When there is an accumulation of gas in the stomach this is referred to as BLOAT, unfortunately the dilated stomach can then sometimes twist upon itself which prevents the escape of gas and this is TORSION.

Even though there are many theories about the reason this condition occurs there is at the moment no definite cause known.

Any dog presenting symptoms of the problem has a major emergency and veterinary help is needed without delay, every second counts.

Follow this link to download notes from a talk given by Dr Ben Harris at the Curly WOrld Congress in Shropshire last July.  Ben is (as well as being a vet) the son of Irish Setter Exhibitors. 


Bloat Notes



Usually the first signs are a worried expression with a possible arched back and general restlessness. The gas fills the stomach which distends, pushing out the posterior rib cage so that the animal appears to have a swollen abdomen.  This is more obvious on the left side and if you tap behind the last rib it can often sound like a drum as it is very tight.  Prompt action at this stage can save your dog's life.


Breathing then becomes laboured as the stomach is pressing on the diaphragm and the dog will often try to vomit, frequently unproductively. A special note should be made that STIFF WHITE VOMIT looking like whipped egg white which follows a small drink of water can be one of the signs of TORSION.  (The only other case of vomit being produced like this is if the dog has an obstruction in the throat or oesophagus in which case it also requires emergency veterinary attention).   The stomach continues to swell (this can appear as though the dog is in whelp) which cause it to press on the larger blood vessels in the abdomen which results in interference with blood circulation. A condition of acute shock follows and it is this that produces the immediate emergency.  If these symptoms are undetected the dog will collapse due to shock and once the dog is on its side the huge size of the abdomen is obvious.  By this stage death is not far away.




The only treatment YOU can provide is to get your dog to the veterinary practice immediately.


Veterinary treatment can be varied ranging from the vet being able to release the gas by tubing the animal or he may have to perform an emergency operation.




Whilst the cause is not known bloat/torsion is more prone to occur in large breeds of all ages.  It’s more likely to occur after feeding but my personal experience was that Cali developed it more than six hours after food.


I am afraid there are no tips I can give you to prevent this terrible condition but

I never exercise my dogs either before or within 2 hours of feeding nor do I allow them excessive drinking after walks and this I have been told, by all experts that I have contacted, is the correct thing to do.


Since her operation Cali has been put on three small meals of ‘Chappie’ and mixer instead of her former two of ‘complete’ food and this she will have to stay on for the rest of her life.


Virginia Bisiker