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!
AGAIN BLOAT IS A LIFE THREATENING CONDITION – IF YOU NOTICE YOUR DOG ACTING OUT OF THE ORDINARY AND DEMONSTRATING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING SYMPTOMS. GET YOUR DOG TO AN EMERGENCY VET NOW!
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.
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
- 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)
- Resting in out of the ordinary places
- Salavating, heavy panting and/or whining
- Anxious, uncomfortable
- 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.
KEEP IT ON HAND
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.
VETERINARY CARE IS A MUST AT THIS POINT IF YOU ARE EVEN CONSIDERING MYLANTA. THIS SHOULD BE USED ONLY TO BUY YOU TIME IN ORDER TO GET YOUR DOG TO THE EMERGENCY VET!
NEVER ASSUME BLOAT IS NO LONGER A THREAT!
Believed 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.