Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.

Bloat in Dogs

What Is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat, a condition in which the stomach becomes distended due to food or gas, is a critical health issue for dogs. While it tends to affect larger breeds or those with deep chests, any dog can experience it. Without prompt treatment, bloat can be fatal within a short time frame, typically within an hour or two.

Normally, the stomach contains a mix of gas, food, liquid, and mucus and resides in the upper abdomen. After food travels down the esophagus, it enters the stomach where it undergoes digestion with the help of enzymes. The partially digested food then moves into the small intestine and further along the gastrointestinal tract.

During bloat, the dog’s stomach expands, cutting off blood flow to the abdomen and the stomach itself. This can lead to damage or death of the stomach wall and, if untreated, other organs may be affected. Additionally, bloat can exert pressure on the diaphragm, causing breathing difficulties.

In severe cases, bloat can progress to gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), where the stomach twists and fills with gas. GDV is considered one of the most excruciating and severe emergencies in veterinary medicine. This condition obstructs blood flow to the stomach and the lower part of the body, preventing food from passing into the intestine. In extreme instances, GDV can result in stomach rupture and spleen injury. GDV constitutes a dire health emergency, and if left untreated, a dog afflicted with it will succumb within hours.


Bloat presents a highly uncomfortable and often painful health emergency for dogs. Consequently, a dog experiencing bloat may exhibit the following signs:

  • Dry-heave (also known as retching) without expelling any food. Sometimes, a dog might expel white foam while attempting to vomit, typically indicating mucus from the esophagus or stomach.
  • Show signs of abdominal distention (although this might not be evident during the initial stages of bloat).
  • Demonstrate sudden anxiety, pacing, an inability to find a comfortable position, or continuous movement around the room or house.
  • Guard their belly or exhibit behavior where they repeatedly look back at their abdomen.
  • Assume a downward-facing dog pose, with the dog’s hindquarters elevated and the upper body lowered.
  • Pant excessively and drool.
  • Collapse.
  • Display a rapid heartbeat (tachycardia).
  • Exhibit pale gums.


The exact reasons behind the occurrence of bloat and GDV in dogs remain unclear, but there are suspected risk factors that may elevate the likelihood of bloat.

While bloat can affect any dog, certain risk factors increase the probability of bloat in dogs:

  • Consuming large quantities of food or water too rapidly.
  • Being over 99 pounds in weight, which raises the risk by approximately 20%.
  • Age, with older dogs being at a heightened risk.
  • Possessing a deep chest structure.
  • Engaging in exercise immediately after eating.
  • Feeding from an elevated food bowl.
  • Having a close relative previously diagnosed with bloat.
  • Consuming dry food where fat or oil is listed among the first 4 ingredients.


A veterinarian might suspect bloat and/or GDV based on a dog’s distressed behavior and physical presentation, but they typically conduct tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Blood Test:

The veterinarian may conduct a blood test to assess your dog’s overall health.

Abdominal X-rays:

These are employed to validate the diagnosis and assess the extent of bloat. X-rays can reveal whether a dog has simple bloat, characterized by a significantly distended and round stomach usually filled with food or gas. X-rays also help identify if bloat has progressed to GDV, where the stomach appears highly distended and exhibits a bubble-like appearance atop the already swollen stomach.


Bloat in dogs can be cured if detected early, but the treatment depends on its severity.

There are no home remedies for bloat in dogs. When dogs have mild bloat, they are usually admitted to the hospital to receive intravenous (IV) fluids and pain or nausea medication as necessary. Additionally, they are frequently walked to promote gastrointestinal tract movement and facilitate the passage of gas and food through the body.

Dogs with gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) require more intensive care. This typically involves:

  • Administering IV fluids with electrolytes to aggressively address shock and enhance circulation to vital organs.
  • Providing pain relievers and antibiotics to manage discomfort, shock, and any tissue necrosis resulting from compromised circulation.
  • Performing trocharization, a procedure commonly used to release air from the stomach to restore blood flow.
  • Conducting an electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor for any cardiac irregularities.
  • Performing surgery once the dog is stable. Depending on the severity of the bloat, the veterinarian may need to untwist the dog’s stomach and/or spleen. Any necrotic parts of the stomach wall resulting from impaired blood flow may also be removed. Additionally, the veterinarian will perform a gastropexy procedure to attach the stomach to the body wall, significantly reducing the risk of future stomach torsion.

Living and Management

After diagnosis, dogs with uncomplicated bloat usually recover and resume their normal activities within one to two days of receiving fluids and undergoing frequent walks.

Following a gastropexy procedure, a dog will remain hospitalized until their pain is managed, and they are eating and drinking independently. The length of a dog’s hospitalization depends on their medical history and the severity of the bloat. It could range from one to two days to seven days or more.

Adhere to your veterinarian’s instructions for post-surgical care. This typically involves 10 to 14 days of rest, monitoring the incision, and administering oral medications. Using a cone or recovery suit can help prevent your dog from licking or chewing the surgical site during recovery.

Bloat in Dogs FAQs

What provides quick relief for bloating in dogs?

If your dog shows signs of bloat, immediate veterinary attention is necessary. If the bloat involves distension only and the stomach hasn’t twisted (GDV), your veterinarian will administer fluids, medications, and encourage increased walking. However, if your dog’s stomach has twisted, emergency surgery will likely be the course of action.

Can dogs survive bloat?

Yes, dogs can survive bloat and GDV with prompt medical intervention. While both conditions are critical and potentially life-threatening, timely medical attention can lead to complete recovery. Seeking emergency veterinary care is crucial; even a delay of one to two hours can significantly impact the prognosis.

What foods contribute to bloat in dogs?

No particular foods are directly linked to causing bloat in dogs. However, consuming large quantities of food and water or engaging in vigorous activity after a substantial meal pose greater risks.

Scroll to Top