Poodles at Pleasanton Ridge Poodles-at-Play
Bloat Facts in Standard Poodles:
A Review of Articles I Have Read

Researchers at Purdue University conducted a five-year prospective study of gastric dilation-volvulus using 1,991 large dogs [Akita, Bloodhound, Collie, Irish Setter, Rottweiler, Standard Poodle, Weimaraner] and giant dogs [Great Dane, Irish Wolfhound, Newfoundland, Saint Bernard]. Results presented here pertain to large dogs [50 and 99 lbs.] only. Risks were calculated based on an average life span of 10 years. Several papers resulting from this study were reviewed and are the basis for the information presented.

Bloat refers to any of three conditions:

- Acute gastric dilation: stomach swelling due to gas, fluid or both
- Torsion: the bloated stomach twists abruptly less than 180? on the long axis
- Volvulus: the bloated stomach twists abruptly more than 180? on the long axis

Signs, Symptom & Treatment of Acute Gastric Dilation [Non-Torsion Bloat]

Excessive salivation and drooling, extreme restlessness, unsuccessful attempts to vomit or pass stool, evidence of abdominal pain, and whining or groaning when you push on the stomach wall are common symptoms. The veterinarian will insert a long rubber or plastic stomach tube into the stomach. If there is a rush of air and the swelling subsides, there is no torsion and there is almost immediate relief.

Signs, Symptom & Treatment of Torsion or Volvulus

Symptoms are the same as for gastric dilation except the distress if more pronounced. The dog breathes rapidly, has cold and pale mouth membranes and may even collapse. These shock-like signs are caused by strangulation of the blood supply to the stomach and the spleen. IMMEDIATE surgery is the only treatment. This is a life and death situation.

Summary of Signs and Symptoms of Gastric Dilation and Torsion Complex

Excessive salivation and drooling
Attempts to vomit or pass stool
Extreme restlessness
Evidence of abdominal pain
Distended abdomen
Seeking a hiding place
Rigid [hard] abdomen
Looking at their side
Abdomen painful when touched
Vomiting foamy or liquid material
Arched back
Unproductive vomiting or retching
Praying position [down in front, rear standing]
Aerophagia [frequent swallowing]
Laying down on belly - crouched position
Hypersalivation [drooling heavily]
Curling up in a ball
Drinking excessively
Laying or sitting in an unusual location
Lethargy, weakness
Lack of appetite
Panting, breathing rapidly or heavily
Quiet, any abnormal behavior
Red or white gums [not normal pink]

Preventative gastropexy has been shown to reduce the risk of recurrence of GDV by about 95% in dogs that have already had an episode of GDV. It is expected that the gastropexy will be at least as effective in preventing a first occurrence. This surgery is often done when dogs are neutered. Also, a new laparoscopic technique reduces the severity of the surgery if done at other times.

Species Specific Risks

The six dogs with the highest incidence of bloat were: Great Dane (11.6%), Irish Setter (6.4%), Bloodhound (5.5%), Akita (4.5%), Standard Poodle (4.4%) and Weimeraner (4.0%). The average age of dogs in this study was 3.2 years and the average age of those that got GDV was 5.5 years.

Non-nutritional Risk Factors

1. Age > 5
2. Relatively deep & narrow chest [compared with other dogs]
    Formula: X = chest depth / width
    [the higher the number, the greater the risk]
3. First degree relative with history of GDV
4. Relatively fast eater [compared with other dogs]
5. Uses a raised food bowl

To calculate your dog’s lifetime risk, count one (1) point for each of the applicable risk factors and then use the table below to determine the percentage risk of bloat for your dog.

Percentage Risk # Risk Factors
Number risk factors: 0 or 1 = 8%
Number risk factors: 2 or 3 = 24%
Number risk factors: 4 or 5 = 90%

More Detailed List of Risk Factors

1. Breed: Standard Poodles are among the breeds with higher-than-average risk
2. Dogs with greatest risk have deep and narrow chests which results in more room for stomach movement behind the ribcage
3. Lean dogs have a higher risk than overweight dogs, perhaps because fat takes up space in the abdomen
4. Risk is higher for older dogs. Risk increases by 20% each year after age 5
5. First degree relatives of dogs that have had bloat have a 63% greater risk of developing bloat themselves
6. Dogs that eat quickly have a 15% higher risk of developing bloat, possibly due to an increased swallowing of air
7. Raising the height of food and water bowls increases risk by 110% [note that this was previously recommended as a way to prevent bloat]
8. Fearful, nervous or aggressive dogs had a much higher incidence of bloat than those with “happy” temperaments
9. Stress can also be a precipitating factor and many dogs bloat after recent kenneling or a recent long car ride [note that three dogs in our group that developed bloat had recently returned from Tahoe - same or previous day]
10. Males have a slightly higher risk of bloat than females

Nutritional/Diet Related Risk Factors in Bloat*

Risk Factor
Risk of GDV % GDV Cases
Feeding only dry food
Feeding a single large daily meal***
Dry food containing fat among the first four ingredients
 Increased  170% -- 30%
Foods containing citric acid that were also moistened prior to feeding
 Increased  320% -- 32%
Dry food with a rendered meat meal + bone among the first four ingredients
 Decreased       53%
Mixing table food or canned food into dry food
* Study population: 1991 dogs in the prospective study; 106 dogs that developed GDV; and 212 dogs randomly selected from the remaining pool to be the control group.

** There has been a 1500% increase in bloat in the US in the past 30 years and this has coincided with the increased feeding of dry dog foods. Bloat rates in susceptible breeds in Australia and New Zealand are much lower and these countries are less dependent on dry foods.

*** A single large meal may stretch the hepatogastric ligament. This ligament has been found to be much longer in dogs that develop GDV. Chronic stretching of the ligament may explain the age factor in bloat.

Popular Theories Not Substantiated

Bloat was not correlated with:
1. Exercise before or after eating. Most dogs bloated in the middle of the night with an empty, gas-filled stomach.
2. Vaccinations
3. Brand of dog food consumed
4. Timing or volume of water intake before or after eating


Approximately 30 percent of dogs that develop bloat die or are euthanized due to shock, arrhythmia (fatal irregular heart beats), or rupture or death of the stomach wall. Forty percent of dogs that bloat have some heart arrhythmia during the bloat episode and this is usually treated with fluids and shock therapy.
Emergency treatment of bloat begins with decompression, or alleviating the gas pressure. This can be accomplished by passing a stomach tube. If a tube cannot be passed due to torsion, the use of a hypodermic needle through the side of the abdomen can help relieve the pressure. If a dog survives decompression but the stomach is still twisted, emergency surgery is required to straighten it. Some dogs may also require removal of a damaged spleen, or a portion of the stomach wall.

Once normal anatomy is re-established, the most important aspect of bloat surgery is a gastropexy. This procedure "tacks" or attaches the stomach wall to the body wall and prevents it from twisting in the future. Studies have shown that 76 percent of dogs that do not have a gastroplexy will bloat again and more than half will bloat again within three months. Only 6 percent of dogs that have had a gastropexy have another bloat episode. Dogs that can be stabilized without surgery should have a gastropexy performed as soon as possible.

Breeding Recommendations

Only breed dogs with low chest depth to width ratios and whose littermates have not bloated. This may lead to a long term decrease in the occurrence of bloat.


Glickman, L.T., Research Updates from the Purdue University Prospective Study of Canine Gastric Dilation-Volvulus {GDV], November 9, 1998

Glickman, L.T., Research Updates from the Purdue University Prospective Study of Canine Gastric Dilation-Volvulus {GDV], October 22, 1999

Glickman, L.T., Glickman, N.W., Schellenberg, D.B., Raghavan, M. & Lee, T., Non-dietary risk factors for gastric dilation-volvulus in large and giant breed dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 2000; 217(10); 1492-1499

Raghavan, M., Glickman, L.T., Glickman, N.W., and Schellenberg, D.B., Dietary risk factors for gastric dilatioation-volvulus (bloat) in 11 large and giant dog breeds: A nested case-control study; [date unknown]. ABSTRACT only.

Bell, J.S., Risk Factors for Canine Bloat, Presented at Tufts’ Canine and Feline Breeding and Genetics Conference, Oct 2-4, 2003 Also published in the Healthy Dog section of the April, 2003 AKC Gazette. [AN EXCELLENT SUMMARY ARTICLE]

Greene, S., What We’re Learning About Bloat: A Review. http://www.mysticalpoodles.com/09.html in 2004