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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Gastric dilatation-volvulus (otherwise known as bloat) is a common, potentially life-threatening disorder which occurs quite commonly in dogs.

Dilation of the stomach (bloat) can occur in any animal, but it is most common in large and giant breed dogs. The cause of this disease is still not fully understood. In some cases the stomach twists around it's axis (called volvulus) so that air that is swallowed cannot pass on into the intestine or be burped up. In other cases the stomach wall simply stops moving so that the contents do not get moved on properly.....this is called gastric stasis, and is due to a gastric motility problem. Theories about dry foods being a cause, or bacterial infections being a cause have not been proved. The author has seen several acute cases in dogs that have recently eaten rubbish ...but again this has not been proved to be the primary cause ...they most likely had a gastric motility problem first.

Signs of bloat include :

  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Abdominal distension
  • Increased salivation
  • Retching - without bringing up food

The most serious cases have huge dilation of the stomach which puts pressure on other internal organs, including major blood vessels. Death often occurs as a result of shock. 

A recent study *  has looked at the occurrence of bloat in a population of 1914 dogs of which the following breeds were included :

  • Akita
  • Bloodhound
  • Collie
  • Great Dane
  • Irish Setter
  • Irish Wolfhound
  • Newfoundland
  • Rottweiler
  • St Bernard
  • Standard Poodle
  • Weimaraner

According to the study the risk of these breeds dying from bloat was quite high - 7%. Of the dogs in the study 105 developed the disease and 30 of these died and the risk of developing the disease increased with increasing age.

(* Glickman et al, Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association (2000) 216, 40-45)

The Doberman and Gordon Setter are also cited as having a predisposition to develop this disorder (Gough A & Thomas A, Breed predisposition to Disease in Dogs and Cats 2004)

Owners can take sensible precautions to avoid bloat occurring CLICK HERE for more information