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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Anderson - K9 Hydrotherapist

What is Bloat in a dog?

Bloat, also known as Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when a dog's stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid and then twists. This twisting cuts off the blood supply to the stomach and other organs, leading to shock and, if not treated quickly, death.

Why are we doing a blog on this? Although any dog could suffer from this, there are known breeds that are a lot more susceptible to the condition, and if you have one of these breeds it's worth reading this to know what it is, how to respond and to realise the urgency to get medical help to save your dog.

Certain dog breeds are more prone to bloat, particularly those with deep chests and large bodies. These breeds are predisposed due to their body structure and genetics.

We list below some of the breeds that are at a higher risk:

1. Great Dane

2. German Shepherd

3. Standard Poodle

4. Irish Setter

5. Weimaraner

6. Saint Bernard

7. Boxer

8. Doberman Pinscher

9. Golden Retriever

10. Labrador Retriever

11. Old English Sheepdog

12. Akita

13. Bloodhound

14. Bernese Mountain Dog

15. Mastiff

16. Newfoundland

17. Gordon Setter

18. Collie

19. Rottweiler

20. Irish Wolfhound

Prevention of Bloat

Preventing bloat involves several strategies aimed at reducing the risk factors associated with the condition, although none are known to be an accurate prevention, it is best to try to adhere to all of the below to minimise the risk:

Feeding Practices:

- Feed smaller, more frequent meals instead of one or two large meals per day.

- Avoid feeding your dog immediately before or after vigorous exercise or play, we recommend at least one-hour minimum before or after eating before exercise or play.

- Use slow-feed bowls to prevent your dog from eating too quickly.


- Avoid feeding your dog a diet that is high in fat or includes ingredients that can ferment quickly, such as soy.

- Provide a balanced diet with appropriate portions of dry and wet food. We always recommend a raw diet if manageable over kibble or dog biscuit.


- Ensure your dog has access to fresh water at all times but avoid large water intake immediately after meals.

- Encourage a calm environment during feeding times to reduce stress.

Preventive Surgery:

- In high-risk breeds, preventive surgery called gastropexy can be performed. This procedure attaches the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent it from twisting.

What are the Symptoms of Bloat?

Recognising the symptoms of bloat early is critical for prompt treatment. Symptoms include:

- Distended Abdomen: The dog’s stomach appears swollen and hard.

- Restlessness: The dog may act agitated, unable to find a comfortable position and be pacing back and forth.

- Drooling: Excessive drooling is common, the drool will be stickier than normal slobber.

- Unsuccessful vomiting: The dog attempts to vomit but nothing comes up, they will keep trying to vomit to no avail.

- Pain: The dog may show signs of abdominal pain, such as whining, whimpering, or arching their back.

- Rapid Heart Rate: An elevated heart rate can be a sign of distress.

- Weakness or Collapse: In severe cases, the dog may become weak or collapse.

How to Handle Bloat

If you suspect your dog has bloat, it’s an emergency situation, do not delay even if you are unsure if it is bloat or not, it's best to be safe than sorry. Follow these steps:

1. Immediate Veterinary Care:

- Take your dog to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic immediately. Bloat requires urgent medical attention. Call the veterinary clinic on route, and ensure they are equipped and experienced to deal with a bloat, if not then call the next veterinary clinic.

2. Minimise Movement:

- Try to keep your dog as calm and still as possible during transport to the vet to prevent further twisting of the stomach.

3. Do Not Attempt Home Treatment:

- Bloat is a medical emergency that cannot be treated at home. Do not give your dog food, water, or any medications.


Bloat in dogs is a serious condition that requires immediate attention. By implementing preventive measures, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking prompt veterinary care, you can help protect your dog from the dangers of bloat. Always consult with your veterinarian about the best practices for feeding and caring for your specific breed, especially if they are at higher risk for GDV.

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