Bloating: When is it an Emergency?

The feeling that you have when you’re full to the brim after consuming far too much food and we commonly refer to as the “food baby”. We can usually sleep it off and feel much better in the morning but dogs may not be so lucky.


You may be asking, what is bloating in dogs? Typically speaking, bloating is when a dog’s abdomen is enlarged or swollen. The problem we have with dogs is that it can develop further and become an extremely distressing life or death situation for them.


German shepherd dogs with probiotic food supplement

How do you know when your dog is bloated?

Apart from the obvious swollen or distended abdomen that you can see, there may be other signs that your dog is experiencing discomfort.

The early stages of bloating may include, but aren’t limited to, symptoms such as:

  • Restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Painful abdomen
  • Retching
  • Rapid breathing
  • Collapsing
  • Overall distress

Bloating in dogs is life threatening if it develops further into Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) so it is important to know which signs and symptoms to look out for.


GDV in dogs is when their stomach has swollen so much that it flips or twists, trapping the gas inside. It puts pressure onto the surrounding organs and cuts off the blood supply back to the heart. 

It is not entirely understood why it flips, despite many studies, only that it can be fatal within one hour if it does.

Some dogs are more prone to bloating than others due to factors such as being deep-chested and/or history of bloating in the family. 

Those that eat too quickly, use elevated bowls or exercise after a heavy meal are also prone to experiencing bloat.

Breeds most prone to dog bloat are (but not limited to); 

Akita, Bernese, Bloodhound, Boxer, Bull Mastiff, Collies, Dobermann, Longhaired Pointer, German Shepherd, Great Dane, Greyhound, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Napoleon Mastiff, Ridgeback, Saint Bernard, Poodle and Weimaraner. 


What to do if your dog is bloated

If you notice any signs or symptoms or have any reason to believe that your dog is experiencing Gastric Dilation Volvulus, immediately take them to see your closest emergency vet.

Call ahead so they can be well prepared for your arrival. Timing is crucial when dealing with bloat in dogs. The quicker your dog is seen, the higher their chances are of surviving. 

Do not try to treat dog bloat at home. There are no safe medications, supplements or home remedies to give a dog that is suffering from bloat/GDV.

If in the case that your dog is not suffering from bloat, your mind will be rested and your dog will be in the hands of a professional that can best find the real problem.


dalmatian prone to bloating

How can you treat bloating in dogs?

Treating bloat in dogs very much depends on the stage they are at in their bloat. 

Those that are bloated without the presence of volvulus can be treated non-surgically. Their stomach is decompressed to release excess gas. 

Those with volvulus present need to first be treated for shock, followed by a surgical procedure to untwist their stomach. If the stomach wall is damaged, it is removed. The stomach is then ‘tacked’ to the abdomen wall, (gastropexy).


How can you prevent bloating in dogs?

There are of course measures that can be taken to prevent bloat from occurring in your dog. 

Ensure that they rest after eating every meal, avoid anything that may count as strenuous exercise for at least one hour after eating. If they must exercise, ensure it is a casual stroll. 

If you know that your dog is a fast eater, prepare their meals into smaller portions and have them eat more frequently throughout the day. You can also use special bowls or puzzle mats to slow down their eating as well as stimulating their mind. 

Keep their chosen bowl or mat low down or on the floor as elevated bowls may contribute to the causes.

Some even opt for a procedure called gastropexy. This is a surgical procedure that involves attaching the stomach to the abdominal wall so it is unable to twist in the event that bloating occurs.

It doesn’t entirely prevent bloat but it does prevent the fatal turning of the stomach, the worry that it will occur in future and the vet bill!

Using a Probiotic for dogs that are already prone to bloat is a great way to regulate their gut and keep the risk to a minimum.

They aid digestion and the breakdown of food as it is consumed. They also help to provide a balance between bacterias, creating a healthy environment in the gut.



Petz Park Probiotics for Dogs features a blend of prebiotics, probiotics and hemp to relieve problems such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, yeast infection and stomach discomfort.

It is a fantastic addition to a dog’s diet and allows you to have peace of mind that your dog’s gut is optimal and looked after.

Any age or breed of dog can enjoy this Australian made probiotic supplement by sprinkling it over the top of wet or dry food. If they’d prefer it mixed in, that’s perfect too!


See more articles by Petz Park:

Living The High Life: Hemp and Its Benefits for Dogs

The (Dog) Crap No One Tells You

Dog Dental Care: Steps That Pet Owners Should Take