Bloat in dogs is a very real, dangerous, and deadly condition for dogs. While it does affect some breeds more than others, all dogs can be at risk.
Please note, I’m Emma the GBGV, who plays a doctor on My GBGV Life from time to time, but I am not a real veterinarian. This post is written from my own knowledge and experiences. Please consult your own veterinarian to obtain the best information for you and your dog.
Mom’s first dog Trine was a hundred pound, Lab/Newfie mix. I’ll be honest, Mom was quite naive in 1994 when she brought Trine home from the shelter. She didn’t know about clipping nails, flea and tick treatment, how to train a dog, she had so many things to learn.
When they moved to Germany in 1997, it was the first time she had ever heard about bloat in dogs. That was the point where Mom started to be a bit more careful about feeding, drinking, and exercising Trine.
Years later when Mom moved to the North Sea Coast, she helped out her veterinarian friend, now and then, with emergencies. During this time, she helped with three cases of bloat, all three ended up being fatal. It was a real awakening for her! Ever since that time, she is very vigilant about doing her best to prevent bloat from happening to any of us.
Bailie’s dog mom, Chanel, recently passed away from bloat. We were shocked and saddened to get the news as she was only nine years old. We don’t know the circumstances of how it happened but it is a good reminder for my mom to stick to the rules which sometimes she bends. The photo was taken in 2015 when we visited some of Bailie’s family members on our way to Las Vegas.
What is bloat in dogs?
Bloat is a serious, often deadly condition that happens quickly. It happens when the stomach fills with air, causing pressure which slows or stops blood flow to the organs. In many cases, the stomach actually twists, which can also cause toxic hormones to be released from the pancreas. Once a dog has had bloat, it will be prone to having it again. If you suspect bloat you need to get to the veterinarian immediately. There is no firm timetable, but even an hour after bloat starts can be too long for the dog to survive. We know dogs who have survived, and dogs who have not. The chances are slightly better than 50/50 if you get to the veterinarian right away.
How does bloat happen?
There is no one sure cause for bloat. Breeds with deep narrow chests are at higher risk. Dogs who exercise right after eating, or drinking a lot are at higher risk. Feeding a dog one large meal a day increases risk. Hyperactive, nervous dogs are also at higher risk of having bloat. Multi dog families whose dogs are anxious at mealtime also have a higher risk. Males are twice as likely as females to have bloat.
What are the symptoms?
- The stomach area may begin to swell, and be tender when touched.
- Dogs often try to vomit, but are unable to.
- Gurgling noises coming from the stomach.
- Your dog becomes very nervous, and is not acting like normal.
- Excessive drooling, or slobbering.
- The dog may try to hide, but cannot get comfortable.
What can you do to reduce the risk?
- Keep your dog calm for at least an hour after eating a meal, or drinking a large amount of water. From day one on as puppies, we are taught to go to our beds after a meal and nap. Puppies want to play, but if you insist on them napping, they eventually will.
- Feed your dog in small portions of two to three meals a day rather than one large meal.
- If you feed your dog a high quality food, they will need less of the food, making portions smaller. Some of the inexpensive brands of food require more than double the amount of food per day, compared to a high quality food.
- A dog’s stomach can be tacked to the abdominal wall if the dog is at high risk for bloat, but that is not a 100% guarantee either. The dog still needs to follow the usual precautions.
- Dog’s whose family members have had bloat are also at higher risk, and one needs to be extra cautious.
- Remember, you are the caretaker for your pup. No matter how badly they may want to run or wrestle after a meal, remain vigilant with the resting rules. A quick romp is not worth dying over!
I’m a good girl who loves to have a nice nap after my meals. My sisters are great in the morning, but in the evening they seem to want to get wild after about half an hour. Mom will kennel them to keep them still if necessary. If you would like more information on bloat and your dog, consult with your veterinarian for the best advice.