Commonly called bloat, this is a life-threatening condition that affects large, deep-chested dogs, especially if they’re fed one large meal a day, eat rapidly, or drink large amounts of water or exercise vigorously after eating. Bloat occurs when the stomach is distended with gas or air and then twists. The dog is unable to belch or vomit to rid himself of the excess air in his stomach, and blood flow to the heart is impeded. Blood pressure drops and the dog goes into shock. Without immediate medical attention, the dog can die.
Suspect bloat if your dog has a distended abdomen, is drooling excessively, and retching without throwing up. He also may be restless, depressed, lethargic, and weak with a rapid heart rate. If you notice these symptoms, get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
It has been argued that the dog’s size and age are the most important things to consider when assessing bloat risk. Data suggests that the risk of bloat increases by 20% for large breeds after age 5 and 20% for giant breeds after age 3. After age 7, the risk increases significantly for any breed. Especially as your dog enters middle age or becomes a senior – remember to watch for bloat.
Some breeds of high concern for bloat: Afghan Hound, Akita, Alaskan Malamute, Bernese Mountain Dog, Bloodhound, Boxer, Doberman, Great Dane, Great Pyrenees, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Irish Setter, Irish Wolfhound, Kuvasz, Labrador Retriever, Newfoundland, Standard Poodle, Rottweiler, St. Bernard, Weimaraner.
See our Breed Guide for more specifics on your pet.