. However, the term “bloat,” when used with dogs, generally refers to a much more critical condition called gastric dilation volvolvus, or GDV. GDV happens when the bloated stomach becomes twisted in the abdomen. This causes great tension on internal organs and often leads to partial or total restriction of blood supply to other tissues. Suppression of the caudal vena cava, a large vein that returns blood to the heart, can very quickly lead to shock. Even when treated, it’s estimated that up to 40% of GDV cases result in death.


The exact cause of bloat/GDV remains unknown. There are, however, certain activities that are thought to be correlated with bloat. Below are some suggestions that could reduce the risk of this tragic condition.

• Spread out your dogs’ meals during the day. Instead of feeding one large meal, feed half of the daily portion in the morning and evening.
• Limit or refrain from exercise 1-2 hours before and after your dog eats a meal.
• Do not raise the food bowl, unless directed by your veterinarian. It was thought that this decreased the risk of bloat in the past, but has since been thought to do the opposite.
• Do not allow excess consumption of water, especially after exercise and large meals. Large gulping of water (or food) will increase the amount of air taken into the stomach.
• Feeding diets free of or low in grains and other carbohydrates – the majority, such as corn, rice, wheat, soy and oatmeal, are highly fermentable and can produce gas in the stomach.
• Reduce stress for your pet. Stress, no matter the cause, is thought to be a contributing factor in cases of bloat.
• Tacking, or prophylactic gastropexy, is a surgical procedure that attaches (or tacks) the stomach lining to the abdomen. This is often done in high-risk breeds, and can help keep a bloated stomach from twisting. If your dog has experienced GDV, it is highly recommend to have this procedure done as the incidence of reoccurrence is extremely high.

Certain breeds of dogs, particularly with large, deep chests, are thought to be at a higher risk for GDV. These breeds include Great Danes, Doberman Pinschers, German Shepherds, Weimaraners, Irish Setters, Labrador Retrievers, Irish Wolfhounds, Boxers and Standard Poodles.


It’s extremely important to know the early symptoms of bloat. Remember, almost half of the cases caught early enough to receive veterinary treatment result in death. GDV is a true emergency, and the earlier you can recognize the signs, the better. Symptoms to watch out for include:
• Distended stomach
• Sudden lethargy, or restlessness and pacing
• Weakness
• Excessive salivation
• Unsuccessful attempts at vomiting
• Pale mucous membranes, such as the gums
• Shortness of breath
• Collapse

It is always better to be safe than sorry. GDV is a medical emergency that needs immediate veterinary treatment. Taking your dog to the vet at the first sign of these symptoms can save your dog’s life. GDV is a devastating experience, and veterinarians around the world are trying to figure out the causes so we can prevent this tragedy once and for all. Until then, do what you can to limit the risks and keep an extra eye out for your furry loved one.


Call us if you see any strange symptoms in your pets.

Our resources and articles originate from other sources such as VetStreet and PetMD, and are meant for general pet care information. This article comes from the website. Please contact our office directly for specific questions concerning your pets or any other animals you may come into contact with.

SVAH2webeditsKnow Bloat Symptoms, Save Your Dog’s Life