Causes for Bloat

GDV tends to occur in dogs that eat a large amount of food and drink a large amount of water very quickly and exercise soon after. The stomach dilates when it fills with food and water and the gas that is produced during exercise. The accumulation of fluids, food, and gas cause the stomach to twist, blocking the openings leading into and out of the stomach so that food, water, and gas cannot escape.

As the stomach twists and turns, it reduces the flow of blood through the nearby blood vessels, creating serious problems in abdominal organs that are dependent on a steady blood supply.

Symptoms of Bloat

The symptoms of acute GDV are:

  • distended or bloated abdomen,
  • excess salivation, and
  • nonproductive retching.

Other common symptoms include the following:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid breathing
  • Restlessness due to pain (especially in the early stages)
  • Weakness

Diagnosis of Bloat

Diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms and the dog's medical history. A dog that is suffering from bloat is usually in shock; appears depressed; and has a large, distended abdomen. It is not possible to differentiate between simple dilatation and dilatation and volvulus until an x-ray of the dog's abdomen determines if the stomach is displaced or not.

Publication Review By: the Editorial Staff at

Published: 01 Mar 2001

Last Modified: 05 Jan 2015