We know you don’t want to see Fido in pain. This is why it’s extremely important to know why he’s suffering and what you can do about it. Dog bloat or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV) is a disorder of the digestive system that can be deadly. Bloat is the second largest killer disease after cancer and yet many dog owners know very little about it.

Bloating of the stomach happens when it’s filled with gas, fluid, or food. The expanded stomach stops blood flow from the hind legs to the heart. Blood starts to collect at the back end of the body sending the dog into a shock. What’s worse is that stomach may start turning or flipping completely cutting off the blood flow to the spleen and the pancreas. The pancreas, in turn, releases a hormone deadly enough to stop the heart. The food tube (esophagus), upper intestine (duodenum), and region of the stomach that connects to the duodenum (pylorus) also get blocked. So the dog can neither release the gas by belching nor can it vomit the excess food out.

The bloat of the stomach is very rapid and can obstruct veins leading to the abnormal circulation of blood, shock, low blood pressure, damage of internal organs, coma, and death.

Dog bloat symptoms

  • Attempting to vomit every 5-30 minutes with foam, mucous, or nothing out (sometimes called the hallmark symptom of bloat)
  • Unsuccessful attempts to defecate
  • Significant anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Cold mouth membranes
  • Heavy salivation or drooling
  • Abdominal swelling after meals
  • Abdominal pain (the dog will whine if you press on his belly)
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Whining
  • Pacing
  • Heavy panting
  • Seeking a hiding place
  • Licking the air
  • Looking at the abdominal region often
  • Refuse to lie down or sit
  • Curling up in a ball
  • Excessive water drinking
  • Attempt to eat small such as stones

As it gets worse, the dog may start to show these symptoms: 

  • Pale or white gums (dark red in the initial stage and white or blue in the later stage)
  • Collapse
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Weak pulse
  • Apparent weakness
  • Shallow breathing

If you notice these symptoms, take your dog to the vet immediately. The treatment depends on the condition of the dog.


  • Dr. Winnie, Veterinarian

    Dr. Winnie earned a Master in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria's Veterinary School. She is a full-time Veterinarian specializing in internal medicine for companion animals.