Prevention of Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus

Prevention of Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus
By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, TX

Vet McKinney TXGastric Dilatation/Volvulus (GDV), also known as “Bloat”, is a true emergency situation seen most commonly in larger breeds of dogs, but which can occur in any dog or cat in certain situations.  The syndrome involves an abnormal twisting of the stomach that constricts the esophagus and duodenum. Stomach contents that are then trapped in the stomach  produce gases that dilate the stomach to create the abdominal+ swelling seen with this condition.

Large, deep-chested dogs are predisposed for GDV, and many factors can be involved in stimulating an episode.  Great Danes, St. Bernards, Weimaraners, Basset Hounds, Setters, and Standard Poodles are breeds at increased risk of GDV.  Vets in McKinney, TX have long suspected that exercise after a full meal can bring about the stomach twisting.  Some factors can include:  delayed stomach emptying due to many possible causes, swallowing large volumes of air (aerophagia), abdominal trauma, medications that slow stomach motility, prolonged surgical procedures, and lying in a prone position.

Studies have investigated various food components and found that elevated vegetable products in the food combined with oily or fatty constituents may be a factor.  Breed and individual predisposition are important considerations, and we know that the risk increases with age.  Vets in McKinney, TX always recommend curtailing exercise after meals in susceptible dogs, and we suggest feeding several small meals instead of one or two large meals.

The simple truth is this: the only measure that effectively prevents GDV is surgically “tacking” the stomach, permanently fixing it to the body wall, thus preventing twisting in the future.  There are several procedures described in surgical literature, and as a vet in McKinney, TX, I have used the “belt loop” gastropexy and the incisional gastropexy techniques with great success.  These procedures are, of course, used in the surgical treatment of a dog with active bloat, but we are stressing the wisdom of gastropexy in young dogs of susceptible breeds to simply prevent future occurrences of GDV.

Direct relatives – offspring or siblings – of dogs that have had GDV are obvious candidates for the procedures, and certainly dogs of the most predisposed breeds should be considered as well.  We routinely perform gastropexies during spay or neuter surgeries in susceptible dogs, since this is the best option available to prevent a possibly fatal incident in future years.

Vet McKinney TX
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
5913 Virginia Parkway
McKinney, Texas 75071
214-856-7005

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