How to stop bloat in dogs

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus complex (GDV), commonly known as bloat, is a complex, life threatening condition. It occurs mainly in large breed, deep chested dogs such as Great Danes, Dobermans, Wolf Hounds etc but can be a threat to any breed.

What is Bloat?

GDV is a condition where the stomach swells up, either with food or gas (or a combination of both) and then continues to a point where the stomach actually twists on itself, blocking both the inlet and outlet to the stomach. This is a life threatening condition that requires immediate emergency veterinary attention/decompression surgery. Even with the best care, success rates for emergency GDV’s can be as low as 40% so it is a condition to be very mindful of.

Common Causes of Bloat in Dogs

The most common cause of GDV is a feed of dry food, followed by a large intake of water (which causes the kibble to swell up) with a final addition of exercise or play after eating (but this component is not necessary to cause bloat). Foods that can ferment in the stomach and form gas are also a significant risk factor.

Mythbuster: Drinking cold water is NOT a known trigger for bloat, so please don’t panic about this dubious information that appears on Dr Google every now and then.

Tips for preventing bloat

  • Feed a natural diet: a diet consisting of balanced fresh meat is extremely unlikely to cause bloat as it is naturally moisture rich and does not swell in the stomach or produce significant gas.
  • If you do feed dry food: feed small amounts at a single serving and restrict access to water for at least an hour after feeding and avoid exercise after meals. Adding some fresh meat to your pet’s diet will also help to reduce any swelling. Soaking kibble before feeding is also useful.

Dr Bruce Syme BVSc (Hons), Founder of Vets All Natural.

Dr Bruce Syme is a practicing vet and expert in natural pet nutrition, has spoken at the Australian Veterinary Association Annual Conference, and provides regular comment on TV and Radio.

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Disclaimer: The entire contents of this article are based upon the opinions of Dr. Bruce Syme, unless otherwise noted. The information is not intended as medical advice, it simply shares the knowledge and information from the research and experience of Dr. Bruce and his community. Pet health care decisions should be based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified pet health care professional.
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