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Does your dog have Bloat or Stomach Dilatation


Its official name is Gastric Dilatation and volvulus syndrome or GDV but it is often referred to as bloat, stomach dilatation or twisted stomach. It is a disease that causes dog stomachs to dilate and then twist or rotate. This can lead to health complications that require emergency intervention like stomach distension, pressure in the abdomen, decreased perfusion (the delivery of nutrients from the blood to the tissues around the body) and cardiovascular damage. When perfusion does not happen enough damage to the cells can occur as can organ death.

Dog Breeds That are More Prone to GDV


Breed and build of the dog does impact on the chances of them getting bloat. Large breeds with narrow but deep chests are more at risk. While small dogs can get it this is a lot less likely. In a study conducted of one hundred dogs who developed stomach dilatation, carried out by the University of Purdue, dogs of mixed breeds are less likely to develop the problem too.

Breeds that are the most at risk include;




Basset Hound


Golden Retriever

Alaskan Malamute

Old English Sheepdog


Great Dane

English Springer Spaniel

Chesapeake Bay Retriever

German Shepherd

Saint Bernard


Airedale Terrier

Gordon Setter


Standard Poodle

Labrador Retriever

Doberman Pinscher

Irish Setter

German Shorthaired Pointer

Other Reasons a Dog might be more at Risk of Bloat

As well as breed being a factor there is also his age, gender, feeding routine, genetics and temperament to consider.

There has been a genetic link found with this disease, if your dogs parents had certain traits that made them more at risk these can be passed on to your dog. This is about the width and depth of the chest of your dog. If the parents had narrow and deep chests there is a very likely outcome this trait will be passed on to their puppies and so on.

Adult dogs over seven years old have double the likelihood of developing bloat compared to dogs between the age of two to four.

While neutering or spaying your dog does not seem to put them at more risk, if your dog is male he is twice as likely to develop GDV as a female dog.

Dogs who feed twice a day and do not eat too fast are less likely to be at risk than those who get 1 large meal a day and eat it quickly. Exercising too soon after a large meal is also not a good idea.

Your dog's temperament even has an affect. Anxious or nervous dogs are more likely to have stomach dilatation than more confident and less fearful dogs.

Symptoms of Twisted Stomach

Usual symptoms include;


Abdominal pain



Drooling more than usual



Rapid heart beat

A weak pulse

Labored breathing

Pale mucus membrane in the nose and mouth and other orifices

Why Does it Happen?

Unfortunately the causes of GDV are not exactly known though vets are aware of some factors that have an impact like anatomy, genetics and the dog's environment.

Diagnosing Your Dog

The usual tests done on your dog to look for bloat are imaging techniques. For example they will take x-rays of his stomach. Other tests will also be taken like urine samples and blood samples. If they judge it is not GDV that is causing the symptoms you have noticed in your dog they will likely then look for other causes such as a bacterial infection, overeating, or gastroenteritis.

Treating and Caring for Dogs with Stomach Dilatation

This is not something you can ignore. GDV in a dog means an emergency call to your vet and hospitalization. Treatment is aggressive beginning with treating secondary cardiovascular issues if they have arisen and stabilizing the heart. Then gastric decompression has to be done and if necessary surgery completed to move internal organs like the spleen and stomach to their correct places. Other treatment may now include dealing with any organ damage that may have occurred. To prevent bloat happening again they may decide to complete a procedure where they stitch the stomach in place to stop it from being able to twist again.

After this initial treatment there will be painkillers to keep your dog comfortable and possibly other medications to take depending on what complications occurred. Back home the dog should remain resting for about two weeks more before trying to resume his normal level of activity.

Avoiding GDV in Your Dog

While the following suggestions may help lower the chances of your dog getting bloat it is still a possibility, especially if he or she is an at risk breed already.

When buying a puppy check his lineage to see if his parents were high risk dogs for GDV.

Learn the early signs for bloat if your dog is a breed more at risk.

Build a good relationship with your vet in case you need emergency care for your dog.


Breeds who are more susceptible should be fed two or even three meals a day and encouraged to eat slowly in a quiet place. They should be fed at floor level. At the moment there is no conclusive evidence about food size, fat levels, food moistening and other ideas some studies have come up with.

Water should be limited directly after feeding though made available all times for the rest of the day.

When making a diet change do so slowly over three to five days.

If your dog has had bloat once already and survived he is more likely to have it again so discuss managing it with medicines or preventative surgery with your vet.

Avoid lots of excitement and exercise an hour before meal times and two hours after.