What is bloat and why do we need to know about it?

Bloat (Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV)) is a life-threatening condition for dogs which involves the stomach and can quickly lead to bodily shock if left untreated.

The stomach fills with gas and twists which cuts off the blood supply to the gut and prevents any gas or food from exiting the coming out. Bloat can also twist the spleen and cut off supply to major veins that transport blood to the heart.

The condition can be dangerously painful for dogs and can kill within a matter of hours which is why it’s so important that owners know the signs so you can get immediate vet care.

Are some dogs more likely to get bloat?

Bloat can affect any breed, but it’s proven that larger dogs with deep chests are more susceptible.

The causes are largely unknown but there a few things which you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy. Vets recommended feeding your dog little and often as well as sticking to food with low fat contents. It’s also advisable to avoid strenuous exercise after feeding. Eating rapidly can also be a cause for bloat, so it’s a good idea to consider using a slow feeding bowl if your dog is a fast eater.

How could my dog get bloat?

Vets believe there are two likely causes - anxiety and diet.


Animals (as well as humans) usually swallow more air when they’re anxious. This is known as aerophagia (literally "eating air") and is usually seen in stressed, kennelled dogs. The constant intake of air causes the stomach to balloon in size, which changes the abdomen's normal organ layout.


If dogs are moved onto very fermentable foodstuffs that produce gas at abnormal rates, the stomach can struggle and not deal with the gas efficiently by burping or passing it into the intestines.

What are the symptoms of bloat in dogs?

Retching from the throat producing frothy mucus
Swollen and hard belly
Trouble defaecating
Pain in the abdomen when touched

What should I do if I think my dog has bloat?

If you think your beloved pooch may be suffering with bloat, Take them to the vets immediately. The chance of survival decreases if urgent Veterinary care is not given within the first 60-90 minutes after the first signs.

How is bloat treated?

Once at the vets, a quick scan may be done to determine if your dog is suffering with bloat as it can present the same symptoms as other medical emergencies. Once it’s confirmed, the vet will begin by releasing the build-up of gas and air inside the stomach. This is to stop the tissue in the stomach from dying and to take pressure off surrounding organs.

At this point, your dog will then be given intravenous fluids which will reverse the shock and slow down the heart rate to prevent heart failure. If your dog is in a stable condition after receiving the initial treatment, the vet will then go on to perform surgery to correct the damage made to the stomach.

Reece Hussain