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Symptoms of Bloat In Dogs

A Dalmatian wearing a red collar eating out of a silver bowl
Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM autor of symptoms of bloat in dogs

Many pet owners who have large breed dogs have heard of or maybe even had a dog who had bloat. This is a condition where the stomach flips over and causes the stomach to become distended. This can be a very life-threatening and painful condition see in deep-chested dogs.

There are many things that you can do to help prevent your dog from bloating. There are also things that you should do if you think that your dog has become bloated. This article will cover the signs and symptoms of bloating and what you should do if your dog ever bloats.

What is Bloat in Dogs?

Bloat is also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus. This is the medical term for bloat. This word pretty much means that the stomach has become enlarged, flipped over, and twisted on itself — this cause and obstruction of the outflow and sometimes intake of the stomach.

Bloat can occur in many different ways, what most commonly happens is if your dog eats and drinks to quickly and swallowing air as they do or exercising too quickly after.  

Once your dog's stomach has twist causes, your dog's stomach will become distended. You will notice that the belly has become swollen. This usually happens very quickly. Bloat is very common in deep-chested dogs such as German shepherds, Standard poodles, and Great Danes.

A bloated dog needs to go to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Due to the high-risk factors, this is usually a life-threatening emergency because of the blood flow that gets cut off from the heart and stomach lining. Bloating will also cause a blockage in your dog's GI tract, which can be very painful.

While there are other things that could cause your dog's stomach to become distended, such as pregnancy or heart disease, it is better to make sure as soon as possible. If you notice your dog's abdomen becoming swollen, seek veterinary care immediately.

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Symptoms of bloat in dogs

These are some of the most common signs seen with a dog who is bloated. If you notice any of these signs, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. This can be a very serious condition that must be treated as soon as possible.

Hard, distended, or bloated abdomen

The most common sign seen in dogs who have bloat will be a hard-distended abdomen or an abdomen that is slowly increasing in size over a few hours. This can be hard to see on dogs who are very hairy or overweight. Lean dogs with short hair these signs can be very noticeable.


If your dog is trying to throw up, but nothing is coming out, this is almost always a sign of bloat. Dogs with bloat with try to throw up as this is a way for their body to try to move the stomach around.

Excessive drooling

Excessive drooling in dogs will be another key sign of your dog having a potential health problem. Your dog’s saliva cannot get into the stomach, so they end up producing a lot of drool.


Bloated dogs will be very uncomfortable and painful. When your dog has abdominal pain, they will have trouble laying down and getting comfortable. Your dog will also be very restless. These are some of the first signs seen with bloat. If you notice this even before your dog's stomach starts to become distended, seek veterinary care or at least closely monitor your dog for stomach distention.

Rapid heart rate and pulse

An increase of heart rate and pulse is a sign of distress early on in bloated dogs. This begins when blood has trouble flowing through the body. When the stomach flips over, the normal blood supply to the stomach and other abdominal organs can be shut off. This would cause your dog's heart rate and pulse to increase. You can feel your dog's pulse in there front and hind legs. If you notice an increase in heart rate, seek veterinary care.


Dogs who have a bloated stomach will be very weak and may collapse. If your dog ever collapses and cannot get up, take them to your veterinarian immediately. This is one of the early signs that your dog may be dying.

6 symptoms of bloat in dogs infographic

How to Treat Bloat In Dogs

Bloat cannot be treated at home. If your dog is bloated, take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will take x-rays of your dog's abdomen, and they will be able to tell if your dog has bloated. A bloated dog is very easy to diagnose based on signs they present with and classic signs seen on x-rays.

Emergency Surgery

If your dog has bloated, your veterinarian will recommend that they have emergency surgery. Your veterinarian will pass a stomach tube to help decompress the stomach and get the excess air and gastric content out of the stomach.

In surgery, they will turn the stomach back over to its normal position and tack the stomach in place. This will help prevent the stomach from flipping back over. Even with emergency surgery, the prognosis for a dog who has bloated is 50/50. Your veterinarian can tell you more about the surgery and the prognosis for your dog, depending on his clinical signs.

Preventing Bloat in Dogs

Fortunately, preventing bloat in dogs is more easily accomplished then some might assume. There are many ways that you can prevent your dog from ever bloating. Most of the time, a dog becomes bloated after eating food, then exercising very strenuously or running around a lot. These are just a few tips to help prevent bloating.

  • Feed small meals: By feeding your dog in small meals a few times a day will help decrease the chance of bloating.
  • Feeder toys: Many pet stores have feeder toys. This product helps slow your dog down when eating.
  • Decrease exercise after feeding: Allow your dog to rest for about an hour after eating. This will make sure they fully digest their food.

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Bloat can be a very serious and scary condition. Your veterinarian can help you determine what has caused this and how to go about treating this problem. With the correct care and prevention, many dogs who are prone to bloat can have their lifestyle modified to help decrease their chance of bloating.

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Meet The Author 

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM author of symptoms of bloat in dogs

Dr. Sara Ochoa DVM

Since she was a little girl, she knew that her dream was to become a veterinarian. With a tremendous passion and love for animals that makes her a great source of knowledge for others. She lives happily with her husband Greg and her babies Ruby the Schnoodle, and Bam-Bam the bunny.

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