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German Shepherds, like all other dogs, are prone to certain diseases. One of these diseases is the bloat or Gastric dilatation-volvulus. Since this disease might be even life-threatening for your dog, it is important to recognize German Shepherd bloat symptoms on time.

Bloat is a dangerous condition that occurs when a dog’s stomach twists. From the moment this happens, you should go to your vet in record time, as many cases of bloat unfortunately end in death.

Bloat is repeated in many dogs. Larger dogs with a narrow, deep chest have an increased risk of bloat, but this disease can occur in almost all breeds.

If such complications occur in your German Shepherd, it is important that you know how to recognize them on time. Also, there are certain preventive measures that can reduce the possibility of bloat in dogs.

First, we will study what are the main symptoms that indicate bloat in German Shepherds.

What Are German Shepherd Bloat Symptoms?

In the early stage of bloat, the dog’s stomach is filled with gas, and it inflates. The exact cause of this condition has not yet been determined, but bloat most often occurs in larger dogs that eat and drink quickly, and then have intense physical activity right after eating.

There is a difference in the incidence of bloat in male and female German Shepherds; males are more prone to this disease than females. Also, bloat occurs much more often in older dogs.

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Now, let’s move on to the main symptoms of bloat.

1. Retching Without Vomiting

german shepherd vomitinggerman shepherd vomiting

One of the first symptoms that you will probably notice in a dog is that it expresses the urge to vomit. The dog will probably assume a pose as if he is about to throw up, and you will also see the movements of his abdominal musculature.

However, the dog will not be able to vomit. This can be very difficult to watch, as the dog will struggle a lot. Retching or dog’s dry heaving is something you should never ignore.

As soon as you notice an attempt to vomit in a dog, you should immediately take him to the vet, since, if you do not react immediately, other symptoms of bloat will rapidly begin to appear, and thus the chance of saving your furry friend will decrease more and more.

2. Swollen Belly

If you notice that your dog is trying to vomit but is unable to, immediately pay attention to his stomach.

If your German Shepherd has Gastric dilatation-volvulus, his stomach will be noticeably bloated, and it will increase in size in just a couple of minutes.

Of course, this also means that you need to take the dog to the vet immediately!

3. Pain In Abdomen

a German shepherd has a stomach achea German shepherd has a stomach ache

If you suspect that something is wrong with your German Shepherd, and you try to touch his abdomen, and he moans loudly and lets you know that he does not want you to touch him – this is also a potential symptom of bloat in your dog.

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Abdominal pain in dogs is never harmless and whenever you notice a dog’s sensitivity to the touch of this part of his body, you should call the vet to examine the dog.

4. Excessive Drooling

All dogs drool, so do German Shepherds, and this is usually nothing to worry about. If this is something you would like to stop, you can try some home remedies for dog drooling.

However, if you suddenly notice excessive drooling in your German Shepherd, together with some other symptoms from this list, this could be a symptom of bloat in your dog.

5. Distress

A dog with an upturned stomach will show clear signs of distress. You will notice that your dog is generally moody, agitated, scared, and weak.

Also, the dog will probably look at you with a sad look and show no desire to interact. For any owner of a German Shepherd whose dog is normally always cheerful, active, and eager to play, this will be hard to watch.

Dogs never have sudden mood swings for no specific reason. When your dog suddenly becomes agitated and lethargic, it is almost certain that he is in great pain.

6. Heavy Breathing

German Shepherd sad lying on the floorGerman Shepherd sad lying on the floor

If your dog has a twisted stomach, he will not be able to breathe normally. 

So, many German Shepherds with bloat will breathe heavily, which can cause additional fear in them. 

You should try your best to calm your dog while you are taking him to the veterinary clinic. 

What To Expect In A Vet Clinic?

A German Shepherd with bloat will go into shock very quickly, because his twisted stomach puts pressure on vital blood vessels.

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When you come to the vet, it is very important that you know how to give your vet accurate information about the behavior of your German Shepherd in the last few hours. The vet will ask you the following questions:

• When did the dog eat for the last time?

• What food did he eat?

• Was the dog physically active immediately after eating?

• Have you noticed these symptoms in your dog before?

• What symptoms have you noticed in your dog?

What Is Treatment For Bloat In German Shepherds?

a veterinarian examines the abdomen of a German shepherda veterinarian examines the abdomen of a German shepherd

The veterinarian will first perform a general examination of the dog, where he will pay special attention to the stomach area. 

When treating bloat, every moment is precious, therefore, I emphasize once again how important it is to take your dog to the vet immediately when you notice any of the symptoms that could indicate bloat.

Bloat therapy begins with giving the dog anti-shock therapy. The veterinarian will immediately connect the dog to the infusion and will make a decision on which drugs are best to administer.

After that, it will be necessary to reduce the pressure in the dog’s stomach.

If it is possible, taking into account the condition of the dog, the veterinarian will intubate it to release gasses from the stomach, and will wash the stomach out to remove all contents from it. If intubation is not possible, the veterinarian will perform a gastric trocar.

If everything goes well, and when the dog is stable, the veterinarian will perform an X-ray examination to determine the exact condition of the dog. After that, an operation will probably follow in order to return the dog’s stomach to its normal position and to fix it.

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Unfortunately, bloat can significantly reduce the lifespan of German Shepherds. Even when the dog’s owner reacts immediately and brings the dog to the vet in time, the death rate is very high.

How To Prevent Bloat In Your GSD?

There are certain measures that dog owners can take to reduce the possibility of bloat in their German Shepherds.

It is necessary to feed the dog several times a day with smaller meals. After the dog has just eaten, you should make sure that he is not too physically active for at least an hour afterwards.

There is also a preventive procedure called gastropexy, which refers to fixing the dog’s stomach. In this way, therefore, in the future, torsion of the dog’s stomach would not occur.

Of course, the surgery itself might still be too much for many dog owners, but, I think it’s good for you to be informed about this possibility as well.


I hope this article made you understand better why it is so important to know how to recognize German Shepherd bloat symptoms.

If you have been a GSD owner for a long time, you are probably scared about your dog developing bloat one day.

This is a serious and life threatening disease, and many of us panic just knowing our dogs might get it.

There are some life circumstances we cannot influence, but there are still things we can do for our dog’s health.

We can take our German Shepherd to regular vet check-ups, and we should give our dogs smaller meals, for a couple of times a day. Also, we should take care that our dogs do not undertake physically demanding exercises immediately after eating.

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Bloat is terrifying for sure, but all responsible German Shepherd owners should be informed on the symptoms, prevention, and treatment of this disease. This is the best way we can help our dear pets.

By Andy Marcus

Hello, my name is Andy Marcus, and I am a passionate dog lover and enthusiast. For me, there is nothing quite like the joy and love that a furry friend can bring into our lives. I have spent years studying and learning about dogs, and have made it my mission to share my knowledge and expertise with others through my website. Through my website, I aim to provide comprehensive information and resources for dog owners and enthusiasts. Whether it's training tips, health and nutrition advice, or insights into dog behavior, I strive to create a platform that is accessible and useful to everyone who loves dogs.

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