Bloat is a medical condition in which the stomach becomes overstretched by excessive gas content. It is also commonly referred to as torsion, gastric torsion, and gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) when the stomach is also twisted.... The condition occurs most commonly in domesticated animals, especially ruminants and certain dog breeds.
In dogs, gas accumulation in the stomach is usually associated with volvulus of the stomach, which prevents gas from escaping. Deep-chested breeds are especially at risk. Mortality rates in dogs range from 10 to 60 percent, even with treatment. With surgery, the mortality rate is 15 to 33 percent....
Symptoms are not necessarily distinguishable from other kinds of distress. A dog might stand uncomfortably and seem to be in extreme discomfort for no apparent reason. Other possible symptoms include firm distension of the abdomen, weakness, depression, difficulty breathing, hypersalivation, and retching without vomiting. A high rate of dogs with bloat have cardiac arrhythmias (40 percent in one study). Chronic bloat may occur in dogs, symptoms of which include loss of appetite, vomiting and weight loss.
Bloat is an emergency medical condition: having the animal examined by a veterinarian is imperative. Bloat can become fatal within a matter of minutes.
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[YEA] Marguerite from Wrightwood, Ca: "My dog started to come down with the bloat. Her stomach was distended but she would not eat and she was throwing up white foamy bile. I stopped all food and massaged her tummy for a day, ready to take her to the vet if things didn't improve. I read that kibble can exaserbate the problem, so the next day I made a big pot of lentils, split peas, vegetables and ground turkey. She made a complete recovery and all my dogs love this homemade dog food now."
Dog Food Warnings
[WARNING!] 03/08/2010: Aysha from Oakland, California, Usa: "I'm not seeing anything on Bloat (Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus) in Dogs. Sadly, in my case, it's too late, but if it could help someone else, it should definitely be on here. I fed my 12 yr. old dog a very expensive and well-known all natural dog food and within 3 hours I had to put her down. She got bloat so bad that she could barely move. The vet was not helpful in the least and within 15 minutes of arriving, told us that it would be best to put her down. It was a complete shock to us as she was the healthiest 12 yr. old dog I've ever known. She had been on a raw diet for about a year and it was working wonders. We heard that this natural kibble was excellent food, so thought we'd try to start incorporating it into her diet slowly, thinking it might be a less expensive way to go since we had two 60 lb. dogs. We got the food from my brother, whose dog had died about a week or two before. We never thought it could have been the food that caused his death, but it must have been because his dog had similar symptoms, but lasted a little longer than my dog. He was 7 yrs. old. The same vet that put him down (and my girl) said that he might have had cancer, but it was never confirmed. We will never go back to kibble EVER again. I stick by the raw diet 100%. I think that, had I never tried that food, my dog would still be alive."
We are so sorry for your loss. Thank you so much for writing in with your feedback. We have just created a new page for this condition.
02/12/2011: Karylls from Sanford, Maine, United States replies: "Regarding bloat: I never heard before that there was any connection with kibble. The only thing I heard was that my dog probably did too much jumping around or activity after a meal. I had a large Doberman (very deep chested) who was well on her way of dying a painful death before I could get her to the emergency vet in time. All the times I had been to any vet, no mention was ever made to be cautious for bloat because of her deep chest. If only I had known what it was or any of its symtoms. If large deep chested animals are prone to this, you would think it would be something that a vet would mention. Thank you for the information regarding kibble."
[YEA] 03/11/2011: Great Dane Mom from Conneautville, Pa replies: "Raise your dog's food and water dishes! Owners of deep chested dogs should elevate their food and water dishes to help avoid gulping, which can result in bloat."
09/09/2011: Bilzhorse from Stafford, Va, Usa replies: "Dry kibble should be soaked in water until it completely expands(about 30 mins. ). This is what our vet told us years ago. You would be shocked if you saw how much expansion there is in dry dog food."
01/04/2012: Barbara from Omaha, Ne replies: "Just a warning. There is new evidence that raising your dogs food/water bowls can actually exacerbate the problem with bloat."
01/02/2013: Juan from San Diego, California replies: "Well the dog bloating we have going in right now, may have been some dog food, but mainly its the owners fault. My mother takes care of two dogs whos owners are now currently living with her, one of the owners is uneducated and is the male hes like 45, so he feeds the two dogs, the fat dog which is extremely overweight constantly steals the food from the small dog and and no one takes them for a walk, the fat dog is now finally bloated after 5 years of not been taken care of correctly. So now its bloated and slowly dying, I keep telling them go walk the dog, but seem to care less about it- very sad. I stay out of it."
02/09/2013: Leslie from Winnipeg, Manitoba,canada replies: "Regarding Bloat or gassy dogs - I was told to give my Chihuahua Ovol. This is medication for human babies with gripe problems that you purchase over the counter. It comes in a small bottle and must be well shaken then attach the dropper and give 0.25 mls for a 3- 10 lb. Dog. Do not give more without checking with your vet. Usually this amount will settle my dog down and bring him relief swiftly that lasts at least 8 hours or usually until the next day. If bloat or gassy tummy is extreme you must give this Ovol dosage 2 x daily. I realize that we are looking for alternative meds but whatever works for this ailment is probably welcome and certainly worth a try if your dog is suffering from gas that just won't come out. I also pat my dog on his upper back the way I would a baby after feeding to burp him."
04/20/2013: Mindy from Nashville, Tn replies: "NOOOOOO to elevated food bowls! It is a CAUSE of GDV!
Cumulative incidence of GDV during the study was 6% for large breed and giant breed dogs. Factors significantly associated with an increased risk of GDV were increasing age, having a first-degree relative with a history of GDV, having a faster speed of eating, and having a raised feeding bowl. Approximately 20 and 52% of cases of GDV among the large breed and giant breed dogs, respectively, were attributed to having a raised feed bowl. " (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2000;217:14921499)
My dog (english mastiff) had bloat two years ago. Luckily we were able to get him to the vet in time even though he showed no visible signs of bloat other than distress and listlessness. It was terrifying and caused me to go into a research frenzy over what causes bloat and how I can prevent it.
Changes we made after our dog had bloat was the following:
1. No longer elevated his bowls!!!! This is big, because companies market their elevated bowls as keeping bloat at bay. Incorrect, it makes it worse because the dog can eat quicker and swallow more air because its easy to snatch at and gulp down.
2. Changed our food to a better organic brand that does not swell when it is in the stomach or water is added to it. You can test your own food by adding water to the kibble and seeing how much it expands. If it expands more than a little. GET A NEW BRAND.
3. Spaced out feedings to 3 times a day. Once in the morning and twice at night (waiting 30 minutes in between). Knowing our mastiff and how much he swallows air when he eats we generally wait for him to burp. No playing, just resting 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after eating. Which is easy once we got him into the routine."