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How To Avoid And Prevent Dog Bloat

Updated on August 11, 2012

Bloat in Dogs - GDV - Be Prepared

Bloat, otherwise known as GDV (gastric dilatation-volvulus) happens in horses, it happens in cats and it happens in dogs. Whenever it happens and to whatever animal it happens to - it is a SERIOUS emergency. Contact a vet as soon as possible. GDV is the second highest cause of death in dogs (second only to cancer) and as many as 25-33% of dogs with GDV die.

You can take preventive steps to avoid the situation of bloat - and contrary to most people's beliefs, this medical condition does not only happen to large-chested dogs. Consider this - it happens to miniature poodles, it happens to Pekingese and it happens to the Dachshund. As well, it happens to the Alaskan Malamute, the Labrador or any retrievers, or the Great Dane.

Forewarned is forearmed. Hopefully this article will keep it from happening to your dog as I have lost a dog to bloat and it is a horrible way for an animal to die. The saying 'an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure' was never more true.

Some Breeds at Higher Risk for Bloat

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Tips on How to Prevent Bloat

  • Provide raised feeding dishes and water dishes - although there is some controversy as some sources say to avoid these
  • Avoid stress for your dog especially at feeding times
  • Avoid exercise for at least 1 hour BEFORE and especially AFTER feeding
  • Do not permit rapid eating
  • Feed 2 or 3 meals per day instead of only 1
  • Do not give water with the dog's meal - wait 1 hour
  • Always have anti-bloat products available (simethicone such as Mylanta Gas, Phazyme, Gas-X) to treat gas symptoms
  • Always have fresh water available EXCEPT at meal times it should be curtailed
  • Eliminate excessive stress for the individual dog's personality

  • Feed a high protein diet (30% at least)
  • Avoid foods that have fat in one of the first 4 ingredients
  • Reduce carbs as much as possible (they say that dog treats or dog bones have an excessive number of carbs)
  • Feed a high quality diet
  • Feed adequate amounts of fiber (at least 3.00% crude fiber)
  • Add an enzyme product such as Prozyme
  • Add herbs that reduce gas
  • Avoid brewer's yeast, alfalfa and soybeans
  • Promote acidic environment in intestines - some sources recommend 1-2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar after meals
  • Promote friendly bacteria in intestines - acidophilus
  • Don't encourage excessive rapid drinking of water as this increases the intake of air. Make sure the dog has water on demand and does not get excessively thirsty at home or on exercising

Recognizing the Symptoms

Myths About Bloat

  • My dog will get better. If you suspect your dog has bloat - do not hesitate. Call your vet - and if not available - call an emergency clinic as most dogs do not survive without assistance
  • Only large chested dogs can get it - case in point - miniature poodle, the basset hound and the daschund
  • You can treat it - you CAN and if you know the symptoms - yes BUT
  • Bloat is the second highest killer of dogs - only cancer is higher in percentages
  • It will get better - probably NOT - if you suspect your dog has bloat, do not hesitate. Have home remedies on hand and know the symptoms - but have an emergency animal clinic available if your vet is not
  • Err on the side of caution and take your dog in immediately.  Bloat (GDV) is a serious and life-threatening condition


Risks of GDV by Breed

Great Dane
Saint Bernard 
Irish Setter 
Gordon Setter
Standard Poodle
Basset Hound
Doberman Pinscher
Old English Sheepdog
German Shorthaired Pointer
German Shepherd
Airedale Terrier
Alaskan Malamute
Chesapeake Bay Retriever
Labrador Retriever
English Springer Spaniel
Golden retriever
Miniature Poodle
Courtesy of's article on Bloat (GDV) in Dogs

Raised Feeding Tray

Risk Factors for Bloat

  • Dogs that tend to be nervous anyway, anxious or fearful are at increased risk of developing bloat
  • Dogs that tend to 'freak out' when boarded or taken to the vet - or introduced to new environments
  • Male dogs tend to be twice as likely to develop bloat than females
  • Neutering does not seem to effect the risk of bloat
  • Dogs who are over 7 years of age are more than twice as likely to develop GDV as those who are only 2-4 years of age
  • There appears to be a genetic link to which dogs get bloat more easily so that would lead one to think of their structural anatomy. The incidence of bloat appears to be related to the depth and width of the dog's chest. If both parents have relatively deep and narrow chests then it is likely that offspring will likewise have deep and narrow chests and will necessarily be at risk for the problems associated with that trait. The higher incidence of bloat seems to be related to the configuration of the dog's chest
  • Dogs who are fed only once per day are twice as likely to develop GDV as those fed twice a day
  • Dogs who eat rapidly or exercise soon after a meal are also at increased risk
  • Dogs who have had bloat before are at extremely high risk for developing it again. This is what happened to our Molly and the second time proved fatal
  • A 'lifetime' risk analysis for large or giant breeds to develop bloat is between 22 and 24%
  • Dogs that display any tendency to have gastric upsets are at higher risk of developing bloat later on
  • Dogs that eat a kibble that expands 'too much' are at higher risk as that same kibble expands in their stomachs. A good test according to is to set aside a cup of kibble in a bowl. Add water and soak overnight. What you will see the next morning is how much that kibble 'expanded'. If it is excessive, change to another brand that will not expand as much. The higher the grade of kibble, the less it should expand
  • Change diets gradually over a period of at least a week if not 2, introducing the new food in part with the old food to avoid upsetting the dog's diet
  • Dogs that are high stress dogs to begin with have a much higher risk of developing bloat, especially as they age

Anti-Bloat Bowl

We recently purchased this anti-bloat bowl on Amazon because our Alaskan Malamute puppy Griffin is eating at an alarming rate and we could not get him to slow down. Even hand feeding him to try to slow him down was not working. I went in search of a deterrent and I found this bowl.

Because it has raised shafts in the bowl, he has to 'work' a little extra hard to get at his food, but just that exercise makes him HAVE to slow down. He cannot inhale his food as he was once doing and there has been a marked reduction in his hiccups and his belching/burping, regurgitating food, which was beginning to become a constant problem.

Another alternative our vet suggested was to put rocks in the bowl - but they have to be LARGE rocks obviously so that the dog will not swallow them. That effectively does slow them down as well but Griffin unfortunately is one smart cookie and figured out how to 'whack' the rocks out of the way and get to the food. The anti-bloat bowl seems to work well for him.

I am still on the fence about the raised dishes for feeding. Our vet said that yes it was a good idea because our dogs are large - but then studies show that they are in fact worse for bloat and can increase the risk of a dog getting bloat. I would discuss it with a breeder or a vet if you are uncertain.


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    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 7 years ago from Central Oregon

      Thank goodness - what a horrible thing! We had to buy that special bowl for Griffin months ago because he was literally inhaling the food - no matter if we put it up or kept it down - we even tried hand feeding him for a while - wow that fun! So far so good - we have a raised feeder for Denaya and that seems to work. Maybe one of these days we can transition the Griffin to it but do glad Grendel did okay! We have to interrupt Griffin even from drinking water - not sure what the deal is - he acts like he is never fed - or given water!

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 7 years ago from Georgia

      Our Harlequin Dane, Grendel, was throwing up a lot after he ate and drank. His food bowl was raised, but his water bowl wasn't. About 2 weeks ago, I decided to raise his water, too. He hasn't thrown up since!

      I've been lucky. Of all the Danes I've had, not a one has ever suffered from bloat!