bloated stomach in dogs causes symptoms and canine bloat treatement

Today we will talk about a silent and swift killer called Torsion/Canine Bloat, Bloated Stomach in Dogs or Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). This is a life-threatening condition that can affect any dog, but large dog breeds and deep-chested dog breeds are most at risk.

Our pets only bring unconditional love, joy, and companionship into our lives, so it is essential for us as responsible carers to be well-informed about their well-being.

In this article, we will be offering insights into the causes, symptoms, canine bloat treatment, and preventive measures that can help protect your beloved companion.

What is Torsion in Dogs?

Canine bloat, or GDV, mostly affects deep-chested breeds such as:

  • Doberman Pinschers,
  • Great Danes,
  • German Shepherds,
  • Weimaraners,
  • Standard Poodles,
  • Saint Bernards, and
  • Boxers.

This condition can occur when the dog’s stomach is excessively distended with gas, fluid, or food and then twists upon itself. This leads to disruption of systemic blood flow and obstruction of blood flow to the vital organs, which ultimately causes the dog to reach a state of shock.  With the obstruction of blood flow, toxic substances accumulate and tissue necrosis (degeneration) is initiated. Canine bloat develops without warning and its effects may progress rapidly. Bloat can last for hours without becoming life-threatening, or one may have only minutes to a few hours to save a dog’s life.

Causes of Canine Bloat

Several risk factors are associated with canine bloat.

1. Genetics:

Some breeds are at greater risk due to their physical build and genetics.

2. Diet and Eating Habits:

Fast eating, eating large meals, having only one meal per day, drinking large amounts of water immediately after eating, or raising food bowls can increase the risk.

3. Stress and Hyperactivity:

Hyperactivity or anxiety may be a contributing factor to canine bloat.

4. Physical Activity:

Rough play or exercise after eating.

5. Age:

Older dogs are more prone to GDV than younger dogs.

6. Underweight:

A thin or underweight dog might be more at risk.


Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

Recognising the symptoms of bloat is crucial and can save your dog’s life. Common signs include:

  • Swollen and distended abdomen
  • Restlessness and pacing
  • Severe pain and distress
  • Unproductive vomiting 
  • Panting or rapid breathing
  • Weakness or collapse

Canine Bloat Treatment

In GDV treatment, the immediate objectives are to stabilise the pet with supportive veterinary care, restore the dog’s blood circulation, and alleviate gastric distension. Following immediate stabilisation, swift surgical correction of the volvulus becomes crucial.

The duration of clinical symptoms of bloat is a critical factor that influences the risk of GDV-related death, and therefore it is of utmost importance to recognise and rectify this condition promptly.

How to Prevent Bloat in Dogs

As per the MSD Veterinary Manual, owners with dogs at increased risk of developing bloat are recommended to follow these guidelines to safeguard their dogs.

1. Feed smaller, more frequent meals:

Feed your dog three smaller meals throughout the day instead of one large meal to reduce the risk of swallowing air while eating. Do not use raised bowls.

2. Slow down feeding:

Help your dog eat at a slower pace with slow feeders, or hide their food in a few small helpings in the house or garden (do not hide their food near hazardous plants).

3. Avoid intense physical activity after eating:

Wait at least one to two hours after a meal before allowing your dog to engage in intensive physical activity.

4. Minimise stressors:

by providing a comfortable and secure area for your pets. Support their nervous system with natural calming aids if they tend to be anxious or hyperactive by nature.
Help them to release any bottled-up frustration or energy with daily exercise and play.

5. Veterinary care:

Your veterinary doctor can help identify and address risk factors early.

Bloated Stomach in Dogs Conclusion

Canine bloat is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition that could affect any dog.  Early intervention can make a life-saving difference, and your pet’s well-being is worth every effort and care.

Contact Dr. Jeanne-Marie Lambrechts, our expert naturopath and inventor of the UNTAMED Animal Health Pet Supplement range, for any guidance or advice relating to your cat or dog. 



  1. https://www.msdvetmanual.com/digestive-system/diseases-of-the-stomach-and-intestines-in-small-animals/gastric-dilation-and-volvulus-in-small-animals
  2. https://vmccny.com/gastric-dilatationvolvulus-bloat/#:~:text=What%20is%20Gastric%20Dilatation%2DVolvulus,warning%20and%20can%20progress%20quickly.




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