Bloat is the second leading cause of death in dogs, yet few pet owners truly understand what the condition is, and how to recognize it. Bloat can affect dogs of any age and breeds and is one of the most serious pet emergencies you may encounter. 

Understanding the signs of bloat in dogs, and what your emergency options are, may just save the life of your sweet pet!

What is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat in dogs is also known as gastric dilation volvulus (GDV) and refers to the buildup of gas and fluid in the stomach, causing it to distend. In some cases, this distension can cause the stomach to twist, cutting off the blood supply to the stomach. This can lead to sepsis and cell death of both the stomach and spleen. Without treatment, a dog with bloat can die within a few hours. 

The causes of bloat aren’t specifically known, but most experts agree it occurs as a result of ingesting too much water or food immediately before or after strenuous activity. Although any dog can develop bloat, deep-chested breeds (such as dobermans, great danes, boxers, poodles, Weimaraners) are at an increased risk.

Keeping an Eye Out

If your dog is experiencing bloat, you may notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Distended abdomen
  • Restlessness/pacing
  • Attempts to vomit or belch unsuccessfully
  • Reacting with pain when the abdomen is touched
  • Shallow/rapid breathing
  • Stiff walking/appearing uncomfortable
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling 
  • Collapse 

Bloat in dogs is a medical emergency, and every minute counts. Your dog will need to be seen by us or the nearest emergency veterinary hospital immediately. Most dogs with bloat will require surgery to remove dead tissue and repair the stomach, and will need to be treated for shock, which often accompanies bloat.

Preventing GDV

There are certain steps you take to decrease your dog’s chances of developing bloat. Those include:

  • Instead of feeding your dog one large meal, feed two smaller meals per day
  • Prevent your dog from eating or drinking too much, too quickly
  • Don’t feed your dog immediately before or after vigorous activity
  • Keep your dog’s life as stress-free as possible

If you should find yourself needing to have your dog treated for bloat, know that you are in good hands with The Pet Experts at Elmhurst Animal Care Center. Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions about bloat in dogs.