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Bloat / Gastric Dilation Volvulus GDV)

When a dog’s stomach fills with gas, it bloats. The expansion of the stomach puts pressure on the diaphragm, which causes labored breathing.

The stomach will twist (gastric torsion), causing terrible shock, loss of blood flow to vital organs and rapid death if not treated. GDV is always an emergency.

Bloating can happen to any breed of dog at any age. However, large, high energy breeds with deep chests like Great Danes, Setters and Weimaraners are more likely to suffer from this type of emergency. Bloat has been associated with heavy exercise immediately after eating or drinking large amounts.

If your dog is showing some of these symptoms, they may be experiencing bloat:

  • Enlarged abdomen

  • Labored breathing

  • Excessive drooling

  • Choking / unproductive vomiting

  • Weak pulse

  • Paleness of the nose

  • Paleness of the mouth

Primary Cause

Although there are environmental and genetic factors that remain unknown, the chances of bloating are increased by overeating and excessive drinking. Allowing a dog to exercise or roll around shortly after a meal can also cause problems.

Immediate Care

Take your dog to a vet right away if you suspect that he or she is suffering from GDV. The vet will be able to stabilize your pet and will likely begin gastric decompression. You may need to treat your dog for the symptoms of shock on your way to the emergency hospital.


Providing your dog with normal-sized food portions and allowing him or her time to rest after a meal can help prevent bloating. Give your dog 30 minutes or so to relax and digest or consider feeding your dog several smaller meals a day.

Many veterinarians recommend that breeds more commonly affected with bloating undergo prophylactic gastropexy, a surgical procedure in which the stomach is attached to the body wall to prevent it from shifting or twisting. The surgeons at Animal Specialty and Emergency Center of Brevard can perform this surgery laparoscopically – minimizing downtime and discomfort for your dog. The gastropexy can be done in conjunction with a spay or neuter procedure if you desire.

If you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, do not wait any longer. Seek treatment now to save your pet’s life!