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Bloat In Dogs. Know The Signs (Video)

Signs and Symptoms Of Dog Bloat or GDV

Dog bloat is the combination of 2 conditions-gastric dilatation where the stomach fills with gas and fluid, and volvulus, which is where the gas-filled stomach twists (GDV). Once the stomach twists, the blood supply to the stomach is cut off and the stomach begins to die which can lead to shock and death of the dog.

Bloat is a serious condition that can happen to any dog but it is more commonly seen in large or giant breed dogs that have deep chests, such as the Great Dane, Newfoundland, Boxer, Great Pyrenees, Irish Wolfhound, Irish Setter and several other large, deep-chested breeds.

This life-threatening condition is usually seen in adult dogs over the age of 4, and some studies have suggested that male dogs are more at risk than female dogs of getting bloat.

Bloat is the combination of 2 conditions-gastric dilatation where the stomach fills with gas and fluid, and volvulus, which is where the gas-filled stomach twists (GDV).

Once the stomach twists, the blood supply to the stomach is cut off and the stomach begins to die which can lead to shock and death of the dog.

A dog can bloat and not have the stomach twist, but it is still a serious condition because when the stomach fills up with gas and fluid, it puts pressure on the surrounding organs and the diaphragm which makes it hard for the dog to breathe and can cause serious damage to the stomach and the surrounding organs.



bloat chart


Veterinarian Dr. Jason Nicholas says, “Bloat/GDV can kill a dog within an hour if untreated.

This is why we vets can’t 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.”

dog breeds at risk of GDV or dog bloat are the Great Dane, Newfoundland, Irish Wolfhound, Bernese Mountain Dog, Mastiff and Boxer

Early Signs Of Bloat In Dogs

The first signs of dog bloat can vary from dog to dog but these are the most common symptoms reported:

  • Distention or swollen stomach
  • Unproductive vomiting-which means the dog is trying to vomit but only foam or nothing at all is coming up.
  • Heavy drooling
  • Painful stomach
  • Restlessness. The dog can not get comfortable
  • Fast, heavy breathing
  • Pale mucus membranes (gums)
  • Collapse
  • Death

How Quickly Does a Dog Bloat?

The timeline for a dog that is experiencing bloat moves pretty quickly.

In the first stages of bloat, gas begins to accumulate in the stomach, the dog begins to feel some discomfort. 

Next, the stomach begins to dilate, and the dog becomes stressed. They may begin to pace and vomit up foam. Their stomach will usually be visibly enlarged. 

In the last phase of GDV, the stomach twists, cutting off the blood supply to the stomach. The dog is normally in a lot of obvious pain, panting and drooling, shallow breathing, pale gums and the stomach when tapped on sounds hallow.  

The dog will die shortly after this if emergency care is not already in progress. 

Bloat can go from one stage to another within minutes. 

Here’s a video of a dog experiencing bloat:

Why does canine bloat happen?

In my research, it seems that no one knows for sure but studies have suggested that dogs who eat one large meal a day,  have anxiety, exercise vigorously before and after eating and drink large amounts of water before and after eating are more prone to bloat.

Genetics may increase a dog’s risk of GDV. 

Some recent studies have suggested that dogs who suffer from IBD are at an increased risk for bloat.

There is no evidence that ice cubes cause dog bloat

How can you prevent dog bloat in dogs?

That’s a great question and one that doesn’t seem to have a straight answer.

There seem to be several studies that contradict each other and I’m not a vet so the best advice I can give is to talk to your veterinarian about bloat and ask them about ways that you can try and prevent it.

A few things that I personally do to try and prevent it are:

  • I feed twice a day, instead of one big meal once a day.
  • I discourage fast eating. How To Slow Down Your Dog’s Eating
  • I don’t allow the dogs to heavily exercise an hour before and an hour after eating.
  • I don’t let them drink a ton of water an hour before and after eating.
  • Leroy likes to go outside and roll around after he eats and I try to discourage this even though it’s never been proven to cause a dog’s stomach to twist.
  • I know their bodies and I know them. Leroy has IBD which studies say increases his risk of GDV. 
  • I try to Sherman’s anxiety as low as I can
  • I feed from a semi-elevated feeder. This is one of those things that studies have gone back and forth with over the years.  Years ago studies suggested that feeding from an elevated feeder could help prevent bloat but recent studies suggest the opposite. I’ve always fed my Newfoundlands from elevated feeders without issues but that doesn’t mean I’m preventing bloat. 

Some people will tact (gastropexy) their dog’s stomach to prevent torsion.

Tacking a stomach does not prevent bloat but in most cases, it will stop the stomach from twisting.

There are also dog bloat kits that are available but most veterinarians do not recommend home treatment for bloat since most pet owners will not feel comfortable putting a tube down their dog’s throat and it can be dangerous for the dog and for the owner.

lateral x-ray of a dog with gastric dilation (GDV) (dog bloat)

X-ray of dog lateral view with Gastric dilatation-volvulus GDV or stomach twists- Double bubble pattern indicates stomach torsion has occurred-Veterinary medicine and Veterinary anatomy Concept.

Above all, getting your dog to an emergency clinic as soon as possible is the best option.

Having a bloat chart available in your home is also a great idea.

“Owners of deep-chested breeds can elect to get their dog a gastropexy, or they can minimize the risk of bloat by limiting strenuous exercise after eating and drinking, slowing the rate of food consumption, and feeding frequent small portions rather than infrequent larger portions.” – OSU College of Veterinary Medicine

Can Bloat In Dogs Resolve Itself?

For true bloat/GDV in a dog, it will not resolve by itself and there are no home treatments. 

A dog that is experiencing a gastric torsion needs to seek emergency care or it will not survive.

X-ray of dog anterior view with Gastric dilatation volvulus


So how about you? Do you have a breed that is prone to bloat? Do you know the signs? Any tips you can share?

Articles of Interest:

Institute of Canine Biology-Purdue Bloat Study

Bloat-The Mother Of All Emergencies

Bloat: A Major Breakthrough 

**On a side note I’ve discovered that the link to the official Purdue study is broken which is why there is not a direct link to it.

 Bloat Chart

Bloat Chart

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Common signs and symptoms of bloat in dogs


  • Regular veterinarian's number:
  • Emergency vet number:


  1. Distended stomach
  2. Pacing
  3. Not able to get comfortable
  4. Unproductive vomiting
  5. Heavy drooling
  6. Fast breathing
  7. Increased heart rate and pulse
  8. Pale gums
  9. Collapse
  10. Unconsciousness


If you suspect that your dog is suffering from bloat it is best to seek treatment at the first signs of distress. Do not wait for symptoms to progress as bloat happens fast.

You can use the below area to monitor your dog's vitals.

Heart rate:

Respiratory rate:

Capillary refill time:


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Wednesday 19th of March 2014

Glad it wasn't bloat, thanks for sharing your story. Hope he feels better now!!


Thursday 13th of March 2014

Bloat scares the crap out of me and I was sure Lola was experiencing it on a number of sleepless nights... but alas, she was not... and as you said, there are some very key signs. I always worry about it though... So scary.

Pup Fan

Tuesday 11th of March 2014

Whew - so glad Leroy was okay!


Monday 10th of March 2014

Poor Leroy! I'm so glad he is doing better Jen. We had a scare this past summer with Bea. Some of the same symptoms and off we went to emergency Vet services (a Sunday of course). She was filled with gas and they gave her something to get rid of it so we lucked out.

We have always fed our Newfies three times a day. They basically eat when we eat. They always have their big jug water dish so excessive drinking afterwards has not been a problem. They did like to go outside after dinner and run around but since they are both older now, that has diminished.

Bea has bone cancer (diagnosed in January). We switched to Raw feeding (cancer likes carbs) and this has helped out tremendously with their overall health issues including tummy troubles. It ain't cheap but she is still here with us so we hope it is buying her some time.


Monday 10th of March 2014

Vicki-I had no idea that Bea was diagnosed with bone cancer. I'm so sorry, but I'm glad to hear that she is doing well!

Thanks for the feedback on the raw, I've been thinking about that for quite some time....

Give Bea a hug for me ;)

Jana Rade

Monday 10th of March 2014

That is a scary stuff! Yes, our guys are one of the breeds at risk. I hope that fate can safe me this type of scare, though.


Monday 10th of March 2014

It's always in the back of mind and I hope it never actually happens, for any dog!

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