Life-Threatening Bloat in Dogs and What You Should Know

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this post is intended to be for informational use purposes only and does not constitute the providing of medical advice, judgment, diagnosis, or treatment. Please seek out and only take medical advice from your veterinarian.

We’ve all seen it. We’ve cried to it.

Marley & Me, the book and film featuring Owen Wilson, Jennifer Aniston, and the wild dog named Marley who gets himself into hilarious situations.

The movie is full of laughs, family fun, friendship, and then takes a heart-wrenching turn when Marley develops a deadly condition called Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV), most commonly known as “bloat.”

Stay with me.

It hurts to talk about animals being in pain.

However, I feel that it's my responsibility as a dog mom to educate pet parents of Virginia Beach so that you’re prepared to make life saving decisions, should the unfortunate time ever come.

Also known as “stomach twist,” GDV is a life-threatening situation in which the stomach swells up with gas and then twists on itself. In this situation, the dog must immediately be rushed to the vet for life saving emergency surgery to untwist the stomach.

Vets aren’t really sure why it happens, just that it most often occurs in larger dogs, such as Great Danes, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers - although it can happen in in any size of breed.

It often happens when the dog eats or drinks a lot very quickly then is excessively active, according to

A daily walking client of mine here in Virginia Beach brought this topic up to me as well as her veterinarian at her dog’s latest checkup.

Tina is the proud dog mom of Azzie, a sweet, handsome large mixed breed, and is concerned about the possible risk of Bloat.

Her veterinarian recommended he undergo voluntary prophylactic gastropexy surgery as a preventative procedure in attempt to avoid potential stomach twist risk. Getting this done will basically join the stomach to the inner wall of the body so that it cannot twist. Interestingly enough, as I researched this topic, I found this surgery to be suggested from multiple sources.

Petmd goes onto suggest that there are possible ways to prevent bloat before it becomes an issue and that you should discuss it with your veterinarian.

Things they recommend you do to help prevent Bloat :

  • Try feeding several small meals each day rather than a heaping portion for every meal

  • Do NOT feed from an elevated food bowl. This one interested me in particular because I’d always thought it was better for their necks & backs.

  • Feeding meals in maze dog food bowls is a good idea. This helps the dog to consume at a less rapid pace, as well as engages his brain as he figures out how to get the bits out.

  • Offer water at all times so they aren’t tempted to drink it dry all at once.

  • Try to reduce stress, especially around feeding time. Don’t get your dog super excited about mealtime. Calmly have them sit before providing a meal.

There are a few symptoms you can look out for. If you see them, do see your veterinarian immediately. We recommend going to Blue Pearl Emergency Pet Hospital at 364 S Independence Blvd in Virginia Beach (have someone call to let them know you’re on your way so they can prep for emergency surgery).

Symptoms to look out for -

  • Breathing complications

  • Appearance of a swollen stomach area

  • Drooling & Panting

  • Sounds that indicate the animal may be in pain

  • Dry heaving

  • Pacing or restless behavior recommends an over the counter medication to keep on hand in the event of a bloat emergency: Gas-X. While it can be used on the way to the animal emergency hospital in the beginning stages of Bloat, really all it can do is maybe buy you some time.

Bloat is a life-threatening emergency that requires life saving surgery and you’ll have no time to lose to get your best friend to the veterinary hospital.

I know this is a lot of info to digest - enough to make your head spin!

If you have a larger breed, please talk to your veterinarian at your dog’s next checkup and see what they have to say about Bloat and whether keeping Gas-X on hand is a good idea for your pet, as well as what the recommended dosage should be for your dog if such a tragic case arose.

I have so many larger breed dog pals that I love & work with every day who I thought of while writing this post. Aslan, Cooper, Lily, Phoebe, Charlie, Eddie just to name a few ;)

Talk to your vet about Bloat. It could potentially save your animal’s life.

Take care,

The Paw Love Barker- A Pet Parenting Blog

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