First Aid For Bloat
(Gastric Dilatation - Volvulous)

Prepared by:

Siefried Zahn D.V.M

Adapted from "Bloat in Large Dogs"
Published by Univelt, Inc. 1983
(ISBN 0-912183-00-4)

"The following first aid procedures have worked for me. However, I cannot be responsible for anyone misunderstanding or misusing these procedures. I highly recommend everyone discuss bloat first aid procedures with their personal veterinarians and follow their advice explicitly."

(This uses a Great Dane as an example, but, Dachshunds can and do bloat)

1. Introduction:

A. The procedures in this document should be used to provide first aid only to dogs in a bloat condition. They are not intended to replace prompt, professional treatment by a qualified veterinarian. Please read and understand these instructions completely before attempting the first aid procedures described herein

B. A bloat kit, which includes these instructions, was prepared for use on my Danes by people entrusted with their care and well-being. Additionally, I provide a copy of these instructions to everyone getting a Great Dane from me. NEVER ASSUME THAT ANYONE ALREADY OWNING OR PURCHASING A DANE KNOWS ABOUT BLOAT. Please share these instructions with others that are concerned with bloat and what aid they can give to dogs in a bloat condition. I strongly believe properly administered first aid will help to ensure a dog in a bloat condition has a good chance of survival once it gets to a veterinarian.


C. Recommended Bloat Kit Contents:

  1. ) Instructions for use
  2. ) Stethoscope
  3. ) Rolls of tape (3 rolls, 1 in. x 10 yd)
  4. ) Stomach tube (2) (different diameters). 5 ft. length bevelled at one end, with two holes drilled in tube 2 & 3 inches up from the bevelled end. Pre-measured and marked for each Great Dane in household (see page 4, NOTE 1)
  5. ) 14 gauge or larger needles (2) (1 1/2" to 3" length)
  6. ) K. Y. jelly
  7. ) Gas absorbent (Digel, GasEase, etc)

D. A bloat kit should be available wherever Great Danes are located (home, van, RV, etc).

2. Bloat phases, symptoms and recommended actions:

A. Canine Bloat (GASTRIC DILATION-VOLVULUS) is an acute disease or digestive problem believed to be caused by excessive swallowing of air while eating, gastrointestinal secretions, and gas for food fermenting in the stomach.


B. Some symptoms may be anxiety, evidence of abdominal fullness after meals, heavy salivating, whining, pacing, getting up and lying down, stretching, looking at abdomen, unproductive attempts to vomit, labored breathing, disinterest in food, and stilted gait. Severe symptoms, such as dark red, blue, grey or white gums, a rapid heartbeat and a weak pulse are normally followed by prostration and death.

3. Determining Bloat Phases:

A. Observing the dog's behavior and symptoms and comparing to those listed in TABLE 1 is the initial step in this process.
  1. ) Look at color of gums (subpara 3B. (1)).
  2. ) Determine dog's heartbeat/pulse rate (subparas 3B. (2) and 3B. (3)).
  3. ) Note the rate of abdomen distention.

B. Helpful hints in deciding the bloat phase of a dog (Practice the following three actions on a well dog beforehand):

(1) Look at the dog's gums. If the gums are pink to red shade and you press the gum firmly with your finger and then let go, the color returns immediately, then the dog may be normal or may only be in phase 1. If the gums are deep red, grey, blue, or white and, you press with your finger, the color returns slowly or not at all, you have an extreme situation (phase 3). You should start first aid immediately!

Recommend a copy of this table be made readily available as a quick reference wherever Great Danes are located (home, kennel, RV, van, etc).