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Bloat or gastric dilation / volvulus (GDV) can also be known as “twisted gut”. This is a very serious condition which should be considered life-threatening. If you suspect your dog has bloat then contact your veterinarians immediately. There are no home remedies and dogs can die of bloat within several hours.

GDV is a rotation of the stomach which entraps the gastric contents and stopping the blood supply to the stomach, spleen and pancreas. It is caused by the distension of the stomach by a mixture of air, food and fluid.

Particular large breed dogs are predisposed to this condition and include St Bernards, Boxer, Weimaraner, Collies, wolfhounds, Irish Setters, Basset Hound, Rottweiler, Doberman, Poodles, Great Danes, German Shepherds – breeds which are usually deep chested.

There has previously been an assumption that dry diets can cause GDV, but studies have since shown this to be an incorrect assumption. However, rapid consumption of food can contribute to this problem.

  • Try feeding 2 or 3 smaller meals a day rather than 1 larger meal
  • The rapid consumption of food can lead to swallowing too much air. (Also known as aerophagia).  Try  placing food on a flat baking tray – this will help decrease the rate of consumption
  • Although water should always be available, the over consumption of large volumes of water soon after feeding can cause problems. Limit the amount of water just after feeding – approx. same volume of water to food will
  • Overfeeding can be a problem – follow manufacturer guidelines and feed smaller portions
  • Feed dogs individually, for nervous dogs a quiet location is preferable
  • Feed dogs at floor level, avoid elevated feeders

  • Avoid exercise 1 hour before a meal and 2 hours after a meal

  • Large breed dogs which as deep chested (as listed above)
  • Older dogs, incidents increase as dogs get older
  • Males are more than twice as likely to get bloat than females
  • Nervous, anxious or stressed dogs  are more at risk
  • Dogs that have previously had bloat are much more likely to have another episode

If you experience a combination of the following:

  • Your dog retches from the throat but nothing is produced other than small amounts of frothy mucus
  • Your dog try to defaecate unsuccessfully
  • Your dog adopts the "Sphink" postion
  • Your dog's tummy goes hard / or swells up like a ballon and it as taut as a drumstick
  • Trying to bite, or worry, the abdoment
  • Your dog is very unsettled


Bloat is a true emergency - be prepared to drive to the surgery straightaway. The chance of survival decreaes alarmingly if you delay getting the dog to the surgery more than 60-90 minutes after the first signs.