Bloat in Dogs: An Introduction to Canine Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)

Bloat is the common name for a combination of two distinct conditions: gastric dilatation, or volvulus. Bloat in dogs is an extremely fatal condition, and if you think your dog has bloat, do not try to solve the problem yourself. Immediately call a veterinarian and schedule an emergency appointment. It can take as little as a few hours for bloat to kill a canine, and even the best and speediest of treatments only have about a sixty five to seventy five percent survival rate.

Gastric Dilatation

Gastric dilatation is the part of bloat that gives it its name. In gastric dilatation, the stomach of the dog will, for one of a variety of reasons, fill up with a gas that will not naturally be released. In this inflated state, the stomach takes up much more space, and, since the internal organ cavity of a dog is of a fairly fixed volume, the stomach crowds the other vital organs out of their proper places. The most prominent negative effect of gastric dilatation in dogs is the pressure the inflated stomach exerts against the dog's diaphragm, which can severely restrict the dog's breathing.

Another harmful effect of gastric dilatation is the pressure the inflated stomach exerts on major veins and arteries, thereby restricting blood circulation. Dog's stomachs are made to stretch a little bit, so it is not a serious problem if your dog just has a little gas, but if it collects over a long period of time, and is not released out the dog's mouth, it could result in serious health problems, including the increased risk of a volvulus.


A volvulus is a condition commonly associated with gastric dilatation because a dog's stomach in a state of gastric dilatation is more likely to undergo a volvulus. This is an extremely painful and distressing condition for the dog. It involves the stomach dislodging from its normal place in the body and twisting around. As the stomach twists, it cuts off its own blood supply. With no blood circulation, the stomach dies, and soon the rest of the organism dies with it.


The most easily identified indicator that your pet suffers from bloat is if the dog's stomach and abdomen area swell to unnaturally large proportions. Some more signs of bloat to look for in your dog are ineffective vomiting, or retching without any discharge, or extreme salivation, which is a response to intense internal pain.

Since bloat is such a deadly health problem for dogs, it is important to know which dogs are at the most risk before you choose a dog for a pet. Bloat is much more likely to occur in big dogs with deep, narrow chests. It is rare for bloat to affect small dogs, but if, in the unlikely event that a small dog does contract bloat, the disease is just as serious. Male dogs are twice as likely to suffer from bloat as female, and older dogs are also more likely to contract bloat. If your dog has bloat, you may only have hours to save his life, so it is highly recommended that you immediately seek veterinary care.