Bloat In Dogs

By Kevin Myers | 2023 Update

What is Bloat

Bloat is the common name for Gastric Dilation Volvulus or GDV. It is the number two killer of dogs behind cancer and is definitely a veterinary emergency. During bloat, the stomach swells (distends) with gas and fluid and then twists. This blocks the dogs ability to belch or vomit to relieve the pressure building within its stomach and can impair blood flow causing necrosis in the stomach wall.

What Causes Bloat?

The precise cause of bloat is not really known. Exercise immediately following or preceding a meal can be a factor . Eating from an elevated dish is also considered a possible contributing factor along with genetic predisposition, age, water consumption, and many others.

Who’s at Risk?

Bloat can happen to any dog at any age but normally occurs in middle age to older dogs. Large breeds with deep chest are more predisposed. If your dog is a purebred, ask your breeder if there is a family history.

Dog at Higher Risk

  • St. Bernard
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Collie
  • Bloodhound
  • Standard Poodle
  • Great Pyrenees
  • Boxer
  • Weimaraner
  • Old English Sheepdog
  • Irish Setter
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Basset Hounds
  • Dachshunds
  • Great Dane
  • German Shepherd

Steps to Help Avoid Bloat

  • Keep the food bowl on the ground.
  • Divide the daily ration into three or four meals spaced apart.
  • Avoid the preservative, citric acid.
  • Use swimming pool rules. No water for an hour each side of a meal.
  • Don’t play with, or allow your dog to play on a full stomach.
  • Don’t let your dog guzzle at the water bowl.
  • Avoid dry food that has fat listed among the first four ingredients.

Signs of Bloat

Bloat can be hard to recognize. Especially if you have never seen it before or it is in the very early stages. Typical signs include…

  • Restlessness
  • Salivating
  • Pacing
  • Retching
  • Attempts to vomit with no results.

In addition, the dog’s belly may appear tight or swollen; the dog may whine or groan when you press its belly.

The following video show an Akita in the mid to late stages of bloat. The owners had never seen bloat before and were not aware of the seriousness of the situation. While difficult to watch, this video is invaluable to us as dog lovers in identifying bloat. The condition was caught in time and the dog did recover.


This page is by no means completely authoratative and is meant to act as general information on bloat. As always, if you suspect your dog is in medical distress, consult your veterinarian immediately.

Other Resources on Bloat

If you know of another good resource for bloat in dogs or have other information that you think should be included in this artilce, please leave a comment with the information and we will be happy to include all relevant info.


Blogger Jana Rade over at Dawg Business points out in her recent article, Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus (GDV): What Did The Latest Study Reveal?, that concrete preventative measures may be harder to pin down than previously thought. I don’t necessarily agree with the way the study was conducted, but the article is well worth the read and is worth considering.