Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)
Signs and Treatment
By Dr. Danielle Huval
Do you have a dog? Then you need to know about GDV.
Gastric dilatation-volvulus or bloat is a life-threatening emergency that affects large and giant breed dogs. GDV is when the stomach rotates on itself, which cuts off blood supply to the stomach and prevents gas and food from escaping. This is extremely painful and can lead to shock and death within hours. The good news is that with prompt treatment 80% of dogs survive.
Certain breeds of dogs are at greater risk for GDV and the risk increases with age. These breeds are Great Dane, Swiss Mountain Dogs, St. Bernard, Weimaraners, setter breeds, Bassett Hounds and German Shepherds. Dogs are at greater risk if they eat only one meal a day, are fed from an elevated bowl, fed small kibble, eat rapidly, have a relative that suffered from GDV, and have a nervous temperament.
Many dogs with GDV will have a large bloated abdomen. Other symptoms include drooling, frequent retching and attempts to vomit, restlessness, or depression. These signs call for immediate veterinary attention. At the emergency clinic, dogs suffering from suspected GDV are treated for shock, given pain medications and their stomach is decompressed. X-rays are then taken to confirm the diagnosis of GDV.
All dogs with GDV require surgery. Surgery involves de-rotating the stomach and performing a gastropexy. A gastropexy tacks the stomach to the wall of the abdomen (internally) and prevents the stomach from moving out of position. After surgery, hospitalization is necessary to monitor and treat common complications, such as abnormal heartbeat and low blood pressure.
In dogs at risk for GDV, a preventative gastropexy can be performed. Laparoscopic assisted gastropexys are minimally painful and dogs go home the same day of surgery. Talk to your veterinarian about the risks and benefits of preventative gastropexy.
Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists (AMVS) is a 24-hour veterinary facility providing specialty internal medicine, surgery, emergency and critical care, physical rehabilitation, pain management, and blood bank services for pets. They are located in Longmont at 104 S. Main St. For more information, go to www.AspenMeadowVet.com.