Bloat In Dogs

Vet Reviewed

By Hungry Bark | December 30, 2020

If you have a large dog, you may have heard warnings about watching for bloat. This is a common and terrifying condition. While it can affect any dog, large breeds like Great Danes, German Shepherds, Doberman, and Weimaraners are at a much greater risk of developing bloat.

While you may have heard of bloat, you may not be aware of what it really means in dogs or the complications that can occur from it. Bloat can be treated if caught quickly, but if you do not recognize the symptoms and seek treatment for your dog right away, the prognosis is poor.

Keep reading to learn more about bloat and its signs and symptoms. If you know what to look for, you will be ready if your dog, unfortunately, develops this deadly condition.

What is bloat?

While the exact cause of bloat is still not known, bloat is a condition that occurs suddenly. Your dog’s stomach fills with gas or fluid and it begins to expand. This expansion puts pressure on other organs.

In many cases, bloat is accompanied by a condition called Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, or GDV. This is also known as twisted stomach. When this happens, the stomach flips over itself, cutting off blood supply to the other organs. This can cause your dog to go into shock.

Left untreated, this condition will result in death.

Symptoms Of A Bloated Dog

Bloat occurs quickly. If your dog suddenly develops any of the following symptoms, seek immediate veterinary attention.

  • Salivation
  • Restlessness
  • Retching (appearing to try to vomit but producing nothing)
  • Hard, painful, distended belly
  • Anxiety
  • Pale gums
  • Weakness
  • Collapse

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Treating Bloat

Treatment for bloat must be quick. There is absolutely no home treatment for bloat. A dog suffering from bloat must be treated by a veterinarian. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the more likely your dog is to suffer a negative outcome.

Your dog’s veterinarian may try to get imaging first to see the extent of the gastric torsion. Their main concern is removing the pressure from the stomach to reduce pressure on the organs. They often do this by inserting a large needle into the dog’s abdomen to remove the trapped air.

Your dog will be treated for shock, with fluids and then will be taken to surgery. During surgery, air will be drained from the stomach, and your dog’s stomach will be placed back in position. If any of the stomach has been damaged, those portions will need to be removed.

A procedure called a gastropexy will be done. During this, the stomach is tacked to the abdominal wall to prevent twisting from happening again. If the gastropexy is not done, 90% of dogs who have suffered from GVD will develop it again. Bloat can still occur even with gastropexy, but torsion will not occur.

Preventing Bloat

Without knowing the exact cause of bloat, it’s difficult to prevent it. There are some things that have been shown to correlate with occurrences of bloat, but unfortunately, there is still no answer as to exactly why it happens.

The old advice of raising your dog’s food off the floor has proven ineffective. Keeping your dogs dish on the floor is equally unsuccessful at preventing bloat. You will see arguments for and against both, but the truth is, there is no definitive answer either way.

There may be some correlation between a fast-eating dog and a dog that develops bloat. This is especially true of dogs that are fed in a stressful group situation where they feel they are competing for food. Aggressive or fearful dogs are also more likely to develop bloat.

Dogs that eat one large meal a day are more likely to develop bloat as are dogs that exercise vigorously immediately after eating. Studies have shown that dogs that eat a diet that has fat among the first four ingredients have a higher incidence of bloat.

Bloat and GDV also seem to have a genetic component. Dogs with a parent that developed bloat are also more likely to develop it.

Large breed, older, male dogs are those at the highest risk of developing bloat or GDV. Specifically, Great Danes are the dogs at the highest risk of developing bloat.

You can take some steps to mitigate the risk of bloat and GDV in your dog by remembering these guidelines:

  • Feed your dog several small meals throughout the day instead of one large one.


  • Prevent your dog from vigorous exercise immediately before and after eating.


  • If your dog is a fast eater, try a bowl or feeder meant to slow their consumption.


  • Separate dogs during meal times to prevent aggressive behavior.


  • Read the dog food label to make sure fat is not one of the top four ingredients.


  • Try to reduce stress in your dog, and manage their anxiety.


  • Talk to your veterinarian about a preventative gastropexy if your dog has multiple risk factors. This is usually done under anesthesia when you take your dog to be spayed or neutered.


  • There are studies that suggest that dog food with a high calcium meat meal as one of the first ingredients can decrease the risk of bloat.

Hungry Bark recipes can’t prevent bloat in your dog. However, all recipes are made without fat as one of the first four ingredients meaning they won’t contribute to the risk factors. Instead of fat, all recipes have high-quality meat and meat meal as the first ingredients.

Hungry Bark also offers a Chill Chew among their line of supplement chews. This chew was developed to help soothe anxious dogs.

Hungry Bark food and supplements were made with your dog’s total health in mind. Hungry Bark recipes provide balanced nutrition using only the best, fresh ingredients.

While nothing can certainly prevent bloat, a high-quality food like Hungry Bark’s can help reduce some of the risk factors and lower your anxiety about your beloved pet developing bloat.

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