Have you noticed your dog laying around the house looking generally upset? Maybe you can visually see that your dog's stomach fluctuates in size, or shape throughout the day. There are many signs of a bloated stomach, and the symptoms or red flags can vary from dog to dog. It's a challenge for pup parents, but it's something that you can assess yourself, and start working on immediately to improve their quality of life.
Of course, there are typical cases of gas, weight fluctuation, and sour stomach that aren't related to a bloated stomach. Here, we're going to cover precisely what causes bloat, how to assess it in your pup, and what to do about it.
What Causes or Contributes to Dog Stomach Bloat?
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus, or GVD, is the proper term for a handful of common stomach ailments that dogs can experience. Your vet may refer to gastric torsion, stomach bloat, bloat, or bloated stomach, but it all comes down to GVD.
What happens is that the stomach is swollen with gas, then from the pressure of the gas, the stomach twists. When the twisting occurs, the dogs can't relieve their discomfort through burping, passing gas, or even vomiting.
As the pressure in the stomach builds, there's additional pressure placed on nearby organs and even the circulatory system. Eventually, the pressure can severely impact the veins to reduce the amount of blood that reaches the heart.
There are a few key things that directly impact the risks or possibilities that your dog could experience stomach bloat:
- Extremely Large Dog Breeds - breeds including St. Bernards, Mastiffs, Dobermans, Boxers, Grey Hounds, Great Danes, and dogs with similar structures are at a high-risk of stomach bloat.
- Heavy dogs - dogs weighing over 100 pounds, whether that is normal for the breed or not.
- Eating only once per day - this increases consumption rate and the risk for bloat.
- Underweight dogs
- Male dogs
- Dogs between 2 and 10 years old
- Dog foods with high animal fats
- No water, or excessive water before or after meals
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Signs Your Dog is Suffering from a Bloated Stomach
The primary symptoms that most pet owners notice include:
- Over-sized stomach
- Hyper-salivation (excessive drooling)
- Heavy breathing, or trouble getting a full breath
- Lethargy - particularly tiredness without sleeping
- Dry heaving without vomit
- Whining - constant whining
These symptoms will often occur shortly after eating, especially if you noticed your dog was eating quickly or in taking a lot of air with their bites
Can a Bloated Stomach be Dangerous to Dogs?
Yes! Never underestimate the seriousness of a bloated stomach. Dogs with stomach torsion or GVD are at a high risk of cardiac arrest and shock because of the strain placed on their circulatory system.
GVD has an almost 50% mortality rate. That means that if your dog has GDV, you need to take immediate action to get emergency treatment and then long-term treatment as well. Even when you have emergency treatment, there is still about a 30% mortality rate.
The Skinny: Dog Bloated Stomach Home Remedy Prevention
Learning how to help dogs bloat with a home remedy should always start with their diet. If you notice signs of stomach bloat, you need to take immediate action. Your vet will determine what direct course of treatment is necessary, but the real way to handle a bloated stomach is prevention.
A raw diet is the best way to help dogs at high risk for stomach bloat to deter this medical issue. Avoid kibble or even premixed food and instead, focus on natural proteins and small amounts of starch.
If you're looking at the different dog food you can find on the shelf, look for food that has meat meal, bone, and fat in the top ingredients. Bones are also good as they can help strengthen their stomach muscles and even reduce gas.
The Go-To Dog Bloat Home Treatment
Some methods that can help reduce stomach bloat or the risk of stomach bloat include slow-feed bowls. These bowls have deep rivets that make it difficult for them to take large bites. You can also explore freshly prepared food, increasing exercise before meals, and eliminating exercise after meals. Finally, after a dog recovers from stomach bloat, they may require smaller spaced out meals throughout the day rather than one or two feedings.
Fur parents know that there's so much they can do to prevent some issues, but stomach bloat requires purposeful prevention. If you notice the signs of a bloated stomach, you should immediately take your dog to a veterinarian. It is an emergency and likely requires immediate medical intervention.