Bloat in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention
Bloat in Dogs: Symptoms, Causes, Treatment & Prevention

Signs & Symptoms Of Bloat In Dogs & Its Prevention

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Bloat can affect any dog; however, it is observed in deep-chested, larger breeds more frequently than in others. Unfortunately, you will find that many dog owners are completely unaware of this ailment until it starts to endanger their pet’s life.

Bloat can affect any dog; however, it is observed in deep-chested, larger breeds more frequently than in others. Unfortunately, you will find that many dog owners are completely unaware of this ailment until it starts to endanger their pet’s life. Therefore, all pet owners should be aware of bloat and how to spot and respond to symptoms of bloat in dogs. So, here’s all you need to know about bloating in dogs.


What is bloat in dogs?

Bloat is a life-threatening condition that acts rapidly and can lead to death within hours if not recognised and treated immediately. Unfortunately, the cause of bloat remains unknown at this time.

The scientific term for bloat is gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV. Bloat is characterised by rapid and abnormal expansion of the stomach with gas (dilatation). This can be followed by rotation of the stomach (volvulus). This rotation closes both the entry to and exit from the stomach. The blood vessels also are closed, and the blood flow is restricted.

What follows is an increase in pressure inside the stomach and compression of the surrounding organs. Eventually, shock will occur as a result of the restricted blood flow. Here are a few key facts about bloat:

  • Bloat should always be treated as a medical emergency.
  • Bloat can kill a dog within hours after onset.
  • The cause of bloat is unknown.
  • Bloat can occur in dogs of all age groups.
  • Certain breeds are more susceptible to bloat, particularly deep-chested dogs.
  • The stomach rapidly expands with gas then rotates on the long axis. Entry to and exit from the stomach is prohibited, causing blood vessels to close and restriction of blood flow.

Symptoms of bloat in dogs

Bloat is a true medical emergency, and early identification and treatment is critical for survival.

In the early stages of bloat, the dog will be very uncomfortable. You might see it pacing and whining or trying unsuccessfully to get into a comfortable position. It might seem anxious, might lick, or keep staring at its stomach, and might attempt to vomit, without success.

Other indications of bloat can include weakness, swollen abdomen, and even signs of shock. Signs of shock are increased heart rate and abnormally rapid breathing.

 If you notice these signs of bloat in dogs, call your veterinarian immediately!

  • Whining
  • Inability to get comfortable
  • Pacing or restlessness
  • Pale gums
  • Unproductive attempts to vomit
  • Abnormally rapid breathing
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety
  • Pain, weakness
  • Swelling of the abdomen (particularly the left side)

Other symptoms of bloat in dogs include:

  • Enlargement of stomach:

    This occurs due to gas getting trapped in the stomach region.

  • Excess salivation:

    Gastrointestinal problems in dogs can cause excessive salivation, including esophageal diseases like megaesophagus.

  • Restless behavior:

    Pacing and restlessness are typical signs of bloating. Your dog may even groan or whine when you press on their belly.

  • Shorter breath:

    An abnormal swelling due to gas in your dog’s stomach can also cause respiratory distress along with a twisted belly.

  • Rapid heartbeat:

    Bloating can put strain on the diaphragm, a delicate muscle that divides the chest from the abdomen. This ends up making heartbeats shorter and breathing difficult.

Causes of bloated stomach in dogs 

Although veterinarians don't know what causes bloat in dogs, there are numerous factors that increase a dog's risk for this condition. These include: 

  • Having one large meal per day instead of eating frequent, smaller meals 
  • Overeating and drinking too quickly
  • Experiencing a tough and stressful situation, such as a boarding kennel or visits to the veterinarian
  • Excessive running or playing immediately after a meal

How to prevent bloat

These suggestions could help in preventing bloat in dogs. However, they are based on suspected risk factors and are not guaranteed to prevent the onset of bloat.

  • Feed small amounts of food frequently, two to three times daily.
  • Avoid exercise for one hour before and two hours after meals.
  • Don't let your dog drink large amounts of water just before or after eating or exercising.
  • If you have two or more dogs, feed them separately to avoid rapid, stressful eating.
  • If possible, feed at times when after-feeding behaviour can be observed.
  • Avoid abrupt diet changes.
  • If you see signs of bloat, call your veterinarian immediately.

Is bloating curable?

All cases of bloat in dogs require prompt medical intervention. The condition can be treated if it gets addressed quickly. In case of a simple bloat, where the dog's stomach has not twisted, the pet may be treated without any medication. They may be given fluids and certain therapies. If discovered in its early stages, other types of bloats such as GDV, may also be treatable. Surgical intervention may also be used for treatment in certain cases.

Other options to treat bloat in dogs 

Releasing the trapped air and gas will relieve pressure on the surrounding organs and prevent the stomach's tissue from degenerating. A tube and stomach pump can be used for this; however, surgery may be required on occasion. This can aid in stomach unwinding or curing GDV in dogs.

Additionally, electrolyte-fortified intravenous fluids are also administered to improve blood flow to vital organs. In many cases, this necessitates the use of potent painkillers, antibiotics, and medications to treat the decreased blood supply to the heart due to bloating.

As soon as the dog is steady, surgery is carried out. Your veterinarian may need to untwist the dog's stomach and remove any stomach wall tissue that might have died from a lack of blood supply. The veterinarian will also perform a treatment known as a gastropexy to suture the stomach to the body wall. As a result, the likelihood of the stomach rotating in the future decreases significantly; thus, preventing bloat in dogs.

Digestible foods

Another way you might help prevent bloat is by feed a high-quality, easily digestible food with normal fibre levels.

Feeding management offers the best method available for reducing risk until the exact cause of bloat can be identified. Although not 100% effective, these measures can reduce the number of dogs that face this serious, life-threatening condition.

IAMS™ dog food stands out as a superior and highly digestible choice for your furry companion.

High-risk breeds

  • German Shepherd
  • Bouvier de Flandres
  • Great Dane
  • Boxer
  • St. Bernard
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Bloodhound
  • German Shorthaired Pointer
  • Irish Setter
  • Gordon Setter
  • Borzoi
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Dachshund
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Basset Hound

If you're looking for the perfect dog for you, try our Dog Breed Selector today and enjoy a lifetime of tail-wagging joy.

Frequently asked questions about Signs and Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

  1. How do you help a dog with a bloated stomach?
  2. You can help a dog with a bloated stomach by administering intravenous fluids with electrolytes and pain relievers. This will lessen their pain and shock and possibly even protect important tissues from dying due to the loss of blood flow.


  3. Why is my dog's belly bloated?
  4. Your dog’s belly may appear bloated due to gas being trapped in the stomach region. This may result in abdomen enlargement, thus blocking blood flow and impeding digestion.


  5. Can dog bloating resolve on its own?
  6. Dog bloat, also known as simple bloat, often happens and gets better on its own. Bloat without twisting can still be fatal, but the risk depends on how severe the condition is and how long it lasts.

  7. What are the first signs of bloat in a dog?
  8. Bloat usually occurs quickly and without any warning. A dog may pace, pant, drool, or even try to vomit without being able to throw up. Other typical dog bloating symptoms include anxiety and stomach discomfort. In extreme circumstances, dogs could pass out, have an accelerated heart rate, or even exhibit pale gums.


  9. How long does food bloat last in dogs?
  10. Food bloat in dogs usually does not last beyond 24 hours with vigorous hydration therapy and supportive care. However, be sure to take necessary precautions to prevent your dog from getting unauthorised food sources, and exercise caution the next time your pet overeats.


  • 3 reasons why animal-based protein might be better for your dog​
    3 reasons why animal-based protein might be better for your dog​
    3 reasons why animal-based protein might be better for your dog​

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    A balanced diet with high-quality protein is essential for your dog's optimal wellness.

    Author: Dr. Saza Curaming

    Dogs are semi-carnivores. They can be nourished by protein from animal sources, plant sources or a combination of both. Although dogs are often fed a plant-based diet, they are not herbivores. 

    The difference between animal-based protein and plant-based protein sources is that animal-based ones incorporate chicken, lamb, fish meal, and beef while plant-based protein sources include corn-gluten and soybean meal. 

    Similar to their carnivorous ancestors–wolves, coyotes, foxes, and jackals, the body structure of dogs is optimized for eating meat which is relatively easier for them to digest than a plant-based diet. 

    Even though dogs are semi-carnivores, it is important to not leave out animal-based proteins from their diet. Feeding our dogs meat-based products are closely related to their natural ancestral diet. There are three main reasons animal-based proteins are better suited for our furry friends than plant-based proteins.

    Not all proteins are created equal 

    Including protein in your pet dog’s diet serves several functions. For one, a high-quality protein food for dogs can provide amino acids. Amino acids play a key part in building hair, skin, nails, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Protein plays a key role in hormone and enzyme production.

    Amino acids are building blocks and are considered critical to our furry best friend. Different studies have shown that out of the 20 amino acids, 10 of these are called non-essential and can be made by your dog when they need it.


    Protein is crucial throughout a dog’s lifetime

    A dog’s need for amino acids will also change depending on age and condition. As dogs age, their body composition and muscle-specific proteins decline and for that reason, giving them protein in their meal helps them maintain a healthy body throughout the years.

    That said, it goes without saying that puppies require sufficient protein for growth. According to a study, a puppy's diet should consist of at least 22% protein. For an adult dog, 18% of protein should be incorporated into their everyday meal. 


    Protein a day, keeps doctors away

    Animal protein sources contain an average of 35% higher protein concentration. It contains higher doses of calcium, phosphorus, omega 6, methionine, cystine, and taurine. 

    While protein can be derived from plants, the canine digestive system typically has an easier time utilizing animal-sourced protein. Our dog's gastrointestinal tract is not designed to digest large amounts of plant-based products.

    To deliver a healthy balance of amino acids to support your dog's health and vitality, IAMS created a recipe that uses chicken as their number one ingredient and aids in maintaining healthy digestion, immune system, skin and coat, and even provides dental care support that is developed with veterinarians. 

    Ready to achieve your dog’s optimal health with an animal-based protein food? For more information about IAMS Dog, visit https://iams.asia/my/. IAMS Dog is available at all leading supermarkets and grocery stores nationwide.