What Does Bloat Look Like in a Dog?

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Do not attempt to give your dog any over-the-counter medications or folk remedies. This could make matters worse and delay critical treatment. The severely bloated stomach can also cause breathing issues and a host of serious metabolic problems such as acid-base and electrolyte imbalances, blood clotting abnormalities, and widespread inflammation for the dog, which lead to some of the symptoms described below and can be fatal.

Standing with elbows pointed outward and neck extended : This is your dog‘s attempt to improve their ability to breathe. However, it’s also typical as the condition progresses, due primarily to the compromised blood flow throughout your dog‘s body, as they are in a true state of shock. (See the video below) Pale mucus membranes and prolonged capillary refill time (CRT) : The color of the tissues above your dog‘s teeth can be an indication of the health and function of their circulatory system (heart and blood vessels).

Even if it turns out not to be a case of GDV, you (and your dog) will be happier for the peace of mind and relief veterinary evaluation can provide. This is why we vets cant stress it enough: If you notice that your dog is bloated, it is officially the time to get them to the nearest open veterinary hospital ASAP. If your regular veterinarians office is closed, bring your dog immediately to the closest Animal ER.

Even if you think theres a chance that your dog may currently be suffering from GDV, please err on the side of caution and take them for immediate veterinary evaluation. Below is an email from one reader whose dog was fortunate enough not to have bloat, but was thankful she had the information from our 101 Essential Tips book that she took the appropriate precautionary measures. They say that “bloat is 95 percent fatal. Its very important to note that this quoted mortality rate (i.e., the percentage of affected dogs that die or are euthanized) is for cases that go undetected and/or where appropriate treatment is declined or unnecessarily delayed.

Hospital staff will quickly take your dog to the back for initial diagnostics (X-rays, blood pressure, EKG traces, and more). It’s absolutely critical for your dog‘s healing process their movements and activity be limited following GDV surgery. We do know that breed, family history, stress (including a fast/nervous eating disposition), and the frequency and amount you feed all play a role in GDV/Bloat.

There is ongoing research into this subject and, ironically, one factor that was previously thought to decrease risk of GDV/Bloat feeding from an elevated bowl actually appears to increase it! Talk to Your Vet: Work with your veterinarian to determine if there is an identifiable (and treatable) condition that contributed to your dog‘s GDV/Bloat episode. Conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies, and other disorders that slow down gut movement may contribute to the development of GDV/Bloat.

You’d be unnecessarily increasing your dog‘s risk of breaking a tooth, which is another painful and expensive condition to treat. The Outward Hound Slow Feeder Bowl encourages your pup to eat up to 10 times slower with its puzzle design. The Green Interactive Feeder , which is made to look like a tuft of grass, turns your dog‘s meal into a challenging, time-consuming game.

What are the first signs of bloat in a dog?

restlessness..pacing..swollen or distended abdomen..painful abdomen..overall look of distress..retching or attempts to vomit with no success..excessive drooling..panting or rapid breathing.

How Long Can dogs live with bloat?

Bloat, by itself, can last for hours, even days before torsion occurs. Both maladies can be life threatening. A study published in Veterinary Surgery in 1996 reported that 40,000 – 60,000 dogs experienced GDV and of those, 33% died. What are the signs of bloat?

How do you get rid of bloat in dogs?

Don’t use an elevated food bowl..Don’t exercise for at least an hour before or after eating..Slow down your dog’s eating. ….Serve your dog multiple meals during the day in smaller portions..Keep a simethicone product like Gas -x, Phazyme or Mylanta Gas in the house to initiate burping immediately.

Is bloat in dogs obvious?

What are the signs of bloat? The two most obvious symptoms of bloat are a distended belly and unproductive belching. You shouldn’t have to look too hard for the former, and you’ll surely hear the latter. A distended belly will present as an obvious change to the shape of your dog’s abdomen.

Bloat is a condition in which food or gas stretches your dogs stomach, causing abdominal pain. While it is more common in large breed or deep-chested dogs, any breed can develop bloat. Depending on the severity, bloat can be fatal if not treated within an hour or two.

Bloat can also put pressure on the diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, leading to trouble breathing. This is called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) and is considered one of the most painful, severe emergencies in veterinary medicine.

This degree of bloat cuts off blood flow to the stomach and the lower half of the body, making it impossible for food to pass into the intestine. Simple bloat, where the dogs stomach has not twisted, can sometimes be managed without medication, but may require fluids or other treatments. A veterinarian may suspect bloat and/or GDV by simply seeing a dogs distressed behavior and physical appearance, but they typically also perform tests to confirm the diagnosis.

An x-ray can indicate if a dog has simple bloat, where the stomach appears very distended and round and is usually full of food or gas. Theyre also walked often to stimulate movement of the gastrointestinal tract to help move the gas and food quickly through the body. Intravenous fluids with electrolytes to aggressively treat shock and improve circulation to vital organs.

Pain medications and often antibiotics to treat discomfort, shock and any death of tissues from the loss of circulation. Electrocardiogram (ECG) to monitor for any heart abnormalities which frequently due to toxins from decreased circulation. After proper diagnosis, dogs with simple bloat tend to bounce back into their normal lives and routines 1 to 2 days after receiving fluids and taking frequent walks.

Length of time in the hospital depends on the dogs health history and severity of bloat, and may be anywhere from 1 to 2 days, to up to 7 or more. It is believed that diets where fat or oils are listed in the top 4 ingredients put dogs at a higher risk of food bloat. More importantly, large amounts of food or water in one sitting have been shown to substantially increase bloat risk.

Dogs with simple bloat are generally hospitalized to receive intravenous fluids, medicine to help the stomach empty and frequent walks to stimulate bowel movements. If a vet determines a dog with simple mild bloat can be treated at home, the owner will be advised to withhold food for 12 to 24 hours, take the dog on frequent walks, and limit water intake to small amounts several times daily. It is best to offer small to moderate amounts of water and limit drinking 30 minutes prior to any heavy exercise.

Causes and Symptoms of Bloat in DogsBloat is a generic term for distention of the abdomen. This is sometimes used interchangeably with a disease called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, but a bloated abdomen does not always indicate this condition. Its important to be able to distinguish between the types and causes of bloat, so be sure to contact a vet if you have any concerns about your dogs condition. Here well discuss a few common symptoms and causes for the appearance of a bloated stomach in dogs.Are you concerned about your pet? Book a video consultation with an experienced veterinarian within minutes. Professional vet advice online Unlimited vet visits – for just $90 Open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year Rating: 4.9 – more than 1600 reviewsRating: 4.9 – more than 1300 reviewsRating: 4.9 – more than 1600 reviews Book Video Consultation What is Bloat?In a simple bloat situation, a pet has often ingested a large volume of food or other material (such as dog food, bread dough, foreign material, etc), or has a stomach full of air. When this happens, it causes the stomach to stretch like a balloon and can become very uncomfortable for the pet. Although this is quite uncomfortable, its not typically a life-threatening condition at this stage. However, due to the stomach enlarging, it can twist on itself inside the abdomen which cuts off the blood supply to numerous organs. When this happens, it is then called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV). Because of the loss of oxygen to numerous organs and the damage that is done when the stomach enlarges and twists, this condition is often fatal and requires immediate medical attention.What breeds are at risk for bloat?Many people with pets have heard of the dreaded bloat in dogs. Bloat most commonly affects large breeds like Great Danes, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, and other deep-chested dogs. However, any dog can become bloated. Top 4 Causes of Bloat in Dogs1. Intestinal ParasitesHave you ever heard someone refer to a puppys appearance as having a wormy belly? Thats because many intestinal parasites cause a bloated appearance to the abdomen of young puppies. These parasites commonly include hookworms and roundworms and are often found by vets on a fecal screening test.Some symptoms you may encounter are round long worms in the stool or vomiting worms up. You may also notice a poor haircoat, pale gums, or diarrhea (with or without blood). Generally, intestinal parasites are a treatable condition with proper deworming and can be corrected easily if diagnosed early.2. Dietary IndiscretionDid your puppy get into a large bag of dog food? Did they swallow a ridiculous amount of dirt or ingest your toddlers Play-Doh? Dogs really do eat some weird things. And if eaten in large enough volume, can cause a significant and very uncomfortable distention of the stomach.In most cases, the food will be digested (sometimes very slowly). Your puppy may still need supportive care, including hospitalization and IV fluids. In more serious cases, especially in the case of swallowing things like stuffing from a dog bed, or mulch in the yard, surgery may be needed to remove the foreign material.Other possible causes of an enlarged stomach may include decreased gastrointestinal motility (slow intestinal movement), or even constipation. Your vet will need to examine your dog to determine if additional testing, like blood work or x-rays, are needed to uncover the cause of her bloated stomach.3. Abdominal FluidAlthough less common than the first two causes, fluid in the abdomen can certainly lead to a distended or bloated appearance. This can be from a variety of problems including heart failure, low body protein, cancer, and even bleeding from other organs. Free abdominal fluid occurs more commonly in older dogs and is often associated with more severe disease.Treatment options depend on the underlying cause. Identifying the type of fluid as well as making sure the dog is stable is the first step in diagnosing most underlying conditions.4. Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)Known as The mother of all emergencies in veterinary medicine, GDV is an extremely dangerous condition in which the stomach fills with air, and then twists on itself inside the abdomen. This leads to a distended appearance of the dogs torso and is often accompanied by a distressed appearance, heavy breathing, and attempts to vomit. In some cases, the stomach is filled with air but hasnt twisted yet (Gastric Dilatation) and imaging is required for further evaluation (like x-rays).Read more about GDV, here!What should I do if my dog‘s stomach looks bloated?Due to the wide variation in conditions causing a bloated stomach appearance, its recommended that medical care be sought early. Your vet will perform an exam and discuss further tests or treatments based on their findings. Early intervention can be lifesaving, and your pet will thank you for it!Contact your vet or take your dog to an emergency clinic if she is showing any of these signs:Distended, hard abdomenSudden onset of frequent vomiting, gagging, or retching (nonproductive vomiting)Drooling excessively (hypersalivation)Signs of distress including heavy panting, pacing, or inability to restWeakness, decreased ability to walk or standPale or purple gumsNeed to speak with a veterinarian regarding bloating in your dog or another condition?Click here to schedule a video consult to speak to one of our vets. You can also download the FirstVet app from the Apple App Store and Google Play Stores.Dr. Grace GoreLast updated: 2021-10-29

I hate this disease. When I first started as a vet, we gave a dog with bloat a 50-50 chance if he could walk into the hospital. Many were too weak and had to be carried in. They often died. Now, 30 years later, bloat still kills about 30 percent of the dogs it affects, even after extremely intensive treatment.

As the stomach flips, it drags the spleen and pancreas along with it, cutting off the blood flow. Second, because up to 90 percent of affected dogs will have this condition again, we tack the stomach to the abdominal wall (a procedure called a gastropexy) to prevent it from twisting.

However, we do know that foods containing soybean meal or having oils or fats in the first four ingredients increase the risk by fourfold. Using slow feeder bowls with fingers (or center posts) or putting large rocks in the bowl slows dogs down physically, but its also important to address the anxiety that comes with feeding around other dogs, because that can be a risk factor. Separating dogs at feeding times may help reduce anxiety and stress surrounding food.

If your dog shows signs of bloat, take him to a veterinarian or an emergency pet clinic immediately.

What Is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat is a condition in which food or gas stretches your dog’s stomach, causing abdominal pain. While it is more common in large breed or deep-chested dogs, any breed can develop bloat. Depending on the severity, bloat can be fatal if not treated within an hour or two.The stomach is located in the upper abdomen and normally contains a small amount of gas, food, liquid, and mucus. When a dog eats, food enters the stomach from the esophagus, then is broken down by digestive enzymes. From the stomach, the food moves into the small intestine and down the gastrointestinal tract.When bloat occurs, your dog’s stomach begins to expand, or distend, and cuts off blood flow to the abdomen as well as the stomach itself. This may cause injury (even death) of the stomach wall and, without treatment, eventually other organs. Bloat can also put pressure on the diaphragm, a thin muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, leading to trouble breathing.In severe cases of bloat, a dog’s stomach twists and fills with gas. This is called gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) and is considered one of the most painful, severe emergencies in veterinary medicine. This degree of bloat cuts off blood flow to the stomach and the lower half of the body, making it impossible for food to pass into the intestine. In extreme cases of GDV, a dog’s stomach can rupture, and the spleen can also be injured.This is a very serious health emergency and, if untreated, a dog with GDV will die within hours.

Is Bloat in Dogs Curable?

All cases of bloat require immediate medical attention to determine the severity. If bloat is treated immediately, it is often curable.Simple bloat, where the dog’s stomach has not twisted, can sometimes be managed without medication, but may require fluids or other treatments.Other degrees of bloat, including GDV, can also be curable if diagnosed in the early stages. These conditions are usually treated with immediate surgery.

Causes of Bloat in Dogs

Bloat is a very uncomfortable, often painful, health crisis for dogs. As a result, a dog with bloat may:

How Vets Diagnose Bloat in Dogs

A veterinarian may suspect bloat and/or GDV by simply seeing a dog’s distressed behavior and physical appearance, but they typically also perform tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Blood Test

The vet may perform a blood test to get a picture of your dog’s overall health.

Abdominal X-rays

These are taken to confirm the diagnosis and to determine the severity of bloat. An x-ray can indicate if a dog has simple bloat, where the stomach appears very distended and round and is usually full of food or gas. X-rays also show if bloat has progressed to GDV and the stomach appears very distended and has what looks like a bubble on top of the already swollen stomach.

Recovery and Management of Bloat in Dogs

Treatment of simple bloat can be quite straightforward. Dogs are usually hospitalized to receive large amounts of intravenous fluids and sometimes medicine. They’re also walked often to stimulate movement of the gastrointestinal tract to help move the gas and food quickly through the body.

What is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex, is a medical and surgical emergency.As the stomach fills with air, pressure builds, stopping blood from the hind legs and abdomen from returning to the heart. Blood pools at the back end of the body, reducing the working blood volume and sending the dog into shock.If this isn’t enough, there is yet another scary thing that happens, and it is devastating to see. As the stomach flips, it drags the spleen and pancreas along with it, cutting off the blood flow. The oxygen-starved pancreas produces some very toxic hormones. One, in particular, targets the heart and stops it cold. In fact, a dog can go through successful treatment and seem to be out of danger, when suddenly the heart stops.Even in the mildest case of bloat, which is extremely rare, dogs die without treatment.

Why Do Dogs Bloat?

Without treatment, in only an hour or two, your dog will likely go into shock. The heart rate will rise and the pulse will get weaker, leading to death.

How is Bloat Treated?

Veterinarians start by treating the shock. Once the dog is stable, he’s taken into surgery. We do two procedures. One is to deflate the stomach and turn it back to its correct position. If the stomach wall is damaged, that piece is removed. Second, because up to 90 percent of affected dogs will have this condition again, we tack the stomach to the abdominal wall (a procedure called a gastropexy) to prevent it from twisting.