Dog bloat, also known as bloating, dog bloating, bloat, or its medical name, Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (or Gastric Dilation and Volvulus), is a condition that can be serious if left untreated.
Sometimes, bloating can be caused simply by your pup eating too much at once. A few minutes and some gas release and all is well again. A newborn puppy's bloated belly is fairly normal, too.
At other times, however, a bloated tum can evolve into a condition that affects the pup’s respiratory system as well as the digestive system. It could even potentially cause death.
But when can you provide dog gas relief? Is it possible to prevent dog bloat? What happens if you don’t do anything about it?
Let’s jump right in and find out.
What is Dog Bloat?
GDV occurs when too much air enters a dog’s stomach. This causes the organ to expand, like a balloon – “gastro dilation”.
If the organ expands too much, it will turn right over on itself, preventing matter from entering or exiting – food, waste, etc. When this happens, vets call it a “volvulus”, which makes up the second part of the name.
According to research, bloat, or GDV, is a condition that initially affects the digestive system of a dog, but once the stomach starts to expand and twist around on itself, the condition affects other organs. The contorted stomach pushes against the lungs and diaphragm, causing unstable breathing and a range of other respiratory problems.
Dog Bloating and Gastric Dilation-Volvulus: Signs and Symptoms
One of the obvious signs of dog bloating will, of course, be actual bloating around the abdomen. This is not the only symptom, however.
The following symptoms can appear very quickly after your pup’s stomach has started to enlarge:
- Excessive drooling;
- Faster than usual breathing;
- Difficulty breathing;
- Fast heart rate;
- Gagging but not vomiting;
- Change in gum shade, from pink to pale gray;
- Vomiting a foamy substance without any food matter;
- Unusual behavior, such as pacing or walking in circles;
- Refusing strokes, particularly around the abdomen;
- Unusual aggression.
You will know the symptoms that your particular pup displays when they are not well, so always trudge your gut. If you think something isn’t quite right, get them checked over. You’re not being paranoid if you do; you’re being a great pet owner!
Dog Bloat Warning:
Bloating in dogs tends to happen a little while after feeding, so a dog breed prone to GDV should be kept an eye on. You can do it with pet sitters, a neighbor or friend, or with an interactive pet camera.
Read more: Pet Sitting Alternatives
If you feed your dog and then leave the house to go to work, your dog’s stomach could bloat up after you are gone. If the bloat continues and the dog’s breathing is then restricted, your dog could be quite unwell by the time you get home.
Food Bloat in Dogs: High-Risk Breeds
Larger dogs, especially those with deep chests, suffer from bloat far more often than their smaller counterparts.
The most high-risk dog breeds for potentially fatal bloat include:
- Basset Hounds;
- Bull Mastiffs;
- Chow Chows;
- Cocker Spaniels;
- German Shepherds;
- Golden Retrievers;
- Gordon Setters;
- Great Danes;
- Old English Sheepdogs;
- Saint Bernards;
Older doggos tend to suffer more from bloat than younger ones, and the risks are increased further with obesity. Some experts believe that being overweight increases the risks of bloat and GDV in dogs by as much as twenty percent.
Other risk factors include high-fat dry food diets, exercising your dog too soon after they have eaten, and a greedy doggo that eats too quickly.
What is the Survival Rate of Bloat in Dogs?
Even with early diagnosis and treatment, Gastric Dilation Volvulus in dogs is fatal in between 10% and 30% of diagnosed cases.
Bloat is a potentially serious – and deadly – condition. If you have suspicions that your furry friend is suffering from it, seek medical advice immediately.
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Food Bloat in Dogs: Treatment
Treatment for bloating in dogs will depend on how advanced it is. If the bloating is just that – bloating – gas elimination approaches will be used to get the excess air out and reduce the size of the enlarged stomach. Sometimes, this can be as simple as a walk in the park to help move some of the gas out of the body.
This will sometimes require a hospital stay, with IV-delivered fluids. This is to make sure your pooch doesn’t go into shock and to treat it quickly if they do. The condition can also be painful, so strong medication for pain relief may be administered.
If bloating has progressed to a twist in the stomach (a volvulus), the condition is considerably more serious and will require intensive treatment.
In severe cases, GDV will require emergency surgery to remove the high levels of air in the stomach and untwist the organ.
In less severe cases, the gas can be removed without the need for surgical procedures.
Your vet will recommend the right treatment approach for your cherished companion. A lot of things will be taken into account, including your dog’s age, existing medical condition, the severity of the condition, and more.
How to Prevent Bloat in Dogs
There are active measures you can put in place to try and prevent your precious pup from having to suffer from bloat. For the most part, they are simple changes, but there are also surgical procedures that can prevent bloat permanently.
1: Check Your Pup’s Bowls
Are they on the ground? Or are they resting in a cute little stand, slightly raised up from the floor?
The latter can actually cause bloat in dogs, because of the angle of the dog’s intestines and other organs when they are eating from a raised dish or bowl.
Switch out raised food and water bowls for ones that sit directly on the floor to ease your doggo’s digestion.
2: Check Your Dog’s Feeding Schedule
How many times a day do you feed your dog? Once? Twice? Three times?
If you have a larger dog, you should feed them little and often, rather than one massive meal per day. You should aim to split the meals into at least two separate ones – breakfast and dinner, for example. Three meals would be better – breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Feeding your dog one massive deal every day is forcing the stomach to get really, really big, then get smaller again, increasing the chances of them experiencing bloat.
Small, more frequent meals are much better. (But always check with your vet before making drastic changes to your furry friend’s diet!)
3: Feed in a Textured Bowl
Textured dog feeding bowls, sometimes called bloat bowls for dogs, tend to have lumps and humps and soft spikes in the bottom, designed to slow down doggy feeding.
Wolfing food down increases air intake, causing a bloating stomach. Slowing down the rate at which your dog eats using an anti-bloat dog bowl can reduce the amount of gas they intake, which reduces the risks of Gastric Dilation and Volvulus.
4: Reduce Post-Feed Exercise
Exercising too soon after eating can cause bloat, and then a volvulus. You should always wait at least one hour after feeding your pup before taking them out for a walk/exercise.
5: Change From High-Fat Dry Food
Some types of high-fat dry food for dogs are linked to a higher risk of bloat and Gastric Dilation-Volvulus. If your dog has already been diagnosed and treated for bloat once, it is worth switching their diet to a combination wet-and-dry one, or one with lower fat levels.
My dog is bloated but still pooping – do I need to worry?
Bloat can quickly become deadly to dogs, so it is best to worry a little bit when you notice your doggo has bloat. A quick check-over from your vet will put your mind at ease, or it will kick-start a treatment plan that will get your pup back to tip-top health.
Baking soda for dog bloat: will it work?
Home remedies, such as baking soda, are ill-advised for a dog suffering from bloat. The condition can be fatal when not treated. All the while you are using home remedies and holistic approaches to pet care, your dog’s bloat could potentially be getting worse.
Will a dog with bloat still want to eat?
Some dogs with bloat will still want to eat because they are food-orientated. They will do virtually anything for treats. However, bloat in dogs is quite painful. Once the dog associates the pain with food, it is likely that they’ll stop eating. You may also notice that they are eating considerably less than usual.
Can a dog with bloat vomit?
A dog with bloat can still vomit, but a dog with volvulus (twisted stomach) cannot. There are always rare exceptions to those rules, of course. When the stomach is completely twisted, matter struggles and fails to get in or out – food, vomit, waste material, etc.