Do German Shorthaired Pointers Have Sensitive Stomachs?

A German Shorthaired Pointer with a red collar enjoying a meal from a silver bowl.

If you have a German Shorthaired Pointer or are considering GSP ownership, you may be wondering whether you’ll have to worry about a sensitive stomach.

There are some things you’ll need to know in order to keep a GSP’s tummy happy.

Do German Shorthaired Pointers have sensitive stomachs? German Shorthaired Pointers don’t have particularly sensitive stomachs compared to other dogs of their size and body type, but they can be prone to bloat, a life-threatening condition of the stomach. Thankfully, there are things you can do to prevent bloat in your GSP.

If you have a GSP, you want to keep him safe and comfortable at all times.

One of the best things that you can do for your dog is to educate yourself about proper canine nutrition, preventing stomach upset, and avoiding the dangerous condition known as bloat.

Are German Shorthaired Pointers’ Stomachs Particularly Sensitive?

The GSP does not have a more sensitive stomach than other dogs of similar size and build, on average.

However, because they are high-energy, large dogs who can be prone to bloat, they do require a specific diet. 

What Should I Feed My GSP?

Because they are very high-energy dogs, the GSP benefits from a diet rich in protein with carbohydrates for long-lasting energy. 

The huge variety of dog foods available can be overwhelming. Check our Ultimate Guide to the Best Dog Foods and Treats to eliminate all the confusion and make a wise choice.

You want your GSP to have a silky, shiny coat, so you’ll likely want to put him on a diet that is rich in healthy oils, but make sure that the oil content is not too high in the diet, as it may contribute to bloat. 

What Is Bloat?

Bloat is an extremely dangerous emergency condition in which the stomach flips over within your dog’s abdomen.

The stomach fills with air and pressure builds. Blood in the hind legs and further down in the abdomen can’t get back to the heart.

As the blood pools in the hind end, the dog will likely go into shock as blood volume reduces in the front end of the body.

As the stomach flips, it can also take along the pancreas and the spleen, cutting off the flow of blood.

As the pancreas is starved of oxygen, it releases toxic hormones that can stop the heart.

This is particularly awful because a dog can successfully be treated for bloat and then die because of the toxins released by the pancreas.

Why Do Dogs Get Bloat?

No one is sure exactly why dogs get bloat, but we know that it is more prevalent in deep-chested, large dogs, like the German Shorthaired Pointer

How to Treat Bloat

There is no home treatment for bloat. Your GSP will need to go to the veterinarian as soon as you suspect that bloat may be taking place.

Your veterinarian will treat the shock that your dog is going through to stop them from dying before further steps can be taken. 

As soon as the dog is relatively stable, he goes into surgery to remove the air from the stomach and put it back in the position it is supposed to be in.

Damaged areas of stomach wall may be removed. Dogs who get bloat often get it again, so your veterinarian will likely attach the stomach to the abdominal wall to keep it from twisting around.

Symptoms of Bloat

Always be on watch for any potential symptoms of bloat in your German Shorthaired Pointer.

It is especially important to be on alert for bloat when your dog is young and you are not yet accustomed to their normal digestive habits.

Visibly Enlarged Abdomen

A dog who’s experiencing bloat will actually look bloated. You’ll be able to see the abdomen expand as bloat takes place.

Retching

A dog who is experiencing bloat may try to relieve the pressure by vomiting or burping, but they’re unlikely to be able to.

You may see excessive salivation as your dog is struggling to vomit.

Restlessness and Discomfort

Bloat is very painful, from the beginning all the way through the ordeal.

Your dog will likely be restless and feel uncomfortable. A sensitive dog like the GSP may look to you for help.

Pain in the Abdomen

If you put any pressure on your dog’s abdomen, he will feel pain.

Picking your dog up with an arm under the belly will cause him to whine and possibly even snap at you.

Preventing Bloat

The most serious sensitivity that your GSP’s stomach might have is bloat.

It is an extremely dangerous condition that many large-breed dogs can experience in the prime of life. It can even be deadly if not treated appropriately.

Treatment can be costly and is not always effective.  

Dogs can die within hours of getting bloat. It’s best to shape your GSP’s lifestyle to avoid bloat before it begins.

There is lots of folklore about how to prevent bloat, but only a couple of scientifically-backed solutions. The first step to avoiding bloat is knowing which dogs are most likely to get it. 

Body Type

Dogs who tend to be more tall than wide and have very narrow, deep chests are the most likely to get bloat.

Great Danes are the stereotypical example of this body type, but German Shorthaired Pointers also show the deep narrow chest that is predictive of bloat. 

Dogs who have relatives who have suffered from bloat are much more likely to experience bloat.

Make sure that you purchase your GSP from a breeder whose breeding stock has not experienced this disease. 

Diet

Certain diets have been found to increase the risk of bloat significantly.

Foods with soybean meal and foods that have oil or fat within the first four ingredients make it much more likely that your dog will experience bloat, so avoid these kinds of diets. 

Feeding dogs once a day makes them much more likely to bloat than being fed twice a day. Dogs who eat faster are more likely to bloat than dogs who eat more slowly.

Preventative Surgery

If you are not confident that your dog’s bloodline is free of bloat and you’re worried that your dog may be susceptible to this disease, there is a preventative surgery that you can consider.

It is called a surgical gastropexy. It can be performed when your dog is sterilized.

Talk to your veterinarian about this option if you’re worried about your GSP’s susceptibility to bloat. 

Feed Your German Shorthaired Pointer Wisely

To nourish your dog’s coat and muscles, avoid stomach upset, and make sure that bloat doesn’t occur, make good choices in how you feed your GSP.

High-Protein, Low-Fat Diet

Avoid soybeans in your GSP’s diet and make sure fat isn’t one of the first ingredients.

Instead, choose a diet high in protein to nourish your GSP’s muscles and give him plenty of energy throughout the day. 

Carbohydrates

Healthy carbs from well-tolerated grains are a good way to give your dog a healthy coat and energy throughout the day so he won’t feel too hungry when he is fed.

Multiple Feedings Daily

Feeding twice a day makes bloat less likely, so it can be assumed that feeding your GSP more often makes it even less likely.

Bloat occurs because of the interaction of food and air in your dog’s stomach, so feeding your dog less, more often, can be a big help.

However, you should make sure that your dog does not exercise soon after eating, so adjust feeding times based on when your dog will exercise.

Slow Down Your Dog’s Eating

Dogs who eat faster are much more likely to get bloat. You can use a special bowl to encourage slow feeding or use a food dispensing toy.

Because German Shorthaired Pointers are so receptive to training, you can also consider a work-to-eat training style in which you feed your dog for good behavior throughout the day. 

Keep Your Dog Calm

Make sure your dog is calm and exercised when he eats. Dogs who are stressed out, hyperactive, or scared are more likely to bloat.

GSPs can be hyper dogs, so it’s best to feed your GSP after he has exercised, once he has had a chance to rest.

This way, your dog will be calm, relaxed, and willing to take it easy after he finishes eating.

Keep dogs separated from one another so they won’t feel stressed by one another’s presence while they’re eating.