Dog Bloat: Signs, Symptoms, and Prevention

With Thanksgiving coming up, we’re all focused on preparing that big Thanksgiving feast for our family and friends. With all the company coming and going and all the food in the house, it’s inevitable that your pooch is going to be eating some things he shouldn’t, possibly when you’re not looking! Unfortunately, one of the most common dog emergencies seen at vet clinics this time of year is dog bloat. Overeating of high fat foods is a leading cause of this condition. Sadly, this condition is fatal in nearly 50% of dogs, even with veterinary intervention.

What is Dog Bloat?

Dog bloat is a condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach expands rapidly with fluid and gas. The stomach then turns and twists off the stomach at both ends, trapping the gas and fluid, which eventually starts to ferment. Sadly, the buildup of pressure in the stomach can become fatal in a matter of just a few hours.

Is Your Dog Susceptible to Dog Bloat?

Although any dog can get bloat, there are certain breeds that are especially susceptible. If you have one of the following breeds, you should be especially cautious:

  • Basset hounds
  • Boxers
  • Bloodhounds
  • Standard poodles
  • Dachshunds
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Great Danes

Overweight dogs and middle aged or older dogs are more likely to get bloat, too. For a dog that is more susceptible, you should serve his meals in small portions. Don’t let him gulp down large amounts of water all at once. And, if he has just eaten a meal, make sure he has time to digest it before any sort of vigorous exercise. Try to keep him from rolling over onto his back, especially after meals, if you can.

What Symptoms Should You Watch For?

Unfortunately, bloat can happen very suddenly, and it usually occurs right after a dog drinks a huge amount of water or eats a large meal. Here are the main warning signs you need to watch out for:

  1. Your dog is gagging like he needs to vomit, but nothing comes up.
  2. He is drooling more than he usually does.
  3. His stomach feels swollen and tight.
  4. He seems like he’s tired, but he’s pacing, and he can’t seem to get comfortable.
  5. He’s clearly in pain. He’s groaning, grunting, or whining and his stomach is especially sensitive if you press on it or touch it.

As the condition progresses, the dog may have a pale tongue and gums. He may also show signs of shock that include problems with his breathing, a weak pulse, or a rapid heart rate. He could also simply collapse.

Rush your dog to the nearest vet immediately if you suspect bloat. If his stomach has twisted, the only way to save his life is with emergency surgery.

The bottom line? Prevention is the best solution! Be sure your guests know that your dog cannot have table scraps. Keep leftovers out of reach. Make sure your dog can’t get into the trash. If you do choose to give your dog a little sample, make sure it’s nothing fatty and only give him a bite or two, nothing more. Nothing could ruin your holiday faster than losing your pet to this often preventable condition.