How to Detect and Manage Dog Bloat

Ask Dr. Carol, Dogs, Emergencies, The Digestive System Add comments

Dog Bloat is also referred to as Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, stomach torsion and twisted stomach.

This is a true life threatening situation usually affecting deep chested, large breed dogs. After eating, the stomach fills with gas and dogs appear to be bloated. The bloated stomach may or may not turn over or twist upon itself blocking the entrance to and the exit from the stomach.

Once the stomach is twisted it puts pressure on the veins in the abdomen which reduces blood flow. Without emergency treatment, shock ensues, which can lead to death within a matter of hours. With emergency canine surgery nearly 50 percent of cases involving a twisted stomach are still fatal.

Causes of Dog Bloat

Although the exact cause remains unknown, predisposing risk factors for dog bloat remain clear.

Large breed, deep chested, middle age dogs are at highest risk based on their anatomy.

Eating quickly

Eating one large meal daily

Dry food only diet

Exercise after eating

Fearful temperament

Easily stressed

Abnormal stomach motility

Signs of Dog Bloat


*Attempts to belch or vomit at 5-30 minute intervals. This is the hallmark sign.

Distended Abdomen

Retching with no results

Salivating excessively


Rapid, Shallow Breathing

Pale gums

Rapid heart rate



Dog Breeds at High Risk: Breeds with the highest chest depth to width ratio are most prone.

Great Danes


German Shepherds

Irish Setters

Gordon Setters

Standard Poodles


Saint Bernard’s

What Your Vet Can do for Dog Bloat

Generally based on signs and history, most vets vet will immediately attempt to pass a stomach tube down your dog’s esophagus. If the stomach is filled with gas but not twisted, gas and fluid will be released through the stomach tube which will relieve the problem completely.

If the stomach tube will not properly pass, then your vet may take an x-ray of your dogs abdomen to validate the stomach twist then prepare for emergency surgery.

The vet will untwist the stomach and in most cases to try to prevent the twist from recurring by tacking or suturing a piece of the stomach to the abdominal wall. This procedure is called a Gastropexy.

What Pet Owners Can do to Prevent Dog Bloat

Feed your dog several small meals daily and avoid feeding once a day large meals to help slow down your dogs eating time

Consider an Iakiou Slow Dog Bowl designed specifically to slow down canine eating time 

Feed 2-3 small meals daily

Avoid water one hour before and after meals

Do not feed your dog using a raised bowl unless advised to do so by your vet

Avoid dry food only diets as most are high ingrain which increases gas production in the stomach

Provide fresh water at all times to discourage gulping water

Add a little canned food to your dog’s diet. Canned food tends to be higher in meat than dry food and less likely to contribute to gas formation.

Choose a dry dog food that lists meat as the first ingredient and has no carbohydrates listed in the top 4 ingredients.

Do not allow your dog to run or exercise one hour before or after meals.

Feed a high quality protein diet

Reduce carbohydrates as much as possible to help avoid excessive gas formation. Remember dog treats and biscuits are generally very high in carbohydrates

Feed at least three percent fiber or add fresh vegetable to your dog’s diet as a source of fiber

Be sure you add comprehensive canine digestive enzymes to your dog’s diet

Avoid Brewer’s yeast, alfalfa and soybean products

Promote friendly bacteria in your dog’s intestine’s by adding a daily canine probiotic supplement for example, acidophilus and/ or lactobacillus.

TIP: By adding probiotics you are helping to avoid carbohydrate fermentation which once again leads to gas formation. This is especially important for dogs on antibiotics.

TIP: Antibiotics tend to reduce levels of “friendly bacteria” in your dog’s intestines so if your dog needs both be sure to give canine probiotics at least a few hours apart from the antibiotics so they will not be destroyed.

Most importantly really get to know your dog as well as possible so you are able to distinguish normal from abnormal and can detect medical problems quickly.

Pet Home Remedies for Canine Gas Relief

Keep a product with Simethicone on hand. For example Mylanta Gas, Phazyme or Gas X. TIP: Mylanta is not the same as Mylanta Gas.

If you see your dog’s stomach distending and are able to help reduce or slow down the rate of gas you will likely buy yourself a bit more time to get to your vet.

Some vets recommend giving Simethicone immediately if your dog burps more than once or shows other signs of excess gas.

Spices for Canine Gas Relief: Nutmeg dosed at one-half teaspoon and given by mouth

Homeopathic Dog Gas Relief Remedy: Nux mochata 30X

About Dr. Carol

Dr. Carol is a pet health researcher, a Board Certified Anti-Aging Pet Health Diplomat, a published author and a practicing, holistic veterinarian in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

She welcomes new canine and feline patients.

Dr. Carol also offers pet health consultations and answers pet health questions and makes homemade pet diets by phone and e-mail for her online pet loving community.

Pet owners may contact Dr. Carol directly at her veterinary office toll free at 1-866-372-2765 to make an appointment for their dog(s) and/or cat(s) today.

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