Bloat - Editor's Choice

Over the years, Earth Clinic readers have sent us many reports about their treatments for Bloat. The editors at Earth Clinic consider the below posts to be some of the most helpful and informative and have named them 'Editor's Choice'. We hope that you will find this useful.

Activated Charcoal

Posted by Charles (Texas) on 09/19/2016

I had an issue with bloat on Saturday night, Mixed breed female 1 years old...Called my vet left a message, called the emergency clinic they left as a number, same story, used Gas X and began patting her belly and her sides and back, made a run to walgreens with her and picked up some activated charcoal, began the process of patting her belly and sides, she began burping and passing gas, the following morning she was completely back to normal in appearance, I fed her some chicken broth and half of a can of dog food, she ate, and went to the bathroom, passing stools and urinating she seems much better, but still is not feeling great. I am in the process of finding a new Vet to take her to see and get her checked, thank you for your post. it may have very well saved her life.

Preventing Bloat in Large Breed Dogs

Posted by Leann (Nashville, Tn) on 05/01/2014

BLOAT - Bloat is a very dangerous, usually fatal incident. It is NOT indigestion, a sour stomach, being overweight, or expelling gas, etc. Once your dog begins to show signs of bloat it will require quick emergency surgery. If the bloat is caught in the beginning and surgery is not required then your dog will most likely have another episode. Most surgeries are in the thousands of dollars and vets will inform you that a favorable outcome is not guaranteed. During the surgery the vet will clear the stomach, if there is any damaged tissue it will be removed, and the stomach will be anchored inside the body so that it can not twist in a future bloating episode.

Please note that this is not something that massaging, giving an herb, etc. can cure when the event occurs. Only a vet can save the dog. Since bloating has such a dire outcome in most instances the best thing to do is to prevent it. Practice preventive pet parenting to decrease the odds your dog will bloat.

Dogs with deep chests that arch up into a tight stomach area are most prone such as Dobermans, Greyhounds, Golden Retrievers, Flat-Coated Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, etc. However, all dogs could bloat. Males are more prone than females.

Stress is considered an issue that can contribute to bloat so do not feed your dog prior to any stressful situation or afterward by at least one hour. Exercise before or after eating is also considered a factor as is feeding a dog in one meal a day.

Therefore, keep your dog as stress-free as possible. Visitors, holidays, traveling, boarding, fireworks, swimming, extreme heat and cold conditions, training, and other situations are all stressful. Overactive children, arguing, the neighbor mowing, and other human interactions can be stressful to a dog. During these situations prevent your dog from eating prior by at least one hour, during, or after by at least one hour.

Symptoms vary. Dogs may try to throw up without anything coming out. They may try to find comfort by lying down flat on their side, then up onto their stomachs, again to their side, and keep moving because they cannot get comfortable. They may pace around because they are uncomfortable. They may pant heavily before they begin pacing, trying to vomit, or trying to lie down. They may begin showing a bulging or descended stomach. They may cough trying to clear their airway and then gag in between coughs spaced out by minutes or seconds.

Years ago, dog owners were told to raise their feed and water dishes but this has proven to be bad advice. Feed your dog from bowls located on the floor.

Do not feed dry kibble. It should be watered down and allowed to rest for a few minutes before giving it to the dog.

Several meals spaced throughout a day are better than one heavy meal.

The only thing that can help when on your way to the vet is simethicone. Show dog handlers and event competitors (agility, tracking, etc.) are known to have it with them at all times. Compounding pharmacists will sell it. I have a small bottle of it on hand with me in my home and when I travel with my dogs. If you can't get 100% simethicone you can find it over the counter in a gas treatment. It is a key ingredient in Gas-X. If you use it you will need MANY pills to stabilize a bloating dog not just one pill. Open them up and give them directly.

As preventive, a Gas-X or generic brand with simethicone can be given in the dog's food with their meal. I use one pill per meal for a dog that I have that is a senior Doberman that bloated and had surgery 6 years ago.

Some vets will offer to anchor the dogs stomach as a preventive measure when a female is spayed. Bloating that occurs when full stomach torsion is almost always fatal. By anchoring the stomach the torsion cannot occur. The bloat will still require medical attention but the torsion is prevented which offers a better outcome.

I hope no one ever has to experience real gastric torsion or bloat with their dog. It is frightening, it is painful for the dog and it kills way too many of them. Prevention is the best course of action and in the event you think your dog may be bloating - don't wait, get to the vet ASAP. The sooner you do the more positive outcome you will face. It is better to be over-cautious than not when it comes to bloat.

Preventing Bloat in Large Breed Dogs
Posted by Deidre (Fairfield County, Ct) on 03/30/2014

I lost my first large breed dog to Bloat years back, it was such a tragedy - I then became obessed with preventing it. What I have learned is as follows:

  • Elevated Food Bowls increase bloat risk
  • Feed your dog a supplement with Ox Bile along with food
  • Provide a mixture of wet and dry food versus wetting the kibble
  • Give your dog a good probiotic supplement, as balancing intestinal flora is critical
  • Bloat increases with age, so feed an older dog smaller amounts more frequently
  • Do not exercise your dog within an hour before or after eating, especially older dogs
  • If your dog is a fast eater, place a tennis ball in the middle of his food dish to eat around. This will slow eating down
  • The first sign of bloat is usually restlessness with a very dry, unproductive cough. It can develop very quickly, so bring your dog to the vet immediately after seeing the first signs
  • Have Maalox/Mylanta with Symethicone handy, as the vet may ask you to start treatment with it for the build up of gas

Remember to listen/watch your animals for a change in behavoir - it may save their life!

Activated Charcoal

Posted by Stephanie (Minneapolis, MN) on 03/29/2014

For many years of having dogs, I have encountered, from time to time, the symptoms of bloating and discomfort in my dogs after they have been eating other animals' feces (I presume) or some other un-nameables. When I notice this discomfort, I immediately give two or more capsules of activated charcoal to my dog. This works very well. Sometimes I may give 3 capsules now and another dose later. Then, the only thing to be concerned about is if they would get constipation from too much charcoal. That has never happened that I know of but I know that is something to be aware of.

i wonder if anyone has tried this with cattle. I once treated a calf with bloat. There was no charcoal so we just burned toast and scraped it to crumbs and gave it to the calf. However, I also applied some Jin Shin Jyutsu for indigestion, so, when the calf recovered, we did not know if it was one or the other treatment, or both, that had helped the calf, or if the calf just recovered on its own. If anyone has input about bloat in calves, and treatment with charcoal, I would be very grateful to hear it. (A family member owns cattle). Thank you.