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Dog Bloat: How to Protect Your Pup

Dog bloat is a common condition that can be dangerous, even deadly. Dogs who have it need treatment right away. Know the signs so you can recognize when your pup needs help.

What Is Dog Bloat?

Bloat happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand. The stomach puts pressure on other organs. It can cause dangerous problems, including:

  • No blood flow to his heart and stomach lining
  • A tear in the wall of his stomach
  • A harder time breathing

In some cases, the dog’s stomach will rotate or twist, a condition that vets call gastric dilatation volvulus. It traps blood in the stomach and blocks it from returning to the heart and other areas of the body. This can send your dog into shock.


Bloat usually comes on very quickly. At first, your dog may show signs that his stomach hurts. He may:

  • Act restless
  • Drool
  • Have a swollen stomach
  • Look anxious
  • Look at his stomach
  • Pace
  • Try to vomit, but nothing comes up

As the condition gets worse, he may:

  • Collapse
  • Have pale gums
  • Have a rapid heartbeat
  • Be short of breath
  • Feel weak

If you think your pet has bloat, get him to a clinic right away. If dogs don’t get treatment in time, the condition can kill them.


Vets aren’t sure what causes bloat, but there are some things that raise a dog’s risk for it, including:

  • Eating from a raised food bowl
  • Having one large meal a day
  • Eating quickly
  • A lot of running or playing after he eats
  • Other dogs he’s related to have had bloat
  • Eating or drinking too much
  • Stress

Any dog can have bloat, but it’s much more common in deep-chested, large breeds, like Akitas, Boxers, Bassett Hounds, and German Shepherds. Some are at a higher risk than others, including Great Danes, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters, Weimaraners, and St. Bernards.


The type of treatment a dog gets depends on how severe his condition is.

First, the vet will put a tube into your dog’s throat and down to his stomach to release the pressure that has built up. Sometimes, a twisted stomach can keep the tube from passing through. If that’s the case, the vet will put a large, hollow needle through his belly into his stomach and release the pressure that way.

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