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Tips to Prevent Bloat in the German Shepherd

swelling in the german shepherd

Bloating is a gastrointestinal problem that affects all dogs. However, not all breeds are affected equally, some are more likely to develop it than others.

So how can we prevent bloat in the German Shepherd? Unfortunately, the German Shepherd is among the dog breeds most prone to bloat. It appears that dogs with a deep chest are the most at risk, and the German Shepherd is among them.

What is swelling?

Bloating, also known as stomach dilation-twisting , is a serious medical condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with air.

Excess air blocks the movement of food and water in the stomach, causing the intestines to twist and the stomach to swell.

The resulting pressure inhibits the flow of blood from the abdomen and hind legs to the heart. This inadequate blood supply also deprives other organs of oxygen – the most commonly affected organs are the pancreas and spleen.

When the swelling affects these organs, the dog’s body produces toxins that have adverse effects on the heart, putting the puppy at risk of shock.

There’s no question about it – bloat is a life-threatening medical emergency for dogs. Even after treatment, many dogs continue to succumb to the condition due to the massive influx of toxins into essential organs.

German Shepherd experiencing bloating

If you are the proud father of a German Shepherd like me, the last few paragraphs will probably give you a bit of a chill.

You shouldn’t be concerned, however, there are many preventative steps you can take to make sure your dog never has to deal with bloat in the first place. And even if your pup does bloat, knowing the signs and spotting them early makes it very likely that he will come out perfectly healthy.

Read on to understand the risk factors, signs and symptoms, treatment, and prevention options for bloat among German Shepherds.

Risk factors for bloat in German Shepherds

Canine health experts have not identified the specific cause of stomach dilation-torsion . Although it is being investigated, it appears that the main cause of bloat in dogs is genetic.

In other words, the genetic mutation of the DRB1 and DLA88 genes associated with bloat determines the level of susceptibility to bloat for each breed, making the German Shepherd among the most prone breeds.

However, your dog’s genes aren’t the only potential cause of bloat. Here are other factors that predispose German Shepherds to bloat:

  • A disorganized eating routine. One large meal a day is more likely to cause bloating than several smaller meals.
  • Eat fast.
  • A consistent and solid diet. A mixture of wet and hard food is less likely to cause bloating.
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Sex. Male German Shepherds are more prone than females.
  • Age. Dogs that are seven years old or older are at higher risk… and the risk increases with each additional year.
  • Smaller size. Lean dogs are at higher risk. The lack of fat in the abdomen mimics a deep and narrow chest.
  • Exercising too soon after a meal.
  • Eat from a raised bowl. This can force the dog to swallow a lot of air.
  • Stress and anxiety.

Signs and symptoms of bloat in German Shepherds

Knowing the signs and symptoms of bloat in dogs is crucial. As it is a life-threatening condition, acting at the first sign of swelling may be the only way to save your dog.

But how do you know if your dog is bloated?

The most noticeable sign is a bloated stomach. However, the condition can also manifest itself less obviously. They can be more or less severe, depending on the stage.

However, any case of swelling is an emergency, and you should contact your vet if you have the slightest suspicion that something is wrong.

Early signs and symptoms

In the early stages of bloating, your dog may show the following signs:

  • Stomach swollen.
  • Walk without rest.
  • Continuous panting.
  • Uncontrolled drooling.
  • Attention seeking sounds that indicate the dog is in pain.
  • A strong headache.
  • Repeated stretches that form a hunched back.
  • A general state of depression.
  • Irritation when the stomach is touched.
  • Withdrawal of the company.

Advanced signs

Signs and symptoms in the advanced stage of swelling are severe. The dog has been struggling with the other symptoms for a long time, and the body’s organs are giving in to damage from poor blood flow and saturation of toxins.

Advanced signs of swelling include:

  • Advanced weakness and eventual collapse.
  • Short of breath.
  • Foam.
  • Rapid heart beat
  • Pale gums
  • Loss of consciousness.

The above signs confirm that bloating is a critical condition in dogs. If you notice any of these, head to the nearest animal hospital immediately.

How to Treat Bloat in German Shepherds

The most important thing to keep in mind when it comes to treating bloat in German Shepherds is that you should take your dog to the vet as soon as you notice the first sign of the condition. As scary as it sounds, bloating can kill your dog in minutes.

The first thing the vet will do is diagnose and stabilize your dog. Diagnosis may mean taking an abdominal X-ray to determine the position of the stomach and the extent of the condition.

To stabilize your German Shepherd, the vet will decompress the stomach to reduce the pressure caused by gas build-up. Decompression involves passing a tube into the stomach or using a hypodermic needle on the side of the abdomen if it is impossible to pass a tube.

Depending on the stage of swelling, giving the dog fluids and performing shock therapy can also be part of the stabilization treatment.

If the stomach is still twisted after decompression, the dog will undergo emergency surgery to correct the twist. Extreme damage to parts of the stomach wall and spleen may mean that they have to be completely removed.

A dog that has survived the bloat is susceptible to relapse. If you want to prevent the swelling from recurring, the surgery must conclude with gastropexy: a procedure that joins the stomach wall to the body to prevent it from twisting in the future.

Preventive measures for bloating in German Shepherds

One way to protect your German Shepherd from a twisted stomach is through prophylactic gastropexy, also known as preventive gastropexy. This procedure ensures that although the dog may experience bloating due to air build-up, life-threatening complications caused by a twisted stomach are prevented.

You can also opt for a non-invasive gastropexy option known as laparoscopic gastropexy. With this method, the vet makes a small incision through the abdomen and uses a camera to direct the procedure.

Since gastropexy only checks for the volvulus (torsion) appearance of the swelling, prevention is best ensured through feeding and care options. Here is a list of preventative options German Shepherd owners should consider to avoid bloat.

  • Feed your dog two to three times a day instead of a single heavy meal.
  • Avoid recreation of bones and bites.
  • Make sure your dog eats a nutritious and balanced diet. Probiotics can be added to the diet to aid digestion and metabolism.
  • Feed your dog fresh food and avoid fermentable carbohydrates, genetically engineered food, food with preservatives, and food containing citric acid.
  • Train your dog to eat slowly and not swallow food.
  • Dogs should not exercise shortly after eating. Two hours of rest are recommended.
  • Do not allow your dog to drink too much water after the meal. It is best to have a few small glasses during the day.
  • Plan a checkup schedule with your dog’s vet. This will help identify any conditions that may predispose your dog to bloat.

As with all other health conditions, prevention is always better than cure when it comes to canine bloat.

German Shepherds are known to suffer from sensitive stomachs. There are many causes of this, including bloating.


Unfortunately, German Shepherds are prone to bloat.

If you are the proud parent of a German Shepherd, you should remember and watch out for the signs and symptoms of bloating and familiarize yourself with the preventive measures mentioned in this article.

And if you ever think your puppy is bloated, go to the animal hospital as soon as possible.

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I love the animals. Reading and writing about them, their customs, their peculiarities or the attention they require is exciting, and I also believe that it makes us better people. I share articles that solve the questions that dog caregivers face on a daily basis.

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