5 Ways to Prevent Bloat in Dogs

Some ways to prevent bloat in your dog are to reduce their stress, monitor their eating habits, and recognize any concerning symptoms.

Feb 12, 2024By Thalia Oosthuizen
ways to prevent bloat in dogs

We all love our dogs and want to keep them safe, right? That’s why every responsible dog owner should know how to prevent bloat. Put simply, bloat is a disease that’s found in large or deep-chested breeds, but it can show up in any dog. Without knowing the signs, it can turn fatal within a matter of hours, making prevention key.

Let’s talk about ways to prevent bloat and how to keep an eye on any concerning symptoms.

What Is Bloat?

Brown and White Dog Lying on Couch
Image credit: the Spruce Pets

Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV), is a life-threatening condition that quickly turns fatal if it goes untreated. To explain it simply, it’s when the stomach twists in on itself because of gas buildup. This leads to your dog getting a lack of blood flow to the stomach and other important organs. Without treatment, many dogs lose their lives.

GDV isn’t a common health concern with many breeds, but it’s not something to be overlooked, either. Thankfully, only 5.7% of dogs develop this condition in their lifetime. Yet, of those afflicted, there’s a high mortality rate, even with treatment.

Recognize the Symptoms of Bloat

Sick Irish Setter Dog Lying on Chair
Image credit: Irishsetterdogs.com

Some dogs have hard, swollen stomachs after eating, but this usually isn’t cause for concern. Yet, if you notice this symptom in conjunction with the indicators below, you should stop what you’re doing and go to the vet:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Having a pale nose and gums
  • Collapsing
  • Restlessness
  • Not being able to vomit

This condition will not go away on its own. It requires a veterinarian’s immediate attention to prevent the worst possible scenario.

What Breeds Are Susceptible to Bloat?

Great Dane Dog in Field
Image credit: First Vet

Any dog could develop bloat, but it’s most commonly found in the following breeds:

Many of these breeds have one thing in common: they’re large, tipping the scales at more than 60 pounds. Still, it’s important to know the signs of bloat and how to prevent it, as any breed could suffer from this problem.

Ways to Prevent Bloat

Saint Bernard Dog Lying on Grass
Image credit: Pawzy.com

There are some techniques that can reduce the risk of your dog ever developing bloat. These include:

Monitoring Your Dog’s Eating Habits

If your dog is a fast eater, helping them slow down can prevent bloat.

Try feeding them smaller portions spread throughout the day, so they’re not eating a big amount all at once. For example, instead of two big meals in the morning and evening, try three smaller ones. You can also invest in a slow feeder bowl, as they are literally designed to help slow down your dogs’ eating habits.

Slowing Down Your Furry Friend’s Drinking

Brown Poodle Lying on Carpet
Image credit: Pexels

Nobody wants to (or should) deprive their dog of water. Yet, if your dog gulps down water at breakneck speed, you may want to help them slow down. Doggy water fountains are great for this. They limit how much water your dog can drink at once, and even cats prefer them over water bowls!

Reducing Your Dog’s Stress

Stress is closely related to bloat in dogs. If you notice that your dog gets really anxious, impatient, or suffers from separation anxiety, they could develop this condition.

To make a start, try teaching them to calm down before you hand over their food. This shows them the right behavior, encouraging them to relax. If you’ve got lots of dogs in your house, it might be worth feeding them in separate rooms, so nobody gets nervous from resource guarding.

Understanding the Causes of Bloat

Weimaraner Dog Lying on White Couch
Image credit: Pexels

Like any illness in humans and animals, finding the cause of the issue can often help you come up with the best path for treatment. The causes of bloating in dogs are still a bit of a mystery, but some theories suggest it’s largely due to anything from eating too quickly to genetics.

Some specific traits or behaviors may cause or heighten GDV. Some risk factors include:

  • Having a deep chest. This is when the dog’s chest is oval-shaped, usually taller than it is wide.
  • Being lean. Veterinarians aren’t exactly sure why this leads to bloat. But some theories include how the dog’s organs are positioned in the body.
  • Eating food too quickly. The faster a dog eats, the more air goes into their body, leading to gas buildup.
  • Having serious anxiety. A dog may hyperventilate when it’s nervous, which, again, brings excess air into the body and causes gas.

The older a dog gets, the more likely they are to experience bloat. Many dogs’ risk increases once they hit the seven-year mark.

Scheduling Preventive Gastropexy Surgery

Gastropexy Surgery ic
Image credit: VCA Animal Hospitals

Okay, okay. Surgery sounds a little extreme, but for many breeds, it’s a lifesaver. If your dog is a breed that may be more susceptible to bloating or has experienced the problem before, it may be worth asking your vet about a gastropexy surgery.

In simple terms, the vet sutures the stomach to the abdominal wall, ensuring that it stays in place. This prevents the dreaded “flipping” that often leads to death. The surgery is minimally invasive and can be done laparoscopically, but it’s not a 100% guarantee that GDV won’t occur. Of course, surgeries come with their own risks, but it may be worth it to save your dog.

Only You Can Prevent Bloat in Your Dog

Dog Being Checked by Vet
Image credit: Wag!

We all know and understand how heartbreaking it is when a dog goes through something like bloat. As dogs get older and bigger, the risk increases of them developing bloat. Our aim is to keep you educated on dog diseases, guiding you in the right direction to keep them happy and healthy. If you do notice any symptoms in your dog, take them to the vet right away.

Thalia Oosthuizen
By Thalia Oosthuizen

Thalia has been a freelance writer for over a decade and a dog (and animal) lover for over 30 years. She grew up on a farm where, at one stage, she had 15 dogs. She currently has one dog, Avery - an adorable pavement special with an extra toe on each foot, and two rescue cats - Boris and Mango. In her spare time, Thalia enjoys running, cycling, swimming, and reading