The Canine Bloat Information Resource

Canine bloat (GDV – Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus) is one of the most serious ailments a dog can have and it requires immediate care. It is not a bad idea to have a gas-reducing product on hand to buy some time, something that contains simethicone. While no one is certain what causes bloat to occur in some dogs and not others, science has some ideas, but has never been able to prove them. There are however contributing factors to GDV. Dry food that is high in grain content can cause fermentation, which causes gas. It is important to use food with a higher percentage of meat than grain, and if there is more grain, keep the food dry and do not wet it, as it is so absorbent. It has also been suggested that two smaller servings of food a day is better than one large meal. Always wait to feed your dog before or after a lot of exercise, an hour should be sufficient. When eating it is best to keep the water bowl put up, as the combination of the two tends to lead the dog to gulp. Be sure however to return the water right after the meal. If you use canned food, try to mix it with dry food when possible and avoid food with high citric acid levels or foods that are high in fat, neither is it good for your pet. Snacks/treats that are high in carbohydrates can be an issue as well.

Some breeds seem to be more susceptible to bloat than others, it is especially noticeable but not limited to large breeds such as rottweilers, labs, dobermans, shepherds and retrievers. There is a chance that GDV is also inherited from previous generations, so learn the history of your pet if possible. Also, look for skinny or underweight dogs, as they may be susceptible, as are dogs that are always scared, so anxious pets should be fed in an area in which they feel safe. Canine bloat seems to occur more often in aggressive dogs; more so in males than females and older than young dogs. There is debate over whether gastropexy surgery is a good pre-onset solution for dogs at risk. While there is debate over the exact causes of Bloat, many people feel that it is not genetic, but systemic. They believe it is due to a pH imbalance, yeast, or due to stress and beccause of this choose not to do preemptive surgery, especially in breeding dogs. If surgery is needed, laparoscopic gastropexy seems least invasive. The surgery basically tacks the right side of the stomach to the right side of the body wall to make it unable to expand with gas.

It is important to know what to look for when it comes to Bloat. Symptoms that surface early in the onset of bloat may be seen as changes in behavior, but there will also be visual clues, for instance a dog that doesn’t want to lie down, has a rounded stomach that feels hard, and may whimper due to discomfort. The dog will likely also be nauseated and gag as if trying to throw up, even though they do not. The dog may also drool uncharacteristically and try unsuccessfully to have bowel. It is very important to contact your vet if your pet is experiencing these symptoms. Expect your veterinarian to try to put a tube down the dog’s throat to expel the gases and if that doesn’t work due to other stomach issues, surgery will be required. Either way, a gastropexy surgery would be recommended.

  • Canine Bloat Info Center – All about canine bloat. What is it? What causes it? What are the risks and breeds that are most susceptible.
  • Canadian Veterinary Journal – Information on recurrent canine gastric dilation corrected by gastropexy and pyloroplasty.
  • Bloat In Dogs – Article on symptoms, causes, prevention, and risk factors, also includes links.
  • Republished Bloat Article – 1994 canine bloat article from the Morris Animal Foundation.
  • Bloat First Aid – This is a useful page that covers emergency first aid for bloat, what to have on hand and other general information. Also includes sketches to make it easy to follow.
  • Risk Factors for Canine Bloat -This article details several of the risk factors associated with canine bloat along with possible treatment options.
  • Bloat Information Page – Provided by the Mar Vista Animal Medical Center this page details the causes of bloat and gives detailed information on what must be done as treatment.
  • Bloat, Torsion and other Gastric Problems – General explanations and warnings on bloat, but also includes a section concerning a recent Purdue study.
  • Bloat and Diet – An interesting article about bloat and your dogs diet.
  • Poodle Specific Bloat Information -This is an article called: Bloat Facts in Standard Poodles: A Review of Articles I Have Read.
  • Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus – An informational page including percentages of fatalities from bloating disease.
  • Gastric Dilatation Surgery – Information on the disease, along with a lateral radiograph of a dog with a gastric volvulus, differential diagnosis, complications and aftercare.
  • Emergency Medical Information – A learning page on Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Tina B September 7, 2012 at 9:18 am


My male Lab pup started bloating after he received his final series of shots and was neutered at 4 months. He suffered GDV and had a gastropexy performed in Feb 2009 when he was 6 months old. I saw him go down (when his stomach actually rotated) and we were at the vet within 10 minutes. He recovered beautifully from surgery, with no complications whatsoever. Yes, he still bloated after surgery, but, of course, his stomach couldn’t rotate…and there was no need to rush to the vet if he did bloat.

It was many months of trying to figure out the best plan of care for him. In the end, it was a premium food (Blue Buffalo Wilderness or Precise Holistic) with no corn, wheat or soy and extremely limiting foods that can ferment or cause additional gas (think potatoe, rice, barley, etc), and we added probiotics and enzymes to his daily diet. We also had cold laser treatments performed on him by a holistic vet, and that seemed to correct most of his issues.

Some three years out, he is 95% well. He can go several months without bloating/puffing up…and then he’ll have a few days of runny stools and a puffy stomach. When this happens, we give him pumpkin puree for the stools and we “burp” him to relieve the gas in his stomach (either by gently patting his stomach or using his accupressure point on his knee). He can even burp himself by laying calm and relaxing. Even during these icky days, these issues DO NOT effect his daily activities whatsoever.

We don’t cage him when we leave the house, or restrict his daily activities. He runs and plays and chases the rest of the dogs in the house. He is happy and full of energy. He has a healthy appetite, maintains a very good weight and has no other health issues. When we play ball in the back yard, we limit the play to 30-45 minutes so he doesn’t get too over-winded…too be honest, we live in Florida and I’m more worried about heat stroke during playtime than his bloating issues.

It should be noted, we are still trying to stop the bloating from occuring at all…it’s a trial and error process. I’m always willing to investigate new ideas for prevention.

I’m so sorry for the loss of your beloved border collie. It’s certainly a tough call to make at the vet’s office when your pet is in distress.

Blessings, Tina
tinab158 at hotmail dot com

Paulette Freeman February 19, 2012 at 10:39 am

I just had my 6 year old border collie mix put to sleep at our local emergency vet clinic. He bloated in the middle of the night. We rushed him there and xrays showed that his stomach had twisted also. We were given an option of emergency surgery or euthanasia. We were told that even with the surgery, they could not guarantee that he would not bloat again and they said he would have to be restricted physically for the rest of his life…no running free in our back yard, leash walks only, no going up and down stairs, restricted from running and pacing. They suggested that he be crated during the day while we’re at work. We chose euthanasia because he is a very hyper-active dog and restraining him would be difficult and not the life he’d like. In addition, he had double hip dysplasia which any weight gain would effect. Were we advised correctly? Nothing on-line indicates these restrictions after surgery. I’m heart broken. Thanks.

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