How to prevent bloating in dogs?

How to prevent bloating in dogs?

Have you ever heard that feeding from a raised bowl will help prevent bloat in dogs? What about adding water to your dog’s kibble? These are common recommendations to avoid bloat. But what if I told you these things can actually increase your dog’s risk of getting bloat?!

What is Bloat?

Bloating usually happens when there’s an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid, and/or foam in the stomach (“gastric dilatation”) sometimes brought on by stress. Bloating can make the stomach twist (albeit it can happen without it too). When the stomach twists, both ends of it close off, blocking both entry and exit. So then there’s no way for the air built up in your dog’s belly to get out. Not only that, if the air can’t get out, neither can the fluids, foods or gases. 

Because there’s no way for the stuff in your dog’s stomach to escape, his belly will start to bloat. As gases build up more, they put pressure on his diaphragm and make it hard for him to breathe.

The pressure also cuts off return blood flow to the heart and at this point, shock sets in. 

All of this can happen in as little as 20 minutes. Which is why it’s so important to act fast. Because GDV (the official term for bloat) is deadly if you don’t. 

Most people may not immediately recognise the severity of the situation until too many symptoms present themselves. As well as being potentially fatal, bloat is also extremely painful and therefore it is important to know the signs to look out for.

Symptoms of bloat in dogs:

  • Retching but being unable to vomit
  • Drooling
  • Panting
  • Shaking, shivering
  • Being restless
  • Abdominal pain when touched
  • Collapse or loss of consciousness

Bloating in dogs often happens right after your pooch eats. If you think your dog has bloat, take him to the vet immediately.

Dog breeds prone to bloat

Any dog can suffer bloat but breeds that have a deep and narrow chest are more susceptible than others. Some breeds are more prone to it and these breeds include:

  • Great Danes
  • St Bernard’s
  • Weimaraner’s
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks
  • Dobermans
  • Irish Setters
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Akitas
  • German Shepherds
  • Labradors

Whilst those breeds above are more susceptible to bloat, it can happen to any breeds. Age, size, and stress can also contribute to its potential.

How to prevent bloating in dogs?

  1. Don’t exercise for at least an hour before or after eating
  2. Feeding little and often could reduce the risk of bloat
  3. Slow down your dog’s eating. There are special bowls you can buy or simply add a large clean rock to the bowl so your dog has to slowly serve himself rather than gulp down big portions
  4. Always keep fresh water available
  5. Maintain a healthy weight as both under- and overweight dogs are more susceptible to bloat

Other preventative steps

  • Feed your dog a mix of wet and dry food
  • Reduce carbs, especially soy and cereals in the diet (if you want to be good at reading dog food labels, you can read our article on Debunking food labels)
  • When switching dog foods, do so over several weeks
  • Avoid dry dog foods that have Fat as one of the first 4 ingredients as well as Citric Acid
  • Feed your dog 30% high-protein, and at least 3% crude fibre
  • Avoid brewer’s yeast, alfalfa, soybean products
  • Promote friendly bacteria using probiotics, but no need for supplements, just get some kefir or plain Greek yoghurt as natural is always better than synthetics!
  • Don’t let your dog drink water too fast

How about raised bowls?

Many people were told that raised bowls help to prevent bloat but this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Studies have shown that in large and giant breeds, using raised bowl significantly increased the risk of bloat!

Research shows that in 20% of cases in large breed dogs, and 52% of giant breed cases, bloat was directly related to having a raised food bowl.

It makes sense too. In the wild, dogs eat off the ground. Nobody’s propping their meal up on a log for them! So having his food at ground level is a much more natural posture for your dog! 

Please get in touch, if you have any questions on the subject.


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