It always starts out innocently enough. I'm sitting there after a big meal, feeling full and content. Then, the rumbles start.
Suddenly, my stomach is talking more than a kindergartner at the school pick-up line. The skin around my belly starts to feel tight and stretched, and there's even a little bit of cramping thrown in for good measure.
Before long, I'm fielding questions from Susan in HR about if I could possibly be "hiding something" to which I have to kindly respond, "No, Susan, it's just a food baby."
Bloating in humans can be painful. Bloating in dogs is equally uncomfortable. In some cases, it could even be fatal.
While I might be able to get through my situation with a little deep breathing and some sweet yoga moves, Fido can't exactly downward-dog his way into a better state.
Today, we're taking a closer look at what causes doggie bloat in the first place, and if CBD could be the ticket to helping his gut chill out.
What Is Bloat in Dogs?
Technically speaking, dog bloat is referred to as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV). That's a mouthful, so let's break it down a little.
In the simplest terms, dog bloat is relatively similar to human bloat. It happens when your pup's stomach fills up with one of two things:
However, here's where it gets very, very different.
Left untreated, my bloated belly will eventually deflate. I'll pass gas, time will go by, and before long, I'll stop feeling like I've smuggled in a top-secret balloon under my shirt.
However, your dog can't always get there on his own. If his stomach stays expanded, it can distend and eventually twist.
This twisting motion can cut off the blood supply to his gut, trapping food and gas within it. At the same time, it can also twist and cut circulation to his spleen, as well as block vital veins in his back. Those veins are especially important because they're the ones that carry blood to your pup's heart.
These reactions are so severe that they could put your furry pal into a state of shock. Unless he receives immediate medical treatment, this condition could be fatal.
However, that doesn't mean it's not preventable.
We've all heard the age-old proclamation that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. While you might roll your eyes at such platitudes, it really is the truth in this case.
Instead of waiting to react when your dog is in the middle of this painful experience, it's smart to plan and prepare ahead of time. If you can recognize the symptoms of bloat in dogs, you'll be ready to spring into action if you notice them down the road.
What Causes Bloating in Dogs?
There isn't one single thing that always leads to gas bloat in dogs. If this were the case, every caring pet owner out there would know exactly what not to do to keep their pup safe!
Instead, this condition usually occurs as a result of a few different circumstances or conditions that increase the likelihood of its occurrence.
What causes bloat in dogs? Here are a few possible culprits.
When dogs are under a significant amount of stress, it can trigger bloat. If your pup is feeling more anxious than normal, he may do what most of us humans do -- stress eat. Dogs under pressure tend to eat and drink quicker and in greater excess than ones that are more relaxed.
(And yes, we know what you're thinking -- dogs can feel stress! Even if your pup looks totally blissed out while lying in his favorite sun spot, there could be factors that are working on his sensitive nervous system, from separation anxiety and fear to boredom and frustration.)
Sometimes, dogs experience bloat because their breed is just more susceptible to it. For example, it occurs more often in large, deep-chested dogs than in smaller ones. Some of the most high-risk breeds include:
- Great Danes
- German shepherds
- Saint Bernards
- Irish setters
- Irish wolfhounds
- Standard poodles
While these breeds have a greater likelihood of developing bloat than others, keep in mind that this condition affects all breeds.
In general, older dogs are more likely to have bloat than younger ones.
While experts aren't entirely sure why this is the case, many believe it could be due to the fact that older dogs have weaker and looser muscles and ligaments around their stomachs, which can make them more likely to stretch.
Even something so small as changing up your pup's feeding routine or elevating his bowl higher than normal could be enough to jumpstart this reaction.
If he goes from eating a few small meals throughout the day to one big meal daily, your pup may be extra hungry and gobble it all down at once, munching his kibble at a quicker pace than usual.
Unfortunately, eating rapidly is another contributing factor to bloat, as it causes your pup to take in large amounts of air with each swallow. In addition, it gives their bellies time to shrink down in between meals, which can cause them to stretch out excessively during a single feeding session.
Other possible causes of bloat in dogs can include:
- Exercising too soon after a meal
- Consuming too much food or water
- An ancestral history of bloat
- Eating rich foods (like table scraps) that can cause gas
If you notice signs of distress in your dog, your quick actions could save his life. Let's talk about the signs to know and what to do.
Signs of Bloat in Dogs
It's downright miserable to see our best friends in pain. If you notice your pup acting strange for any reason, it's always worth getting him checked out at the vet.
However, there are some conditions that are more serious than others, and bloat is one of them. If you notice your dog displaying any of these symptoms, then call your vet for urgent, emergency treatment -- don't wait until a routine appointment becomes available.
What does bloat look like in dogs? Here's what to look out for:
- A hard, swollen tummy
- Retching motions, but no vomit
- An abdomen that appears sensitive or painful
- Excessive drooling
- Signs of physical distress (restlessness, panting)
- Fast, labored breathing
While these are normally the telltale signs of bloat, they can also point to other, related issues, such as:
- Cushing's disease
- Internal bleeding
It might be hard, but this is one instance in which we don't recommend hopping online and Googling "What are the first signs of bloat in dogs?" By the time you've done your own DIY research, your pup's symptoms could have worsened significantly.
Instead of reading a PetMD article and deeming yourself a medical expert, let a real vet take the reins. Treatment options for bloat will look very different from ones designed to stop internal bleeding.
Always consult a trusted professional before moving forward with a self-diagnosed condition and plan. Both doggos and their humans could benefit from taking this advice!
Bloat vs Gas in Dogs
If you've ever been unfortunate enough to be downwind of your four-legged buddy when he passes gas, you know that our canine companions can let some serious ones rip.
That's why, if his belly seems to be bothering him, you may think it's just something he ate, and that it will eventually come out on one end or the other.
If you've noticed marked changes in your dog's appearance or behavior, we recommend taking him to the vet as quickly as possible. If your vet suspects bloat or GDV, they can perform tests and X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.
Abdominal X-rays are especially important, as they can show if your dog has basic gas or bloat. They can also reveal how far the bloat has progressed.
If he's still in the simple bloat stage, his stomach may appear very distended and round. At this point, it's probably full of either gas or food.
If it's progressed into GDV, his stomach will appear very distended. Your vet may also notice a small bubble-shaped structure on the top of his swollen belly.
Treatment for Bloat
Before we dive into whether or not CBD is an effective treatment for dog bloat, let's talk about the conventional option that most vets recommend: hospitalization.
If your vet diagnoses your pup with bloat, they'll send them to an emergency hospital, where they'll receive large doses of intravenous fluids. Depending on their condition, they may also receive medicine.
Similar to a woman walking the halls of a hospital to stimulate labor movements, the emergency vet may walk your dog to encourage movement within his gastrointestinal tract. Just a few laps could be all it takes to move the gas and food around in his gut and through any blockages, allowing them to exit his body more easily.
Next, let's segue from identifying the condition to how to prevent bloat in dogs. As a busy pet parent, you may wonder how much of a time commitment this will require.
While you can't exactly change your dog's breed or age, you can make small changes to improve their well-being and reduce their susceptibility to bloat. Here are three steps that are easy to start.
Adjust Feeding Habits
When feeding your pup, pay close attention to not only what he's eating but also how and where he's doing it.
First, check the ingredients in his bag of dog food. Is there anything in there that could cause excess gas? Some of the foods that cause bloating in dogs include:
- Dairy products
- High-fat products
- Spicy ingredients
Next, think about his feeding environment. Ideally, it should be quiet, peaceful, and relaxed. If it's in a busy, high-stress zone (such as a communal pet-feeding station), he might feel pressured to eat too quickly.
Frequency-wise, it's also best to make sure he eats two times per day, rather than once. Smaller, consistent meals can keep his belly full, so he's less likely to go crazy each time you reach for the kibble.
Speaking of going crazy, does your doggo scarf down his food faster than Jeff Gordon rounding the final lap at Daytona? If so, think about switching out his standard food bowl for a slow feeder bowl.
These are designed to limit how much food comes out at once, so your pup can't gorge himself too quickly, which can trigger stomach bloat in dogs.
Time Exercise Just Right
With his gut full of food, Fido might seem to have a brand new lease on life. He may be especially energetic and ready to play. He may even grab those old chew toys and eagerly nudge you to play.
While you can engage in light exercise after a meal, you don't want to overwork your beloved pet right after he's eaten. Take it easy for about one or two hours, so his food has plenty of time to digest.
If you head for the dog park too quickly, your pup's stomach could stretch from both the food he just ate and the air he's now intaking. Whether you're throwing a Frisbee or walking a few laps together, try to save the strenuous exercise for when his gut is relatively empty.
Monitor Water Intake
As humans, we're told to hydrate as much as possible! We've grown accustomed to keeping huge bottles of water right next to us at all times. They're in the cupholders of our car, on our desk at work, and by our bedside at night.
Your furry friend, on the other hand? He doesn't need quite as much H2O.
While he does need access to a healthy supply of clean drinking water, pay attention to the amount your pup is drinking. He should not be consuming water in great quantities or too quickly.
Similar to the restrictions you'd put on food, you don't want your dog's belly to fill up with too much water, too fast. You might not think about it, but water also has the ability to stretch his tender stomach.
As he drinks it, your pup is also taking in air with each lap of the tongue. If he's indulging like he's five minutes away from the end of Happy Hour, take away his water bowl for a few minutes so he can calm down.
Only keep it for a little while, and then return it to its original spot. While you don't want your dog to drink too much water, it's important to make sure he stays properly hydrated -- especially during those humid summer months!
What About CBD?
If you're worried about your best pal developing bloat, the good news is that there are preventative steps you can take to keep his gut happy and healthy.
When you know how to relieve gas and bloating in dogs, you're one step closer to minimizing this risk as much as possible. Your first defense should be getting your pup on a regular feeding schedule and exercise routine, so you can prevent his gut from stretching and twisting.
Once you have that down pat, it's time to upgrade your treat and supplement game! If you're still sticking with the additive-heavy treats found at your local pet store, you could be doing your pet's belly more harm than good. The same goes for any supplements you're dropping or sprinkling onto your dog's food.
Unless you know those products are pure, high-quality, and lab-tested, it's best to steer clear. This is where our team comes in.
Whether you're new to this space or you've been administering CBD treats for a little while now, have you considered how this substance could also benefit his digestion?
Here are the top two ways it can help, and what makes CBD one of the most potent home remedies for bloated stomach in dogs.
Your pup's digestive system is intricate and complex. His gastrointestinal tract alone is required for many different functions, from digesting food and absorbing nutrients to maintaining fluid balance and removing waste.
Adding CBD to your routine could help these systems and processes work smoothly and more effectively. It helps soothe inflammation and relieve pain in this region, so your pup has an easier time eating and drinking.
Dogs are more likely to eat fast and furiously when they're feeling anxious. It's called stress eating, and canines can do it just as well as humans.
A regular CBD routine can help your pet keep his emotions in check. When he's feeling happy and calm, he's more likely to eat healthy, small meals that keep his gut feeling great.
Products to Try
At Bailey's, we know the power of CBD to help our canine buddies live their best lives. Our treats are specially formulated to help your pup look and feel his best from the inside out. Let's check out some of the products we offer, and why we suggest trying CBD oil for digestive health.
CBD oil contains compounds that are great for your dog's gut health. For one, it helps reduce both pain and inflammation in this area, which allows food and water to flow more freely through their small and large intestines.
In addition, it can also calm your doggie down so he's not feeling as stressed or anxious while he eats, which can lead to unhealthy gorging.
If you're looking for CBD oil that you can add to your pet's meal, start with our CBD Oil for Dogs. Available in 15ml, 30ml, and 60ml sizes, it helps your pal achieve a sense of calm and also supports his overall wellness. We provide a simple and user-friendly dosing guide with each bottle, so you always know how much to give.
All of our Bailey's CBD oil is made using whole-plant, subcritical CO2-extracted organic hemp extract. It's also third-party lab tested for quality, purity, and safety assurance.
CBD Dog Treats
If you're not sure where to begin, check out our yummy CBD-infused dog treats, (aka "CBD gummies for dogs") including these Calming CBD Yummies! Flavored with the taste of peanut butter and bananas that dogs love, they can help your pet feel calmer and more relaxed with just one dose.
These treats are available in two different strengths, including:
- 3mg CBD per chew for small/medium breeds
- 6mg CBD per chew for large breeds
The 6mg chews are considered extra strength. Both kinds will take effect in as little as 30 to 60 minutes.
Digestive Support Dog Treats
Looking for other products that can support your pup's gut? In addition to CBD oil and CBD dog treats, we also offer digestion-specific products to help his belly feel good.
One is our Omega Hemp CBD Soft Chews. These mouth-watering chews are packed with ingredients that support your pup's whole health, including Omega-3 fatty acids as well as naturally-occurring CBD. They support your pet's systemic functions, strengthen their immune system, and reduce inflammation so they can feel their best!
In addition, we also offer SodaPup Dogtastic Digestive Support Pumpkin Dog Treats. Pumpkin is a great, natural way to soothe gut distress and inflammation for both dogs and their people. This is because it's a great source of fiber, but not just any kind!
Pumpkin is high in soluble fiber, which helps normalize and balance out gut function. It's equally powerful against diarrhea as it is against constipation. It also keeps your pet feeling full for a longer period of time, which can keep feeding hour from turning into an all-out frenzy.
Nourish Your Pup's Gut
As a concerned and loving pet parent, you naturally want what's best for your fluffball. You don't want to see them in any kind of pain, especially serious digestive distress.
Bloating in dogs is a painful condition, but there are steps you can take to avoid it. The key is to stick to nourishing, healthy ingredients that won't upset his stomach, and make sure he doesn't eat or drink too much, too fast.
Along the way, you can incorporate our CBD oil and CBD treats to keep his gut feeling great! Check out our full collection of CBD soft chews online, and reach out if you have any questions.