Bloat In Dogs: The ‘All You Need To Know’ Guide

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Bloating! For humans, it’s annoying, uncomfortable and often frustrating to work out the cause. But bloat in dogs is a whole heap more serious.

The official term for bloat in dogs is gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV) and is one of the few absolute emergencies in veterinary medicine. Dogs can, and do, go into shock and die if not treated promptly. The dog bloat timeline can be as little as 20 minutes.

Knowing these serious consequences we, at ProDog, wanted to write a guide to help you to do all you can to avoid ever experiencing bloat tragedy for your four-legged companion.

In this blog you’ll discover: 

  • Causes of bloat in dogs
  • Symptoms of bloat in dogs
  • Which dogs suffer from bloat
  • How to prevent bloat in dogs
  • Ways to treat bloat in dogs

What Causes Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat is a condition where the stomach twists or flips over on itself. This closes both the entry and exit of the stomach, so that any air built up inside has nowhere to escape. Food and fluids in the gut will begin to ferment and produce gases. This causes physical bloating in the belly, leading to pressure on the diaphragm which affects breathing. It also cuts off blood flow to the heart. At this stage, there is a danger of a dog going into shock.

What are the Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat can occur anytime but is most likely immediately after finishing a meal and up to 2 hours later. Be aware if your canine companion is displaying any of the following symptoms, and be extra vigilant after food time.

  • Swollen hard belly
  • Pacing restlessness
  • Signs of severe distress
  • Trying to vomit but nothing coming out
  • Pale gums
  • Excessive drooling

What Breed of Dogs Suffer from Bloat?

ALL dogs have the potential to be affected by bloat!

It isn’t exclusive to one breed over another, however, certain statistics are indicating the condition is more likely to occur in larger breeds with deep chests, such as Great Danes, St Bernards, Weimaraners, German Shepherds and Labradors.

Age and gender increase the likelihood of a dog developing bloat with older, male canines being more susceptible. Yet, ANY DOG can be impacted by this potentially devastating condition, so whatever your four-legged pals breed, read on to learn how to prevent and treat bloat in dogs.

Best Ways to Prevent Bloat in Dogs

The exact cause of bloat is not yet understood, but there are several elements of a doggo’s lifestyle that have been connected to the condition and therefore adjustments made in these areas will decrease the likelihood of bloating:

  1. What You Feed

What you’re putting into your dog’s bowl is a key factor. A dog’s digestive system is designed to process proteins, not large amounts of carbohydrates. In simple terms that means meat, not grains and starches (processed pet foods, especially kibble is high in carbs) Carbs are very difficult for a dog’s system to break down, which leads to the production of internal gases.

Dry food creates thirst, and thirst equals gulping water in dog world. Imagine a belly full of food and water, you can picture it right? It’s so much easier for a stomach to twist when buoyant with water.

A raw meat diet is proven through dog science to improve the overall well-being of all dogs, including the function of the digestive system. Check out our RAWbellion page for more in-depth info on this.

Feeding a raw diet improves the microbiome balance (gut bacteria) of the gut. Improved gut health leads to a huge amount of health improvements, including reducing unwanted gasses and ensuring better functioning digestion. To take your dog’s gut health to the next level you could also choose a natural supplement to add to the diet, such as ProDog’s Protect.

Raw bones provide a ton of essential nutrients, and the right bones can strengthen stomach muscles which aids digestion. The bonus of bones is that they clean your dog’s teeth. Check out our raw treat blog for more about which bones to choose.

  1. How You Feed

Eating speed is a factor that’s been connected with bloat in dogs. When food is gulped quickly, often large amounts of air are consumed. If your dog is a four-legged hoover when it comes to food try:

  • Feed little and often. Smaller more frequent meals (2-4 meals per day).
  • Buy a slow feeder bowl or place large rocks in the food bowl. This forces the dog to eat around these obstacles, and slows the eating.
  • Keep the bowl on the floor. Despite previous recommendations that a raised feeding bowl may decrease the likelihood of bloat. A study from 2000 published in the Journal of American Veterinary Association found the risk of bloat increased when feeding from a raised bowl; with 20% heightened risk for large dogs and 52% for giant dogs.
  1. When to Exercise

You know how when you’ve eaten the last thing you want to do is move? Jumping and running on a full stomach makes you feel sick and uncomfortable right?

It’s the same for dogs, only you also run the risk of bloat. Exercise generates a host of physiological changes, so incorporating food and exercise too close together increases risk of bloat. Exercise includes highly physical play.

The best practice timescales to follow are; feed 60 mins or more after exercise, and exercise a minimum of 2hrs after food.

  1. How to Treat Bloat in Dogs

There’s no doubt this is a condition that’s preferable to prevent rather than treat.

Despite the best efforts of dog owners, no matter how much care is given, your doggo could still be affected. It’s important to know exactly what to do in the moment, as time is of the essence.

The strategy is very simple for you as the dog owner. Get doggo to the emergency vet ASAP!

Bloat can kill a dog within 1 hour so make sure you’re familiar with where your nearest veterinary surgery and out of hours surgery is. If you’re unsure whether your dog is suffering from bloat don’t take any chances, go to the vet anyway. Better to go and not need treatment, than to not go and the worst to happen. All good veterinary staff will understand.

There are two natural remedies that can help relieve the symptoms of bloat. Don’t waste time trying to administer these at home though. Bundle doggo into the car, head for the vets and your co-pilot can attempt to drop some pellets into your dog’s mouth on the way.

  • Carbo vegetabilis in a 30C or 200C potency
  • Nux vomica in a 30C or 200C potency

So there you have it, all you need to know about bloat in dogs. For more doggo well-being tips, check out our blog, follow us on social media and we’d love you to join our community for all dog lovers “The Canine Collective” on Facebook and join in the fun.

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