BLOAT: A Cautionary Tale

hi, i'm elsie

Meet Elsie, the Weimaraner. This is her story about surviving bloat.

: too much growth
1) a : one that is bloated
b : unwarranted or excessive growth or enlargement
2) : digestive disturbance of ruminant animals and especially cattle marked by accumulation of gas in one or more stomach compartments
3) : a condition of large dogs marked by distension and usually life-threatening rotation of the stomach

If you are a pet owner, especially of a large breed dog with a barrel chest, please take a moment to read Elsie’s story. It could save your pet’s life.

this is my barrel chest. now pet it! (please)

this is my barrel chest. now pet it! (please)

It had been a stressful day, but our air conditioning had finally been fixed and I was looking forward to a good night’s sleep for the first time in awhile. But around 1am, Elsie woke me up. This isn’t unusual really. She knows I’m the light sleeper. I pulled myself from bed to dutifully take her outside.

But once we got outside she did nothing. She just stood there. A little annoyed, I took her back inside to go back to sleep.

She woke me up again, this time with a bit more urgency. I took her back outside. Again she stood there for awhile, but I was determined we weren’t going back to bed until she used the bathroom. She began to whine a bit. Suddenly she acted like she was going to vomit and I thought, “ah! Here we go.” But nothing came out. The whining got worse and I got nervous.

I tried to take her back to bed thinking she just had a tummy ache. She’d broken into her food container earlier in the day and had her fill of food so it made sense.

She refused to lay down and continued to whine. I don’t know what made me think to Google it, but I did. I didn’t even have to click on any sites before I was terrified.

“take to vet immediately…”
“serious condition…”

I called our emergency vet and they didn’t even let me finish describing her symptoms before they told me to get her there as soon as possible.

Bloat is a very serious, and often over-looked, condition in animals. In Elsie’s case, the excess food she’d eaten formed a kind of paste in her stomach that sealed off both the entrance and exit. She was neither able to throw up or expel the food. As her body continued the digestion process, the gasses built up in her stomach, causing it to twist and crowd other organs.

We were lucky. Her life was saved by emergency surgery to remove the blockage and set the organs right again. But we were lucky. There had been so much damage to her stomach lining tissue that she only had a 50% survival chance in the first week. Her stomach easily could have ruptured, but it didn’t. We were lucky. We were very lucky.


I had no idea what bloat was before Elsie’s experience, but during our hellacious wait at the vet, another dog was brought in for the same symptoms. That dog was also lucky and got there in time.

If you own a pet, know the symptoms, because early recognition can be the difference between life and death.

– Dogs with a barrel-shaped chest (“deep chested”) have the highest risk of bloat. Breeds like Weimaraners, dobermans, boxers, or rottweilers, just to name a few.
– Bloat can be caused by drinking too much water or getting too much exercise immediately after a meal.
– The stomach may be distended, but it may not.
– The biggest warning sign is an attempt to vomit without anything coming up.

Always call your vet if you have any concerns about your pet’s health.

I hope this will help others be more aware of bloat and it’s deadly nature so that other precious lives can be saved like Elsie’s. She’s awful grateful for the quick action of our vet!

"thanks doc!"

“thanks doc!”

It’s been two+ years and Elsie is still healthy and happy, though a little frustrated that her food container is no longer accessible.



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