Bloating in dogs is a life threatening condition that used to scare the daylights out of me. It can happen so suddenly and with very little warning.

When you’re the owner of large dogs like we are, you can’t help to worry.  However, that was many years ago and our worrying has grown to simply applying what works for our dog’s stomach health.  There are many things that you can do to cut the odds down of your dog ever experiencing bloat.

It is imperative that you get to know what’s normal for your dog – this is critical.

This article isn’t meant to scare you to the point that you run your dog to the vet every time his belly has a little rumble or he decides to sleep in a different place. It is meant to make you more observant of what’s normal for your dog and what’s not!


What Exactly Is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat is when a dog’s stomach fills with gas and prevents the dog from releasing it. The stomach stretches and can also completely twist or flip which is known as gastric torsion.

If the dog’s stomach does twist or flip, you literally only have about 30 minutes to get your dog to the emergency room or he will most likely die.

There is no sugar coating this condition. One minute your dog is fine and the next minute he’s gone. You MUST FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH THE SYMPTOMS AND PRECAUTIONS of this deadly condition.

It typically effects large dogs such as Great Danes, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Labrador Retrievers, Standard Poodles, Irish Wolf Hounds, Weimaraners and St. Bernards. These aren’t the only breeds, but this will give you an idea.

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What Causes a Dog to Bloat

Several years ago, I interviewed Linda Arndt aka “The Great Dane Lady.”  Since Linda was a well known breeder of Great Danes and they top the list for dying of bloat, I wanted her input.

Factors Believed To Contribute To The Condition

  • Poor diet (large quantities of kibble, oily and fatty foods are believed to increase the risk)
  • Feeding one large meal daily
  • Family history
  • Gulping food
  • Yeast
  • Stress – LARGE FACTOR (lack of exercise, dog shows, new pets, aggressive behavior and basically ANY KIND of stress)
  • Over eating
  • Over weight
  • Drinking too much water after eating, or in a short period of time
  • Excessive exercise right before or after eating
  • Older dogs
  • Weak stomach lining
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease aka IBD or Irritable Bowel Syndrome aka IBS
  • Back Injuries – See my article here where I discuss how a veterinarian found a direct correlation between spinal problems and bloating.

Symptoms (All may or may not be present)

  •  Pacing
  •  Resting in out of the ordinary places
  •  Salavating, heavy panting and/or whining
  •  Anxious, uncomfortable
  •  Agitated
  •  Dog trying to vomit but can’t, yet may bring up a foam. Initially may try to vomit every 10-20 minutes, then every 2-3 minutes
  •  Excessive gagging and drooling
  • Hunched over or in a praying position
  • Can’t sit or lay
  • Curled up in ball position
  • Dog shaky, standing with legs spread
  • Gums start as dark red and as dog bloat worsens – gums turn to white or blue.
  • Increased heart rate and weak pulse
  •  Biting at the air
  •  Starts with a swollen abdomen which MAY/MAY NOT be noticeable. Abdomen becomes larger with bloat; tight and hollow when you tap it using several fingers.
  •  Rumbling belly – Keep a VERY close eye on your dog and look for any other bloating symptoms listed above. NOT EVERY RUMBLING BELLY indicates bloat, but it can. Like most dogs, my doberman would get a rumbling belly when she would drink too much water.

The key is to GET TO KNOW YOUR DOG AND WHAT IS NORMAL FOR HIM OR HER.  If your dog can vomit or burp, then chances are the stomach hasn’t twisted yet.


A product with Simethicone such as Mylanta is good to keep on hand and can be used at the following dosage: small dog = 6 oz.; Medium dog = 8 oz.; large dog = 12 oz. It’s important to walk your dog around after giving the Mylanta to try and release the gas.



picture of doberman for article on dog bloatBelieved To Aid In Prevention of Dog Bloat Long Term

  •  Feeding a high quality, high protein, kibble free diet – Especially grain free since yeast ferments in the belly. Never feed raw dough of any kind including bread, pizza crusts, etc.
  • You can decide on raised bowl issue yourself. However, despite what you read, we still recommend using raised feeders.  Read our very controversial article here.
  • We personally know of a dog owner who fed her dog bread crusts as a treat one evening and her doberman died of bloat that same evening. The only thing she did different that day – was feeding bread!
  • Have your dog’s spine checked by a Chiropractor that works on pets. It’s believed that there may be a direct link between spinal injuries (or predisposed hereditary problems) and bloating. Learn more here.
  • Strong stomach lining.
  • Feed several meals daily (our own dogs eat twice a day).
  • If your dog gulps his food – purchase a “bowl that slows the dog down when eating.  We spread the food out on a large cookie sheet for my doberman, but I don’t feed kibble.  Again, we raise the cookie sheet by placing it on a small bench prompted up against the pantry wall.
  • Avoid allowing your dog to consume grass.  An occasional grass nibble is okay, which we believe that dogs will do to get a boost of chlorophyll or greens.  However, anything more than that should alert you to the point that the stomach is NOT healthy.
  • Allow your dog water at all times – but don’t allow him to drink excessively right after he eats. If you’re dog has a habit of doing this, pick the water up for a little while and put it back down maybe an hour after he eats. NEVER WITHHOLD WATER.
  • Don’t excessively exercise your dog an hour before eating or 4 hours after eating.
  • Include supplements such as digestive enzymes, probiotics and fatty acids.
  • Eliminating stress is a HUGE MUST in terms of prevention. Give nervous dogs their space and allow them to eat in private. It is believed that happy, relaxed dogs are less likely to experience bloat or gastric torsion.
  • We highly recommend that you take a look at this supplement which includes digestive enzymes and probiotics in powder form.
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Showing 15 comments
  • dan beaudreau

    My vet recomended i have my great dane’s stomach tacked when i had her fixed. He says that with a healthly diet it is nearly impossible for her to bloat. Can you weigh in on this aspect of bloat prevention?

    • yourolddog

      Hi Dan:

      I’ve always had very large dogs such as dobermans and labs. My own lab weighs 135 lbs. Both of these breeds are very susceptible to bloating just like danes.

      I’m a nut about their stomachs; meaning I pay close attention to what’s going on in their belly. I don’t want to hear a lot of noise, etc. I’m in agreement with your vet that by feeding your Dane a healthy diet, the chances of bloating are very slim. I will go one step further though and say, by feeding a high protein diet of different meats, fish and egg along with green veggies (cooked super soft or raw diced very, very small) and little grain IF ANY; your girl should thrive with little stomach issues. If she gets too much stomach acid due to the protein, I recommend Acid Ease which are all natural and made for sensitive stomachs. I use this for my big girl Maggie. 3 with each meal.

      DO NOT over feed. I can’t say this enough. DO NOT OVERFEED. Mix up the meat and add organ meat as well.

      I hope this helps Dan.


  • nina

    I think Whitey was running and butting his head on the wall because he was in excruciating pain. I’ll always feel guilty about that…
    He gulped his food, too. He had an iron stomach and could/would eat anything, so the bloat took me by surprise. One Christmas I had an unopened 3 pound box of chocolates set back on a table. My nephew called me at work to report that the dog was throwing up black stuff. I went out back to look around and there were little cellophane wrappers all over the yard. There was a couple of pieces left in the box-I guess he got sick of them. 3 POUNDS! Of course I took him straight to the vet. Because he was such a big dog, vet said he would be O.K. The caffeine in chocolate can cause an irregular heartbeat. A smaller dog would have been in trouble…
    Another time I came home from work and there was flour on the floor. I looked outside- the yard was covered in white! He ate at least 2 lbs. of the 5 lb. bag! I called the vet again…said he would be fine as long as the flour wasn’t self-rising! lol

  • nina

    Poor Whitey, the black dog with bloat! I managed to get him into the car using a towel under his belly to lift him in-he was collapsing. I knew it had been too long. The vet may have been able to untwist the stomach, but surely there would have been tissue death from lack of oxygen. At the E.R. I did the kindest/hardest thing and had him put right to sleep. :<(

    That was 10 years ago, maybe they can do more for bloat now. Just the thought of it strikes terror in my heart! He was almost 14, but the 10 months prior were good to him. One more post to tell about the best money i ever spent….

  • nina

    My dog (big lab/dobie) would have foamy saliva vomit until he would finally puke up a little piece of plastic or such. One night he threw up a gallon of saliva over an hour or so, but his guts finally settled. I searched for the offending plastic, but never found any. I believe this was his first bloat. Months later, it started again, and I kept an eye on him, not overly concerned. He went outside and was running around and around, then stopped and butted his head into the wall over and over. What on earth? I opened a vet site on the computer, as soon as i opened the index, i knew-BLOAT! I’d always thought that a dog with bloat could not vomit. Actually, he wasn’t. All that saliva never made it to his stomach. Big symptom-LOTS of saliva in vomit.

    • admin

      Hi Nina:
      Thanks so much for these very informative posts! I’m so sorry that you lost your old dog to bloat. The thought of bloat runs chills down my spine when I think of it. It comes on quick and hard with little time to really think about what’s going on. That’s the first that I heard of a bloating dog butting his head – very sad.

      It think that we’ve come a long way with regards to food and feeding practices from 10 years ago that certainly play a huge role in a dog’s digestive health and the number of bloating cases. You have to watch for odd behavior of any kind including the vomiting and not procrastinate, because unfortunately there just isn’t time to waste.

      Thanks for this post Nina!
      Janie 😮

  • Beverly

    A bit confused on the ‘raised bowl’ issue in conjunction with the ‘slower pace bowl’. I found a great slower pace bowl but it is will not fit in a raised container and none of the raised bowls I’ve seen have the “slower pace/feed bowls”. How can I used a slower feeding bowl and still have it raised?

    • admin

      Hi Beverly:
      I actually use a little bench for my dobie who eats like there is no tomorrow. I ran into the same problem with the brake-fast or slower pace bowls and the raised bowls. I ended up just using a little bench that I had in storage to raise it up. I put her the pantry an shut the door and she likes it this way. I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for any raised dog bowls that come with break-fast bowls.

      Janie 😮

      • Beverly

        Thanks so much for the reply Janie! Great idea.

        • admin

          You’re very welcome Beverly! 😮

  • admin

    Hi Eve:
    That’s what I do with my dogs as well. Rest an hour before and after eating. Yep and I couldn’t agree more about the 2-3 smaller meals for both us and our dogs. Give Dillon a hug for me!


  • Dillonsmom

    One of the reasons my dogs rest at least an hour before, and a hour after each meal………….2 X daily…friends used to think I was “extreme” now they do the same V B G smaller meals at least 2-3 times a day is much better, actually for people also l o l

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