Bloat in Dogs

Bloat occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with fluid or gas. This life-threatening condition (known as GDV – gastric dilatation-volvulus) causes gastric torsion and can lead to a twisted stomach and can be fatal.

It is more common in middle-aged to older dogs though can happen to any dog. Deep chested, larger dogs are anatomically predisposed, hence more susceptible to bloat. Bloat is a very serious, life threatening emergency. If you suspect bloat, you should seek veterinary attention immediately!

What can trigger it?

    • When a dog has rapidly eaten a large meal
    • If they drink a large amount of water immediately after eating
    • If they have been vigorously exercised before or after eating
    • If your dog feeds from a raised dinner bowl
    • Oils or fats should not appear in the top 4 ingredients of their dry food
    • Feeding your dog one daily is also a contributing factor as it can lead to the dog
    • swallowing more air as they eat

How to help prevent bloat…

    • A resting period before or after eating of around an hour is advisable
    • Once-daily feeding is not recommended for these deep-chested dogs, but smaller amounts 3-4 times a day
    • A slow-feeding dog bowl or puzzle toy to slow down consumption is advised
    • Also buying larger kibble (over 3cm long) slows eating as they must bite down before swallowing
    • Never elevate the food bowl, keep it on the floor
    • Keep foods containing citric acid out of their diet
    • Do not feed a high fat diet

Breeds with higher risk:

  • German Shepherd
  • Labrador
  • Rottweiler
  • Great Dane
  • Retriever
  • Newfoundland
  • Collie
  • St. Bernard
  • Basset hound (smaller breed)
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Doberman
  • Dachshund (smaller breed)
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Bloodhound
  • Afghan
  • Boxer
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Standard Poodle
  • Weimaraner
  • Akita
  • Irish Setter
  • Alaskan Malamute


Early Symptoms (shock)… Tight abdomen, head hanging, lethargic, looking uncomfortable
Late symptoms (shock)… Pale gums and tongue, weak pulse, laboured breathing, weakness, collapsing Symptoms of bloat… Attempting to vomit without success, excess saliva, pacing, refusing to eat or play, restlessness, distended/swollen abdomen which is uncomfortable to be touched.