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Boxer Dog Bloat


There are several health issues that are more common with this breed than others.... One is cancer, another is Cardiomyopathy... and the one that we will discuss here: Bloat. 

Of the over 200 dog breeds that exist, the Boxer is the 16th most at risk. And the Boxer’s risk ration is 3.7; meaning that this breed is 3.7 times more likely to develop bloat than a typical mixed breed. Therefore, owners must know about bloat, signs and treatment. 

This is also known as Killer Bloat and the official name is Gastric Dilatation Volvulus. This is a very serious canine health problem. When this strikes to a serious degree, it is fatal in up to 50% of cases.

There are actually 2 different ailments that are both referred to as bloat and each is serious in their own right.

1) The dog's stomach distends with gas and fluid. There may be a slight rotation of the stomach (less than 180 degrees).

2) The distended stomach twists anywhere from 180 to 360 degrees. The spleen, which is connected to the stomach wall, rotates out as well. This severe twisting is called volvulus.

It is this 2nd instance that is life threatening.           

What Happens

Bloat occurs when food, water and/or air becomes trapped in the dog's stomach because of the stomach 'twisting'. 

This issue may seem bad enough, however other issues are taking place as well. 

In some cases, a dog may be unable to burp or vomit out the trapped food, air, and gases, because the area of the body called the gastroesophageal junction becomes obstructed during the rotation. 

This causes further bloating. Blood circulation is then cut off and the dog's life is in danger.

Without immediate treatment, serious health issues begin to domino
This includes acute dehydration, bacterial septicemia (bacteria sweeps into the blood), circulatory shock (due to inadequate levels of oxygen in the body), cardiac arrhythmias (the heart's normal rhythm is disrupted), gastric perforation (a complete penetration of the wall of the stomach, resulting in intestinal contents flowing into the dog's abdominal cavity) , peritonitis ( a dangerous swelling of the the thin tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen and covers most of the abdominal organs). Death is the final stage.

Owners must be aware of this issue to both take preventative steps and to keep an eye out for signs.

This can happen to Boxer puppies, however most cases happen to Boxers between the age of 3 and 7 years old. It can be surprising to owners to know that this can happen to the healthiest of dogs.

What Causes This?

  • Overeating or eating too fast - this is the most common reason
  • Exercising heavily right before or right after eating
  • Gulping down a large amount of water directly after eating a meal
  • Stress also plays a role

What are the Symptoms?

Early Signs
  • Pacing
  • Drooling
  • The stomach will not show the bloat yet, but it will feel "tight"
  • Weakness
  • Appearing to be uncomfortable
  • Hanging the head low
Symptoms Once Volvulus Begins (the actual twisting of the stomach and a serious stage of bloat that requires emergency attention):
  • Vomiting or dry heaving
  • Excessive drooling
  • Whining, moaning
  • A tight stomach that is clearly visible to you - it will appear distended and protrude more than normal.
  • The dog may walk in a strange way due to the pain and twisted stomach
  • Signs that your Boxer dog is in pain and discomfort - a dog may want to be alone or may act aggressive if you try to go near him...a dog may feel vulnerable when in pain and many will become very defensive.
  • Signs of shock - pale gums, shallow breathing, a slow heartbeat and a coolness of the skin


There are several causes for this canine health problem, all which an owner can beware of to prevent this.

1)  Do not allow your Boxer to exercise immediately after eating - Explained in our Feeding section, a Boxer should not be taken for a walk within 1 hour and should not engage in heavy exercise for 2 hours.

2) Food should not be gulped down fast. Use a stainless steel slow-feeder bowl that encourages slow eating or place a portion placer into the bowl that you have. 

3) Drinking water fast can cause bloat too.  Slow-feeding bowls should be for water as well.  Also make sure your Boxer is well hydrated before walks or exercise and take water with you. Halfway through the session, have your Boxer rest and hydrate.  Both of these steps will help your Boxer not drink so fast when he returns homes. 
4) Only feed your Boxer a high quality food (brands containing fillers can cause bloat, so please only choose a top-end brand) or healthy home cooked food.

5) Spicy or greasy human food is not only unhealthy for a Boxer, it can also lead to canine bloat. Be sure not to overfeed him or her. Follow proper feeding guidelines in regard to both quantity and timing.

Recent studies have proven that raised bowls increase the chances of bloat for large dogs; therefore a Boxer should have both food and water bowls at floor level. 


A Boxer with Bloat must be taken to an emergency animal hospital. 
Only there can a dog receive the treatment for this serious issue. 

A tube will be inserted into the stomach to help remove gas and food, it usually rushed out rather quickly when this is done. The veterinarian will then cleanse the Boxer's stomach. 

Food and water will be restricted for 36 to 48 hours afterward. In many cases, the dog will need to remain in an animal hospital in order to receive hydration and nutrients via an IV during this time.

If this does not work, surgery will be done on the dog. 

Gastroplexy may be done, a procedure in which the Boxer's stomach will be attached to the wall of their body in order to prevent the twisting.

If irreparable damage has been done, parts of the stomach and/or spleen may need to be removed. When gastroplexy is performed, the odds of a Boxer having Bloat again is greatly reduced. Although, one should still follow the preventative advice above. 
You may also wish to see:
Boxer dog skin problems - Common issues seen with this breed, along with at-home treatments. 
Boxer dog eye discharge - How much is normal and steps you can take to keep the eye area nice and clean. 
Boxer dog ear infections - Types of infections that can develop. Signs, diagnosis, and treatment options. 
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