Bloat in Dogs – How to minimize the risk of GDV



Bloat Is a Twisted Stomach

By Alice Gines

Bloat in dogs is considered the second cause of death in dogs after cancer. Bloat is also known as Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), “twisted stomach” or “stomach torsion.” No matter what you want to call it bloat is a very serious condition that needs immediate attention.

I became interested in this condition after my sons dog came down with it when they were visiting us one evening. Bailey is a big dog; he is part Rottweiler and Pit Bull and he is also a big baby and a worrywart. Bailey had all the symptoms of Bloat. I had my son call the emergency Vet that I took my dog Moebert to and explain what was happening and they said to bring him in ASAP.

Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

  • Significant anxiety and restlessness
  • Seeking a hiding place
  • Whining
  • Pacing
  • Heavy salivating or drooling
  • Foamy mucous around the lips, or vomiting foamy mucous
  • Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum)
  • Shallow breathing
  • Unproductive gagging
  • Unproductive attempts to defecate

The top ten breeds according to the University of Purdue:

  1. Great Dane
  2. Saint Bernard
  3. Weimaraner
  4. Irish Setter
  5. Gordon Setter
  6. Standard Poodle
  7. Basset Hound
  8. Doberman Pinscher
  9. Old English Sheepdog
  10. German Shorthaired Pointer

Bloat in dogs can be caused by a number reason such as:

It usually affects dogs of the larger, deeper-chested breeds (which means the length of their chest from backbone to sternum is rather long while the chest width from right to left is narrow) but all dogs can be at risk. There appears to be a genetic link to this disease. If both parents have deep and narrow chests, then it is likely that their offspring will have deep and narrow chests so they may also be at risk.

Eating Habits

  • Dogs fed once a day are twice as likely to develop GDV (bloat) as those fed twice a day.
  • It seems that dogs that eat quickly or exercise soon after a meal may also be at increased risk.
  • Dogs that drink water in large amounts after meals. Drinking too much water too quickly (can cause gulping of air)
  • Vigorous activities that result in gulping air
  • Eating gas-producing foods (especially soybean products, brewer’s yeast, and alfalfa)
  • Elevated food bowls some studies advise that dogs who are susceptible to bloat should not be fed with elevated food bowls; some studies have not found this to be true. However, it is recommended that dogs at risk be fed at floor level.

Age – Dogs over 7 years of age twice as likely to develop gastric bloat as those who are 2-4 years of age.

Gender – Male dogs are twice as likely to develop bloat as females. Neutering does not seem to have an effect on the risk.

TemperamentDogs that are stressed have a tendency to be more nervous, fearful, or worried appear to be at an increased risk of developing bloat.

So what is bloat in dogs? It is when the stomach fills up with air and then it puts pressure on the diaphragm which makes it difficult for the dog to breathe. The bloated stomach can also compress the large veins in the abdomen which can prevent blood from returning to the heart. When the stomach is filled with air it can easily rotate on itself that result causes the pinching off its own blood supply. When the blood supply is cut off the stomach begins to die and your pets condition begins to get worse very quickly because their entire blood supply has been interrupted.

Prevention While there is no clear-cut way to prevent bloat, the following tips may help.

  • Minimize the stress as much as possible. Try to make meals a peaceful, stress-free time
  • Do not use an elevated food bowl
  • Do not exercise for at least an hour before and especially after eating
  • Avoid vigorous exercise right before and after meals
  • Do not allow rapid eating. (There are bowls you can get to help with this.)
  • Feed 2 or 3 meals daily, instead of just one; do not let them drink too much water before and especially after eating.
  • Keeping a product with simethicone (for example Mylanta Gas (not regular Mylanta), Phazyme, or Gas-X, etc.) on hand to treat gas symptoms.
  • Naturally relieve gas symptoms with 1/2 tsp of nutmeg or the homeopathic remedy Nux moschata 30
  • Allow access to fresh water at all times, except before and after meals
  • Reduce carbohydrates as much as possible (classic in many commercial dog biscuits)
  • Feeding a premium dog food with a higher nutrient content which would allow you to feed smaller portions while still meeting your dog’s nutritional needs.
  • Feed adequate amount of fiber, Flax Seed is a good source of fiber you can just sprinkle on their food.
  • MOST Important know your dog, so when he or she is not acting like their normal self you can take the necessary steps to help them feel better.
  • Also know the phone number and where the nearest Animal Emergency Vet is because if your dog bloats your Veterinarian might not be available.

Have you seen the movie or read the book Marley and Me? This is what he died from, my daughter-in-law having done both was very upset about Bailey when he started showing all of symptoms and I don’t blame her it is very upsetting to see your pet in pain. Thankfully his trip to the emergency Vet turned out very well and he is doing fine.

They did not perform surgery on Marley they manually untwisted the stomach but in doing so one cannot know if any damage was done. It is suggested that all bloated dogs, once stable, should have surgery. That is the only way to know if the there is a section of dying tissue on the stomach wall, this must be removed or the dog will die Also, the spleen, which is located adjacent to the stomach may twist with the stomach. The spleen may require removal, too because that can also lead to other problems like causing a hemoabdomen which means bleeding into the stomach.

Once the stomach has been put back in place and if any damage corrected the vet can do a gastropexy which is a surgical operation in which the stomach is sutured to the abdominal wall. Some vets do this as a precaution when they are performing other operations on dogs that are at risk for bloat. Without gastropexy, the recurrence rate of bloat may be as high as 75%. If the stomach can be surgically tacked into place, the recurrence rate drops to 6% which are better odds to say the least.

Although I have summarized the information about the symptoms, causes, prevention, and the breeds that are at risk, please consult with your veterinarian for medical information.

If you suspect that your dog has bloat, time is of the essence because bloat can kill your pet if not addressed (asap) so call your veterinarian or emergency center and let them know that your dog has bloat symptoms and you are bring him in to be checked out.

To You and Your Pets Health,


My goal is to provide healthy alternatives for people and pets with natural health products and natural health solutions without harmful side effects and to also keep you up to date with all the news that is happening in your world as well as your pets when it comes to the latest product recalls or new items. Alice Gines, []

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