What Is Bloat In Great Danes?

The Great Dane faces many health problems that affect them as a breed.

In this article, we aim to help you understand what bloat is in Great Danes as one of the health problems they face, the signs, causes, treatment and what you can do as a Great Dane owner.

What Is Bloat In Great Danes?

Bloat in Great Danes is the accumulation of gas, fluid, or food in the stomach which expands causing tension of the stomach walls and creating pressure on the surrounding organs such as the diaphragm, limiting breathing.

It also leads to Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) which is the twisting of the stomach which cuts off blood flow from the abdomen and legs to the heart as well as restricting blood flow to the other organs. When treatment is not provided immediately, a Great Dane goes into shock and results in a quick death.

The Great Dane is more at risk of developing complications from bloat. Bloat and its resultant complication is the number one killer of Great Danes

Recommended Reading: What do Great Danes Usually die from?

What are the signs of bloat in a Great Dane?

what is bloat in great danes

The signs of bloat in a Great Dane include:

  • Enlarged stomach
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Labored rapid breathing
  • Excess drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Retching in pain 
  • Paleness of the mouth and nose
  • A weak pulse
  • Restlessness
  • Whining in pain when the stomach is touched

What causes bloating in Great Danes?

The genetic and environmental factors that cause bloat are not exactly pinpointed, however, the risk factors that cause bloating in Great Danes include:

  • Fast eating and drinking
  • Exercising right before and after meals
  • Feeding them one large meal a day 
  • Anxiety around meal times: Anxiety and stress caused when sharing meals with other dogs contributes to bloat
  • Genetic predisposition: Studies have shown that bloat is hereditary and a breed line that has a history of bloat is more likely to have offspring will also experience bloat.
  • Anatomy of large breed dogs: The risk of occurrence of bloat corresponds with the chest physical make-up of a dog breed. Dogs with a narrow deep chests and who are more tall than wide are at a high risk of developing bloat. The Great Dane’s physical structure fits these characteristics and is, therefore, more likely to develop bloat. 

How long can dogs live with bloat?

A dog can live with bloat for 1 to 2 hours at most and if not treated immediately this results in cardiac shock which progresses quickly to death.

It is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate medical attention therefore it is important to seek care from a vet or an emergency pet clinic as soon as you see the symptoms. 

Treatment of bloat complications

Bloat leads to Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) which is the twisting of the stomach which leads to shock and the death of a dog.

The treatment involves the treatment of shock to stabilize the dog and thereafter a procedure is performed to decompress the stomach and return it to the correct position.

Gastropexy is the surgical procedure done to attach the stomach to the body wall to prevent twisting or shifting from happening again. This reduces the recurrence of GDV from 55% to 4%. Bloating may still happen, however, because of this procedure, GDV and its fatal outcomes are prevented.

How do I stop my Great Dane from being bloated?

Slow down eating and drinking

Fast eating and drinking contribute to the development of bloat. If your Great Dane is a fast eater, slow down their eating by getting a slow feeding bowl.

We highly recommend the JASGOOD from Amazon which is an effective slow feeding bowl for large breed dogs.

Do not exercise your dog right before and after meals

Avoid exercising your Great Dane at least 1 hour before and after meals. This prevents gas accumulation in the stomach from excessive panting during exercise.

Spread out meals in a day

Feeding your dog one large meal once a day presents a risk for bloat occurring. Feed your Great Dane several small meals within a day.

Spread meal times to 2 – 3 times a day depending on your dog’s age. Feed puppies up to 3 times a day up to the age of 4 months, thereafter 2 times a day, and as adult dogs.

Separate dogs at mealtimes

If you happen to have more dogs in your home apart from your Great Dane, separate them during meal times with each having their own separate food serving.

This reduces the anxiety and stress of having to struggle or fight for meals, which also reduces the chances of bloat occurring.

Keep them calm after eating or drinking

Keep your dog calm after meals. Don’t engage in exercise, play, or running after meals to prevent bloating.

Surgical procedure for prevention

Have your Great Dane undergo preventive surgery to prevent the occurrence of GDV which is the fatal outcome of bloat.

Prophylactic gastropexy is a procedure done on high-risk dogs for preventive measures. Talk to your vet on this for further guidance and when to have the procedure done.


Bloat is a life-threatening condition of Great Danes. It should be immediately attended to by a vet as soon as the symptoms are identified.

As a Great Dane owner, be aware of the symptoms to get immediate medical care to help your dog survive.

I hope this article has helped you know what bloat is in Great Danes, the signs, causes, and the treatment. If you have any concerns regarding bloat and your Great Dane, talk to your vet. 

If you liked this article you may also like to learn more from the below resources on Great Danes.

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