• Spot the signs early

How to Deal with Bloating

We all know the feeling of discomfort after eating a large meal, which usually involves a certain level of bloating and a sense of self-loathing. Albeit uncomfortable, bloating in humans is quickly remedied by our natural digestive systems or by resting for a period of time. In dogs, however, bloating can quickly become a serious and life-threatening condition that would require immediate medical attention.

What is bloating and what causes it?

The correct medical term for bloating is Gastric Dilation Volvulus, where the dog’s stomach fills with air, fluid and or food causing it to dilate. As the stomach begins to dilate and expand, the pressure in the stomach increases.

The enlarged stomach twists, leading to a cut off in the blood supply to and from the stomach. The entire body suffers from poor ventilation as pressure on the diaphragm increases, resulting in the dog being unable to breathe properly. 

The consequences of this condition can be disastrous, and if medical attention is not sought immediately the chances of survival are slim.

Not all cases of bloat, however, result in the stomach twisting. In milder cases, dogs who simply eat too much or too quickly can develop bloat. Also, strenuous activity or exertion not long after eating can also lead to milder bloating.

There is a definite link between the breed of dog and the risk of GDV, with the most at risk being larger breeds such as Great Danes, Saint Bernards, German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers. The more severe cases of bloat are found in larger, older dogs.

What are the symptoms and treatments for bloating?

The signs of GDV will not be subtle and you will notice immediately when your dog seems unwell, but look out for:

  • Bloating
  • Episodes of belching or retching without producing anything
  • Restlessness and pacing
  • Excessive salivation
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Pale gums
  • Weakness

The first step is to bring your dog to your local Medivet practice as soon as possible. GDV should always be treated as an emergency, even if you may not be entirely sure it’s the case.

There your vet can assess your dog’s condition, and determine the best course of treatment – which may include surgery to relieve the pressure in your dog’s stomach.

How do you prevent bloating?

  • Large dogs should be fed 2-3 times daily, rather than once a day
  • Strenuous exercise should be avoided one hour before and two hours after meals
  • Limit water supply around meal times
  • Keep dog bowls on the ground as this will result in a lower intake of air
  • A nutritious diet is crucial – food that is high in carbohydrates is more likely to cause bloating. Speak to your vet about food recommendations specific to your pet’s lifestyle.
  • Preventative surgery is available but it would also be best to speak to your vet to discuss the best option for your canine companion.

If you suspect your dog has GDV, treat it as an emergency and take it to your local Medivet as soon as possible.


If you would like more information on bloating in your dog, do not hesitate to contact us or speak to your vet at your local Medivet practice, where they will be able to offer you highly specialised advice.

To make an enquiry click here or find your local practice