Dog Bloat and Gastric Torsion – Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

by Reena Bakir
dog bloat

While dog bloat is considered a relatively common condition, it can easily turn dangerous and even fatal at times if left untreated. Usually occurring as a result of the dog’s stomach rapidly filling with gas, dog bloat can easily lead to many other dangerous issues such as twisting of the stomach, also known as gastric torsion.

It’s vital for every owner to recognize the symptoms of bloating in dogs, as well as becoming familiar with the causes in order to prevent it!

What are the causes of dog bloat?

While the direct causes of bloating are still uncertain, it should be pointed out that some breeds, especially larger breeds with deep chests, are more prone to exhibit this condition due to more space in the abdomen vulnerable to accumulation of gas. Other possible causes could include:

  • Overeating or eating too quickly
  • Excess drinking of water
  • Intense exercise right after eating a meal
  • Stress due to swallowing more air while anxious
  • Type of food (fermented food products especially could produce gas at a rate that cannot be efficiently passed by the dog’s body)

dog bloat

Gastric Torsion often occurs as a result or in combination to the bloating, meaning they can occur simultaneously or the torsion can be a consequence of the bloating. In both cases, gastric torsion is incredibly dangerous and requires immediate attention and veterinary care.

What are the symptoms and side effects?

If left untreated, even for a short amount of time, the effects of dog bloat and gastric torsion can begin to take effect relatively quickly and the end result can easily turn deadly if veterinary care is not administered. This is mainly due to the swelling of the stomach which occurs because of the torsion, which in turn presses against all of the surrounding organs. Breathing will therefore become extremely difficult, veins and arteries can also become clogged and restrict blood flow, which leads to organs shutting down.

Symptoms of torsion and dog bloat to look out for include:

  • Visible gut bloating
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Gagging and unproductive vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Obvious distress which includes panting, pacing and paranoiadog bloat

The danger of dog bloat and gastric torsion lies in the fact that the dog’s state can deteriorate in a matter of hours or minutes, making it vital to spot the symptoms instantly and rush your dog to the vet.

What are the methods of treatment?

While the treatment will often be different considering the different severity of cases, usual protocol would include an x-ray to examine the state of the dog’s abdomen and stomach in order to decide if there would be a need for surgery. Your vet may choose to carry out a gastric decompression to stabilize your dog which includes passing a tube through the esophagus and to your dog’s stomach, or to puncture the abdominal wall by clipping a small patch of skin to allow for the decompression of the stomach and restoring of regular breathing.

The next step to be followed, if necessary, would be surgery to re-position the stomach after it has become twisted. The vet can also fasten the stomach in place to ensure that gastric torsion does not occur again at a later stage.

dog bloat

Can it be prevented?

Keeping an eye on your pet while they eat is essential to ensuring that they don’t fall prey to this complication. It is important to provide normal-sizes portions for your dogs and not to allow them to overeat. Even limiting the pace at which they eat can also prove beneficial, where owners can give food in smaller meals rather than leaving all the food out at once for the dog to slurp up. Investing in feeding bowls which help slow down a dog’s eating can also aid in the prevention of dog bloat and gastric torsion. Moreover, it is extremely important to be aware of the type of food you are feeding your dog and make sure it does not cause excessive gas!


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