What is Bloat in Dogs and is it Preventable?

Posted by Nick Quaglia on

Bloat, or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, is a deadly condition in dogs that, if left untreated, is fatal. 

Unfortunately, bloat is a condition that is often not noticed by dog owners. So today, let's talk about the signs and help make more dog owners aware. Because if caught early, this is something that can be treated by a vet and it can save your dog's life. 

black and brown dog laying on hardwood floor

So what really is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus?

GDV (bloat), is when a dog's stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, and due to this, twists. This is something that can progress quickly, and develops without warning. In any case, this is an emergency that needs to be addressed immediately. 

Stomach distension itself is called "simple bloat" or also referred to as dilatation. 

Simple bloat can happen on its own, but too can resolve itself. Even without twisting, bloat can still be fatal for dogs, but the risk depends on the severity and the duration. 

While this condition is more common in larger dog breeds or dogs with deep chests, any breed is vulnerable to this possibility. 

When bloat begins to occur, your pup's stomach expands, or distends, then cutting off blood flow to the abdomen as well as the stomach itself. Once this happens, it could cause injury or death, of the stomach wall and if not treated, eventually other organs. Not only that, but bloat can also place pressure on your dog's diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, which will lead to trouble breathing. 

Severe cases of bloat is often seen as one of the most severe emergencies in veterinary medicine and is one of the most painful issues a dog can experience. In these types of cases, blood flow gets cut off to the stomach and lower half of the body. This then makes it impossible for food to pass into the intestine. Once again, if left untreated, your dog will die within hours of it developing. 

pug wrapped up in white blanked

How do I know if my dog has bloat?

You need to look for these symptoms. If they are checking these boxes, rush them to your local vet immediately. 

  • Pale gums
  • Panting and/or Drooling
  • Dry heaving without vomiting any food. Occasionally there could be white foam when attempting to vomit, which is generally mucus from the esophagus or stomach
  • Sudden anxiety, inability to get comfortable, pacing, or constantly moving around the room or house
  • Guarding their bellies or looking at their belly
  • Collapse
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Having abdominal distention 
  • Putting themselves in a position similar to the downward facing dog pose with their back half up and upper half down

What do I do if my dog has bloat?

Every case of bloat in dogs needs medical attention as soon as possible. If treated immediately, a lot of the time it is curable. Simple bloat can sometimes even be managed without medication for your dog, but fluids and other treatments could be a possibility.

But if your dog does develop Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus it will likely require surgery right away. 

Why do dogs get bloat? 

GDV is interesting. It's not known why it happens, but there are some ideas as to potential risk factors. These ones here do increase the risk. 

  • Older pups
  • Weighing more than 99 pounds 
  • Exercise directly after eating 
  • Eating from an elevated bowl
  • It can be hereditary if close family members experienced it before 
  • Eating large quantities of food or water too fast 
  • Having a deep chest 
  • Eating dry food that contains fat or oil listed in the first 4 ingredients 

As mentioned now a few times throughout this blog, bloat is incredibly serious and can be fatal for your dog/best friend. If you notice any of the signs listed above, take your dog to the closest vet right away. This needs immediate attention, and if serious enough, surgery. 

Usually we write pretty light hearted blogs here, but after having this topic mentioned last night, we thought it would be a good idea to remind our incredible readers and shoppers the seriousness of this condition. 

Like anything, make sure to call your Vet and get their opinions on anything health and safety related for your dog. We may be dog parents who love their pups, but we are not experts. Please check with your vet before proceeding.

Make sure to check out the store today and order your Lightweight Weekender Dog Travel Bag so you can have THE BEST adventures with your best friend this summer. With plenty of room, collapsable dog bowls and more, this bag has everything you need for the best trips ever. 

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