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Bloat in Dogs

05/05/2017 by Colleen Williams
May 5th, 2017 by Colleen Williams


As humans, we often find ourselves bloated after eating a big meal, maybe when we’ve had a few beers and a hot dog at a baseball game, or even if we’ve had too much salt. It can be uncomfortable, but we can pop a couple antacids or drink some ginger ale; it’s typically gone by the next morning. Dogs, however, have an entirely different situation when it comes to bloating. And it can be fatal.

What is Bloat in Dogs?

When a dog’s stomach fills with gas, it bloats. This expanding of the stomach puts pressure on a dog’s diaphragm, constricting breathing. The stomach can also twist, causing shock and even death. The technical name is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV).

GDV can be caused by swallowing too much food, fluid, or even air. It can occur with or without a full twisting of the stomach, however in most cases, as the stomach swells, it will rotate. The stomach then traps air, food, and water as it obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and even damage to internal organs. It is no joking matter and can kill a pup.


Larger breeds with elongated, deep chests are usually more likely to suffer from bloat. The most obvious symptom is an enlarged abdomen, present along with heavy panting and breathing, excessively drooling, dry heaving and unproductive vomiting, a weak pulse, pacing, and even collapse. Not all symptoms need to be present for a dog to be suffering from bloat.

Emergency Care

If your dog presents any of these symptoms, get to a vet right away! There, they can stabilize your dog and he or she will likely undergo gastric decompression. Make sure you have emergency veterinary contacts somewhere easily accessible because you will have to move quickly. The good news is that bloat in dogs is treatable when caught early.

Quality of Life Difference: In the past, vets would treat the symptoms of stomach problems without necessarily knowing the cause. With today’s new diagnostics, vets are able to determine an accurate diagnosis and effectively treat the root cause in your dog.

New Diagnostics
Digital X-Ray: $150 – $400, depending on the number of views
Endoscopy (camera down the hatch): $800 – $1,000
Biopsy: Up to $1,500
Ultrasound: $300 – $500
CT Scan: $3,000, depending upon how the pet is under anesthesia

Learn more about how the Healthy Paws dog insurance plan pays on your actual veterinary bill and covers injuries, illnesses, emergencies, genetic conditions and much more.


Since the chances of bloating increase with overeating and overdrinking, keep food portions reasonable and give your dog a little bit of time to digest before playing or getting rowdy. There are even veterinary recommendations for certain breeds to undergo gastropexy, a surgical procedure for breeds prone to bloat that prevents the stomach from twisting. When in doubt, ask your vet before something becomes an emergency.