Gastric Torsion/Bloat in Dogs
with information taken from Carlson & Giffon

(This article is dedicated to Hershey, a chocolate Labrador who died of Gastric Torsion. If even one person learns about this disorder and takes precautions, his death will not be in vain.)

If you own a deep chested dog such as a Labrador Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, Akita or Great Dane you must be made aware of Gastric Torsion or commonly referred to as Bloat.

Bloat is caused by too much gas or fluid in the stomach. This gas can extend the stomach causing gastric dilation. If the stomach partially rotates its called gastric torsion. If it fully rotates its called gastric volvolus. Each can be a life threatening problem.



The signs are excessive salivation and drooling, extreme restlessness, attempts to vomit and defecate, evidence of abdominal pain (the dog whines and groans when you push on the stomach wall) and abdominal distention. It's important to know the history of the dog. Has it eaten recently? Drunk water? Has it been running or exercising within 2-3 hours of eating?

In Hershey's case, he had eaten some grass which caused gas to form in his stomach.

If the dog is able to burp or vomit you can usually rest assured that the gut is not twisted. Give GasEx by mouth. Make sure you walk the dog after giving the GasEx until the bloat is relieved or until you can contact a veterinarian. If the bloat is relieved at home, it would still be a good idea to contact your vet to let them know the dog bloated. IF YOU ARE UNSURE, RUSH THIS DOG TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY. THIS COULD BE THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH FOR YOUR DOG. Once a dog bloats, it will usually bloat again in the future.


The initial signs are the same for Gastric Dilation except more severe. The distress is more evident. There could be rapid breathing, pale gums and the dog may collapse. The shock like symptoms are due to the strangulation of the blood supply to the stomach and spleen. RUSH THIS DOG TO THE VET IMMEDIATELY. Surgery is needed to relieve a torsion or volvulus. The chance of a recurrence is about 15 percent.


Knowing of this problem is the first part of prevention.

These measures may prevent some cases of bloat but will not prevent all cases. Being aware might be the difference between life and death for your dog.


Gastric Dilation and Volvulus in Small Animals

Bloat First Aid

Purdue University study on bloat dilitation/volvulus

The Great Dane Lady's bloat page

Signs and symptoms of bloat

Bloat information


Dr. Carlson & Dr. Giffin's book "Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook" is available through Amazon.

1998 - LRM (revision 12/17)

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