Before it happened to my dog, I didn’t know the signs of bloat in dogs. Nor did I realize how serious and life-threatening it is.
Unfortunately, now I know way too much about canine bloat!
Bloat kills about 30% of the dogs it affects — and it’s how my beloved Golden Retriever, Beau, died.
Bloat can kill a dog within minutes. It is a true medical emergency that requires immediate veterinary treatment. Even with immediate care, 25% to 40% of dogs with bloat do not survive. Source
We got Beau as a puppy before we had children. He was our baby. He had an amazing disposition and personality.
He loved the water and loved our first baby so much that his favorite place to sleep was under the crib.
One night shortly after eating his dinner, going for a family walk, and playing with the neighbor’s dog… Beau seemed a tiny bit more subdued than normal. We also noticed that he was trying to vomit, but nothing was coming up. We gave him some water and he seemed a bit better, then it was time for bed.
What happened next — over the course of 36 hours — was devastating.
What follows is my story of losing our dog unexpectedly to bloat and:
- Signs of bloat in dogs that you should watch for.
- Tips for preventing bloat in dogs.
- What to expect if your vet tells you that your dog’s stomach has twisted.
- Some dog bloat treatment options.
5 Important Things You Need To Know About Bloat In Dogs:
#1 – You might not even know your dog has bloat.
The term bloat in dogs could just as easily be called a twisted stomach.
Sounds painful, right? It is.
Dog bloat — also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex — is a medical and surgical emergency.
Here’s what happens during a gastric dilation-volvulus (GDV):
As the stomach flips, it drags the spleen and pancreas along with it, cutting off the blood flow. The oxygen-starved pancreas produces some very toxic hormones. One, in particular, targets the heart and stops it cold. In fact, a dog can go through successful treatment and seem to be out of danger, when suddenly the heart stops. Source
That is exactly what happened to my beloved Beau.
We had no idea that his stomach had twisted — or how it had become twisted. He was treated quickly, survived life-saving surgery, but died from a heart attack the next day.
#2 – Know the signs — and call your vet immediately if you suspect bloat.
This is the MOST important thing to remember.
In our case, it was 9:30 p.m. on a Sunday night, and we didn’t call the vet. As it turns out… neither do most people.
Some of the signs of bloat in dogs are easy to miss. Beau was dry heaving and I thought it must have been a blade of grass or something bothering him.
He did seem slightly lethargic, but it was at the end of a day, and he had played hard with the neighbor’s Newfoundland… and it was bedtime!
We went to bed as usual — something I regret to this day. I awoke to find Beau curled up in between the back of the toilet and the wall. This was super odd as he usually slept at the foot of the bed, or on the floor on my side of the bed.
I called the vet and little did I know I was describing the symptoms of bloat. She told me to get him in the car and to bring him to her ASAP.
TIP: One of the most obvious symptoms of bloat in dogs is an enlarged abdomen — but Beau’s stomach was not at all distended.
You may also see these signs of bloat in dogs:
- Labored breathing.
- Drooling a lot more than normal.
- Trying to vomit but nothing comes up.
- Having a rapid heartbeat, but a weak pulse.
- Having a pale nose and mouth (might even look whiteish — which is a sign of shock).
Beau was in the early stages of canine shock, and we didn’t even know it.
Here’s a super helpful step-by-step chart showing what to do right away if you suspect bloat.
This video shows how to check your dog’s vital signs:
#3 – Even if you treat the bloat, your dog might still die.
If there’s any suspicion of bloat, take your dog to the nearest vet hospital. If the stomach has twisted, then emergency surgery is the only option.
The only way to treat it is to go into their abdomen surgically and untwist the stomach. The stomach is then sutured to the body wall to prevent it from twisting again. This is called a gastropexy. Source
According to our veterinarian, most of the dogs with bloat she saw in her office were already in shock and didn’t usually survive the surgery. She stated that most owners don’t recognize the signs of bloat in time — and the sad truth is that most often her clients thought their dogs were just tired. They would leave for work and come home to an unresponsive (or deceased) pet.
So after patting us on the back (literally), she told us Beau needed emergency surgery to try to flip the stomach back around, and she was going to have to staple it to the inside of his body so that it wouldn’t be likely to happen again.
So we signed the papers to allow all necessary measures to ensure that Beau would be ok. After an excruciating afternoon waiting for the surgery results, we were thrilled to hear he made it through the surgery — and we could go see him!
NOTE: This is the part of the story where it’s hard for me not get emotional because we questioned each one of these steps during (and after) Beau died.
After Beau had his life-saving surgery for bloat:
- We were told we had to transport our dog to an emergency 24-hour vet — because our vet that performed the surgery was not able to stay open overnight and monitor his progress. Let me reiterate… we were told WE HAD TO TRANSPORT our Beau who was in post-surgical critical condition.
- Beau was unhooked from his life-saving monitoring devices and fluid bags and we drove him in our Jeep (bouncing and worrying that he could throw a stroke at any minute).
- The emergency vet took Beau (he was lifted in and out of the vehicle by us) and he was again hooked up to fluids and monitoring devices. I made sure I knew everyone’s name, and they told me for the 4th time they had it under control. (I called to check on him 4 times overnight — they said he was making a “miraculous” recovery.)
- We were told to pick him up first thing in the morning and to transport him BACK TO OUR VET — and if all went well, we would be able to take him home that very next day. That. Didn’t. Happen.
TIP: If your dog needs emergency surgery, choose a location that will stay open 24 hours. This could save your dog! Here’s how to find an emergency 24-hour vet near you.
- We arrived to pick up Beau and take him back to our vet for continued observation and post-surgery care. He was again unhooked from all of his fluids and monitoring devices and he jumped into our car. (I remember cringing at this thinking, “How can he feel so good to jump into the car?”)
- We arrived at the vet and he was hooked back up to monitoring devices and fluids after he went to the bathroom with me outside. I had to go to work and was going to check on him at lunch (I worked about 5 minutes down the street). When I left he was sitting in his crate in the vet’s office.
- I walked across the street to get a cup of coffee — and was called when I was in line to order — that he had just died from a heart attack and I should come right back. I think he waited until I left the building — he was special that way.
#4 – Preventing bloat in dogs is very difficult to do, but it’s good to know the risk factors.
The most common denominator among dogs who’ve experienced bloat is anatomical — being a larger, deep-chested dog.
Here’s a list of dog breeds that are more susceptible to bloat. Just keep in mind… while the dogs on that light might be more susceptible, they’re not the only breeds to suffer from bloat. And small dogs can get bloat too!
Breeds with deep chest cavities — such as German Shepherds, Dobermans, Greyhounds and Great Danes — are more likely than others to develop a GDV. This is because of their anatomy, where the deep chest means their stomach is suspended in the abdomen — like a hammock from 2 trees. If there is a weight in the stomach (i.e., food) and the dog then rolls or goes for a run, the stomach swings on its mountings and potentially flips over. The twisted stomach is a sealed unit, and gas produced as a result of digestion cannot escape. Thus pressure builds up inside the stomach, causing it to swell. The blood supply to the twisted stomach is cut off, and this piece of bowel rapidly dies off. A combination of toxins, circulatory collapse, organ failure and shock means this condition is almost certainly fatal without treatment. Source
Other risk factors that increase the chances of your dog developing bloat include:
- Having a close canine relative that has experienced GDV.
- Having a rambunctious personality.
- Being stressed.
- Eating only one meal per day.
- Eating very quickly.
The likelihood that your dog will have an incident of bloat increases with age — there is a 20% increase in risk with each year of age.
#5 – Bloat is often deadly — but it’s not your fault.
We don’t know exactly why GDV happens. Some people do all of the “wrong” things, and their dogs don’t experience it, while some do all of what we think are the “right” things, and their dogs do. Source
Beau died after extremely intensive treatment and life-saving surgery to flip his twisted stomach.
The surgery was around $2,500, and we also had to pay for the overnight care. Of course, money was insignificant at the time — we just wanted our Beau to survive.
So, we’ll never really know what caused Beau’s stomach to twist, but our vet did tell us a few things that might have contributed to our dog’s bloat:
- We only fed him one meal a day and it was dinner.
- We allowed him to play rigorously with another dog shortly after eating.
Constantly watching for the signs of bloat in dogs can seem overwhelming — like you always have to be on high alert. But it’s worth it!
The Bottom Line (And Some Good News!)
Canine bloat is a serious, life-threatening condition that you cannot prevent — you can only watch your dog closely and try to eliminate as many risk factors as possible.
Now that you know the risk factors and signs of bloat in dogs, you have a better idea of what to watch for!
What does seem to help is feeding your dog more than once daily — 2 to 4 times is ideal. Slowing down the rate at which your dog eats using food puzzles also may help. Avoid high fat diets or those with added oils high on the ingredient list. If your dog is at risk, consider having preventive surgical gastropexy performed. Age, breed, family history, fear or stress, food gulpering, and once daily feedings all seem to be more important factors [than the type of dog food you’re serving] in the development of bloat and GDV. If you have a large- or giant-breed dog, talk to your veterinarian about how to reduce the chances your dog will develop this terrifying situation. Now go get a food puzzle and use it 2 or more times a day. Source
Now a bit of good news…
Since losing Beau to bloat, I’ve changed some routines for Bella — who is my best companion these days. I also keep an eye out for signs of bloat in dogs (mine and others… I can’t help myself).
Bella will eat her food very quickly — if I let her.
So, to reduce the chances of Bella getting bloat, I…
- Feed her 2 small meals during the day, rather than 1 large meal.
- Try to get her to eat slowly. (There are dog food bowls that help dogs eat more slowly.)
- Limit her activity, as best I can, right after eating.
- Monitor her behavior for about 30 minutes after mealtime.
I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not perfect or necessarily diligent at meal time — every single time — but I do my best.
If your dog gobbles up her food like Bella does, try one of these slow feed dog bowls.
And here’s some more good news: some dogs do survive!
This video provides a great description of bloat and how a dog named Hazel survived her bout with bloat:
And finally, check out this happy ending for a dog named Griff, who battled with GDV.
Hopefully, I’ve lessened your anxiety and you’ve learned something about what dog bloat is, why it happens, and how it’s treated — so if the unthinkable happens, you’ll get right in the car, head to the vet, and yours will be one of the dogs that survive.
Socks, slippers, sandals, boots… we humans have many ways of protecting our feet, but our dogs really don’t! Sure, you can try to put booties over your pup’s paws, but even if they don’t kick them off, those precious pads can still get dry and cracked.
In addition to coming into direct contact with all types of surfaces and terrain, pooches sweat through their paws and depend on them to absorb shock (remember – they don’t have sneakers for that!). Our dogs’ paws go through a lot, and if they become split and cracked, it can cause them a lot of pain and discomfort.
If your four-legged friend has chronically dry, irritated paws, make sure to take him to the vet: this could be a sign of a nutrient deficiency, an allergy, or even a serious medical issue. But if he’s given an otherwise clean bill of health, you can help keep his paw pads healthy and moisturized with a few simple steps!
1. Hot Pavement
When the weather gets warm, the pavement can get hot! Many people don’t realize that our pups’ paws are actually quite sensitive, but it’s true: if the ground is too hot to leave your palm on for just a few seconds, it can scorch and burn Fido’s feet. But even if the sidewalk isn’t sizzling, that toasty surface can suck the moisture right out of his paws!
2. Wintery Conditions
Likewise, chilly weather can cause paw pads to dry out. In addition to snow, ice, wind, and frigid temperatures, sidewalks and roads are often coated with irritants like sand and salt.
Adding to the point above, the salt used to melt ice in the wintertime isn’t the stuff you keep on your table — it can contain chemicals. When spring rolls around, the fertilizer on your lawn or garden can irritate your dog’s paws. And believe it or not, it’s possible that he’s sensitive to your household cleaners, especially those used on your floors or carpets.
4. Allergic Reactions
It may come as a surprise, but dogs can suffer from environmental allergies, just like us humans! The big difference is, their paws are completely exposed to these irritants because they don’t wear shoes! Believe it or not, food allergies can also lead to paw irritation. Sometimes these allergies make your dog’s feet itch, leading to compulsive nibbling and chewing that may result in painful infections or dry, cracked pads.
By taking a few precautions, you can help prevent paw pad irritation in the first place! If the temperatures are extreme and your pooch will cooperate and wear booties, this is a great way to keep those feet protected against inclement weather. If not, avoid walks on hot pavement and try to circumvent areas that are covered in salt in the winter. If the latter can’t be avoided, make sure to wipe your dog’s feet off as soon as he comes indoors. (Note: you don’t want to risk him licking that stuff off, either!)
If it’s an allergy or sensitivity causing your pup’s paws to dry out, consult with your vet about diet changes, supplements, or prescription meds, and try changing your floor cleaners to ones free of chemicals and/or fragrances.
But if your pooch already has dry, cracked paws, try…
2. Shea Butter
This popular ingredient is known for its moisturizing properties, for both humans and dogs! This all-natural substance is actually fat from nuts that grow on the African shea tree, but it does wonders for hydrating and soothing dry skin and paws. Shea butter is a wonderful solution because it’s non-toxic to dogs, so while they shouldn’t lick it off before it gets a chance to moisturize and sink in, it won’t hurt them if they do.
3. Coconut Oil
Like shea butter, coconut oil is natural and safe to use on your pup. It’s known for its antibacterial, antiviral, and moisturizing properties, and can be used as a homemade treatment for a multitude of skin issues. It may be hard to keep your dog from lapping it off their paws, though — especially if you already use it as a meal supplement or a toothpaste — but the longer it sits, the better it can help soothe irritation!
This multitasking herb is derived from a flower and known for its healing and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be applied in a gel form, and is a common ingredient in soothing salves because of its efficacy.
5. Omega Fatty Acids
These multitasking nutrients can ease allergies, calm inflammation, and help restore the natural oils in your dog’s skin and coat, providing relief from his tail to his paws. Consider getting a supplement free of common food allergens such as gluten, grain, and soy. As always, consult with your vet before making any dietary changes or additions.
It’s always important for your furry companions to stay hydrated, but it’s key if they’re suffering from dry skin or paws. After all, how can those feet retain moisture if their body is thirsty? Try to encourage your pooch to lap up a little extra by keeping his water dish full and fresh.
7. All Natural Paw Balm
A tin of non-toxic, pet-friendly paw balm that melts into paws can help your pup’s paws heal much faster.
Our Nature’s Butter™ Paw Balm is made from 100% all natural, ethically sourced, pet-safe butters and essential oils, poured by hand on a family farm in Northern Minnesota. This balm features ultra-hydrating ingredients that lock in moisture in layers, including some of the beneficial materials listed above. Not only does this balm ease discomfort, it can offer protection from further irritation. Part of our new line of soothing and moisturizing dog-safe balms. To learn more about the Nature’s Butter™ collection, click here.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified healthcare professional.
This new photo series of dog portraits is knocking our socks off. How often are you thisclose to a sweet doggy face (and not also getting a faceful of slobbery kisses?)
Photographer Chona Kasinger recently cruised the Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show in search of compelling dog faces, and boy, did she find them. From shockingly human, to highly boop-able, to downright cherubic, these are the mesmerizing results of her experiment.
Sure, you’re a dog person, and maybe you can recognize at least a few different breeds on sight. But things change when you get up close and personal, as these fascinating photos show. When you get down to eye level with a dog, a much bigger story unfolds,
Close-Up Photos of Dogs
Think you know your dog breeds? These dog portraits just might make you think again.
Portuguese Water Dog
Dogue de Bordeaux
Jack Russell Terrier
Old English Sheepdog
About the Photos
These dogs were participating in the annual Seattle Kennel Club Dog Show. For one weekend every year, dogs of all shapes, sizes, and backgrounds take Seattle’s major sports’ stadium by storm. The SKC Dog Show showcases a vast array of very good dogs as well as myriad opportunities to learn about them.
Yes, there are agility trials and “meet the breed” events, but the best part is enjoying the company of thousands of dogs at once.
While senior dogs don’t need as much exercise as puppies, it is still very important that they remain active. Regular play sessions get the blood flowing to the joints, which can alleviate pain and slow the progression of arthritis. Playing also helps prevent weight gain as the metabolism slows, and keeps your senior’s brain active, helping to stave off dementia! Besides, just because your pooch is aging, doesn’t mean he can’t still enjoy a good toy!
Whether your old pal loves to chase a ball, catch a frisbee, snuggle a plushie, chew a bone, or use his noggin, we’ve got the perfect toy!
1. The BetterBall™
Designed with shelter pups in mind, the BetterBall is perfect for dogs of all ages, including those with reduced vision, weakened jaw muscles, or dental issues. Made from durable, pet-safe, non-toxic EVA foam, it is tough enough to last, but pliable enough to be easy on brittle teeth. Senior pups can fetch, bounce or swim with this buoyant ball and the bright orange-red color makes it easy to locate during play.
If your elderly pooch can no longer run and fetch, the BetterBall also doubles as a treat toy! Simply stuff it with a favorite snack like healthy dental sticks or bully sticks and watch as your buddy exercises his mouth and mind getting to his prize!
Every time you purchase a BetterBall – or any Project Play toy – another will be donated to a shelter dog. Showing off their playful nature has been shown to get these pups adopted 70% sooner!
2. Bird Ball
The Bird Ball is the same size as a tennis ball, but “brings new life to the old game of fetch!” Each ball is two different contrasting colors making it easier for senior eyes to locate. There are 12 unique holes that create whistling bird chirps when it is thrown so dogs can track the sound!
3. Flexible Flying Disc by Project Play ™
Disc-loving seniors don’t have to retire just because they have dental problems! The Flexible Flying Disc by Project Play is made of soft but durable natural rubber to prevent pain or injury. Remember, jumping can be tough on old joints, so be sure your old buddy doesn’t overdo it!
Best Interactive Toys:
4. Project Play Brain Ball
These toys may look like simple treat dispensers from the outside, but inside are multiple levels of tiers to block the treats from falling out. Seniors must concentrate and get active in order to get their reward! As they romp, play, bite, roll and bounce, they are getting much-needed exercise while also giving their brain a workout! Available in four bright, fun colors.
5. Hedgehog Hide and Hunt Plush Toy
Senior dogs can keep their brains sharp and practice their coordination skills as they “hide” and “find” three adorable mini plush hedgehogs inside their matching den!
6. Nina Ottosson Puzzle Games & Toys
Brain exercises are just as important for 14-year-old dogs as they are for 14-week-old puppies! Nina Ottosson began designing puzzle toys for her own dogs to improve both their physical and mental health after she had children. Her toys are designed for all ages and intelligence levels so you can choose the best match for your old buddy!
7. Fresh Mint Scented Brushing Ball
This intricate chew toy is made of durable rubber, infused with mint scent, and covered in nubs and spikes to help grind away plaque on teeth and gums. The more your senior pup chews and plays, the cleaner his mouth will look and smell!
This unique rubber toy was originally created as a piece of agricultural equipment! When inventor, Mark Smith saw how much his dog adored gnawing on it, the AgriChew was born. The tough, yet flexible material is completely pet-safe and sturdy with just the right amount of give to be gentle on senior teeth and gums. Fill the center hole with small treats or peanut butter for an added chew incentive!
9. Senior Kong
Almost every dog owner is familiar with the red rubber snowman-shaped toy that is the classic Kong. The purple senior dog version is designed to be gentler on aging teeth and gums while still providing the chewing, fetching, and problem solving experience dogs love.
10. Hear Doggy Plushies
Dogs love the satisfying squeak they get when playing with their plushies, but as they age, hearing loss can cause them to lose interest in their favorite squeakers. The products created by Hear Doggy operate at a high frequency that is only audible to dogs. The toys are designed to give owners relief from incessant squeaking, but many dogs with partial hearing loss retain the ability to hear these higher frequencies, making Hear Doggy toys a great choice for senior pups!
11. Stinky Squeaker Sneaker
There’s nothing your dog loves more than your scent – the stinkier the better! When left home alone, items carrying your familiar aroma can help provide comfort and anxiety relief, especially for senior dogs that may be experiencing disorienting vision loss, hearing loss or cognitive dysfunction.
Simply stuff a dirty sock inside the cute sneaker-shaped plushie and give it to your pooch to play or snuggle with! Check out the adorable pink Stinky Squeaker Slipper™, too!
12. Doggie Dice™
There are so many wonderful bonding options hiding inside this little plush cube! No matter what activity level your senior dog is capable of, Doggie Dice provide a chance for play. Each of the six sides lists a different activity you can enjoy together – from belly rubs to selfies. Check out the video below to see the Doggie Dice in action!
Chances are good that you’ve met a Labradoodle lately. These fuzzy poodle-Labrador hybrids are a common sight at your local dog park, looking for all the world like living teddy bears. So just what’s behind all the Labradoodle love?
Though it seems like those adorable, fuzzy “doodle” dogs have been around forever, they were actually only introduced in 1988. That’s when an Australian breeder decided to cross the Labrador retriever with the standard poodle to create a guide dog better for those generally allergic to dog fur and dander.
Energetic, loving, smart, and (sometimes) hypoallergenic—it wasn’t long before the world fell in love. Here are just some of the reasons that Labradoodle people love their pets.
Labradoodles are the cutest puppies
Can you resist that look; those adorable, expressive eyes? Didn’t think so! Labradoodle puppies are playful and bouncy, always ready for adventure—and a cuddle.
They come in all different sizes
Labradoodles come in three different sizes—standard, medium, or miniature. Standard pups can weigh more than 45 pounds, medium ones usually range between 25 and 45 pounds, and miniatures are less than 25 pounds. The size of puppies can be unpredictable, but whether little or big, they’re cuddly teddy bears all the same.
Also a variety of colors…
Labradoodles come in a variety of colors, from cream to chocolate, apricot, red, black, silver, or a mix of hues. Their fur can also vary, with some rocking wavy coats (the most popular style), and others sporting curly, wiry, or straight hair.
The Labradoodle is a treat to train!
Since both poodles and Labradors are known for their intelligence, it’s no surprise that Labradoodles are highly trainable. They’re eager to learn, and training helps keep their mischievous side at bay. After all, you don’t want your pet bounding up to every strange dog and person with unbridled enthusiasm. Probably.
They’ll keep you super-active
There’s no need for a Fitbit when you’ve got a Labradoodle by your side. Most of these dogs require plenty of walks, plus space to run around (big backyards and parks are perfect). They’re great dogs to jog with, though they still may want to stretch their legs off-leash when you’re done. And the more you exercise them, the less likely they are to become bored and destructive at home.
They don’t shed
While there’s no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic dog, Labradoodles do come close. Most of them sport poodle-inspired hair — a tightly-curled coat that doesn’t really shed but needs to be brushed and clipped. Because they shed less than most breeds, they’re easier on allergies, and on your furniture.
Labradoodles live to love you
Social and sweet, Labradoodles are lucky enough to possess many of the best qualities of Labradors and poodles. They adore being with people and are typically quite affectionate (even with strangers).
They make wonderful therapy dogs
That warm, loving, loyal Labradoodle personality makes them ideal therapy dogs for people with autism, physical disabilities, depression, and a number of other issues. Labradoodles also make excellent guide dogs for the blind—the very occupation they were originally bred for.
Labradoodles are born to swim
Cooling down on summer days is a whole lot sweeter when your four-legged best friend is involved. These dogs love to dive into the deep end and will keep you company in the water all season long.
They make great family dogs
Labradoodles quickly become an essential part of the family. They’re particularly wonderful with children—loving, and yet oozing with energy. Training and supervision is essential, though. They might accidentally knock your little one over if they get too excited.
Did we mention how much they love you?
Labradoodles are in it to win it with their human companions. Their people-pleasing instincts will keep you company well into their golden years.