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Beware of Bloat: The 2nd Largest Killer of Dogs

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When you hear the term “bloated”, you may not give it much credence.  It sounds quite benign, probably just a little gas or full feeling from eating.  However when it comes to dogs, that is the farthest thing from the truth.  Bloat is the second largest killer of dogs, second only to cancer.


Bloat occurs when air fills in the dog’s stomach, putting pressure on surrounding organs and compresses the large veins in the abdomen.  This pressure prevents blood from returning to the heart and the stomach can flip.  Once the stomach flips, irreversible tissue damage and death begins.

Bloat is an equal opportunity killer, it can happen to any dog.  Yes, there are certain predispositions which may make your dog more susceptible, but no dog is immune.  

Keep an eye out for these warning signs:

  • Lethargic demeanor, wobbling, or trouble standing
  • Swollen stomach
  • Trying to throw up but nothing comes out
  • Pacing and restlessness due to discomfort
  • Shallow, short breathing
  • Excessive salivation

Watch this very informative video.  Thankfully this dog was saved, but you can only save your dog if you quickly notice the signs and immediately get them to a Veterinarian.

Important Concepts to Know:

– Bloat is more likely to occur after eating.  

– Dry dog food can increase the chance of bloat, as it expands in the stomach.  

– Avoid exercise/intense play (running, jumping, high excitability, etc.) within one hour of eating.  Activity just before or immediately after eating can substantially increase the chance of bloat.

– At the first signs of bloat, immediately take your to the Vet.  Do NOT wait to see what happens.  Dogs only have a couple hours to live once bloat develops – Time Is of the Essence.

– Be cautious of dogs drinking a lot of water right after eating.

– Feeding two or three smaller meals per day is better than one large meal.

– Older dogs and nervous/anxious dogs may be more susceptible.

– When in doubt, take your dog to the nearest Vet.  Educate yourself on the location of your nearest 24 Hour Veterinarian clinic.

I am not a Veterinarian, so this article should not be taken as medical advice.  I am just a trainer and dog lover who wants to help keep dogs safe and in their homes.  Bloat is the second leading cause of death in dogs, so educate yourself with the facts in order to keep your pet safe and healthy.  Consult with your Veterinarian on what you should look for and do specifically with your dog.

Steve Reid is a professional dog trainer who specializes in puppy and adult dog training.  To learn more about Steve and S.R. Dog Training, visit www.srdogtraining.com. Also become a fan of Steve on Facebook at: www.Facebook.com/SRDogTraining.

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  1. Avatar Of Deb Smith

    Deb Smith


    Someone also needs to do the same kind of educating for Messenteric Torsion. Similar to bloat but dealing with the entistines. I believe alot of dogs pass away with Messenteric Torsion; however, alot of vets don't know that that was the cause because the dog was never opened up for exploratory to know for sure if that's what it was. My dog passed away 1 year ago today with it. Same symptoms as bloat. I rushed her into ER right away at 10:30pm on a Sunday night, authorized surgery at midnight once recommended by the ER Vet (Vets thought she had a blockage), vets didn't call the surgeon until 4:30am next morning, vet got their at 5am, opened her up and said this isn't a blockage it's messenteric torsion, her insides were black from organs dieing no way to save her 80% of her entistines were dead. I had to say my goodbyes to her on the operating table while she was still under anesthesia. I don't wish this on anyone. Painful to this day & images in my mind have never left me. My poor baby. Please someone, educate on this terrible illness as well. It has the same symptoms as Bloat & every minute counts.

  2. Avatar Of Cathy



    I wish this post had been around last year. My Parson Russell Terrier had a bloated stomach and we would take her into the vet to get her stomach drained. After reading this article, I may have put Kizzy to sleep when it was not necessary. The vet never mentioned that there was a possibility of a twisted stomach. She was diagnosed with liver disease. Feeling angry now at vet as not a whole lot of testing was done to determine what was going on with Kizzy.

  3. Avatar Of Ella



    Thank you!!! I saved this article a few years ago after watching the clip a few times. After today, well I knew this morning what I saw was not good. My 3year old Bernese MountainDog started acting weird and as I was watching him I knew it was bad. Within an hour we were at the vet. He was not even swollen yet but in a lot of pain and discomfort. He emediately went in for X-rays and as soon as they knew it was bload opened him. My boy is safe and staying at the animal clinic tonight.
    The video-clip shows all the signs – I shared it again today on my FB page – surely it must have saved a lot of precious lifes. Thank you again

    • OMGosh, Ella! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us – we're so happy you took the time to learn about bloat and watch the video and that it (along with your quick thinking!) saved boy's life. <3 All our love for a speedy recovery.

    • Avatar Of Steve Reid Steve Reid says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your story Ella! I am SO happy to hear that your precious dog was saved as a result of my article. Your quick action and good judgement is what made all the difference. I hope your dog makes a full and speedy recovery, and thank you for sharing your story and this article with your friends, the more people who know what to look for the safer our dogs will be.

      • Avatar Of Ella



        Thank you again Steve!
        The video helped alot- you want to know what to look for. I've always been very strict with resting after eating, but somehow I never knew that too much water before or just after eating can also be bad.
        Yoda is well, eating little portions every hour on Antibiotics and Anti-inflamatory pain meds.
        I shared your article on our vet's FB page and I am happy to see that some people have shared it too

  4. […] is the second leading killer of dogs, with a mortality rate of nearly 50%. It is absolutely crucial that you understand the […]

  5. Avatar Of Jackie



    I think this is what my yorki had .. Her stomach swelled from 16ins to 23ins. She had the runs really bad. First vet said it was heart problems that heart was not pumping fluid because it was weak. I took her to another vet who did tests and couldnt find what was wrong but treated her for IBS. She was on highest dose of anti biotics and steroids. They kept telling me I will lose her. She went to a bag of bones except her swollen stomach. I was told to just feed her on the anti alergy food that they supplied. On New years eve 2014. she was so ill and weak i thought its time to let her go.
    When an old dog we hafd years ago was ill the vet said feed him chappie dog food. I tried my yorki with it even though I waqs told any other food could kill her. I gave her just a spoonful ..then an hour later another and she started to feel a bit better. I then fed her every two hours then 6 times a day and night. She started losing the bloatedness and putting on weight. By June 2015 she was off all the medication and in August 2015 She was a normal healthy dog again.
    Sadly in June this year she was ill , couldnt eat. Vet found a tumour in her throat and it had started on her other organs so we had to let her go.

  6. Avatar Of Terry



    A laparoscopic gastroplexy can prevent this as well. It should be considered during neutering especially for police K9s which have cost their departments and/or cities a considerable amount of money to purchase and to train.

    • Avatar Of Susan



      My lab died unexpectedly with very few signs of twisted stomach. I was always cautious when feeding her. However this happened with nothing in her stomach. She passed away within just a few hours of acting strange/uncomfortable. Those were her only symptoms. I definitely recommend having gastropexy on any dog potentially susceptible to this problem during their spay/neuter. This can save their life. The vet mentioned they recommend the procedure to the most susceptible dogs, however labs were not one they normally target. As in my situation, it can be very difficult to detect at times especially before it is too late, so the best way to prevent it from ocurring in your dog is through gastropexy.

  7. Avatar Of Cinmann Cinmann says:

    Believ me this can happen to any breed. Large dogs to small dogs. My shih tzu died from this because the dumb ass vet said only large barrel chested dogs got this. How wrong he was.

  8. Avatar Of Laurel O'Connor

    Laurel O'Connor


    Thank you, for sharing that important information.

  9. Avatar Of Lori



    Thanks for this article! My St Bernard suffered from bloat at 4 months old! He survived but there was precious little info out there about bloat and after care. my vet said she had never ever done bloat surgery on a dog that still had his puppy teeth. Very scary. He will be 4 on Thursday and we have not had any recurrence- feed him only grain free dry food and have kept Gaviscon tablets in the medicine cabinet for him just in case we ever need to buy time to get him to the vet god forbid that ever happens again

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