What is Canine Bloat?

Canine bloat (gastric dilatation-volvulus) is a rapid swelling of a dog’s stomach, which becomes filled with excess gas, fluid or food, enlarges, and twists the esophagus and intestines shut. Bloat is an unpredictable, life-threatening emergency that primarily occurs in large, deep-chested breeds like Great Danes, German Shepherds, Collies, Dobermans and Boxers. Although the cause of bloat is unknown, eating and drinking too much and too fast seem to be contributing factors, along with heavy exercise after eating. Symptoms of bloat include vomiting, dry heaves, weakness, restlessness, excessive drooling, pale gums, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, cold body temperature, and standing with the head and neck extended. Dogs with bloat will go into shock, collapse and die if not treated. A veterinarian will X-ray the dog’s abdomen and may attempt to decrease the pressure by decompressing the stomach. Emergency surgery is required if the stomach has rotated. After a bloating incident, a dog’s chances for another occurrence increase. Your vet may suggest a surgery to tack your dog’s stomach in place in hopes of preventing a recurrence of bloat.