Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat)

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (Bloat)
By Dr. Ed Mapes
Stonebridge Animal Hospital
McKinney, Texas

What is GDV in Dogs?

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) is a life threatening condition that can occur in any dog but is most frequently seen in large breed, deep-chested dogs with narrow waists. Great Danes and Doberman Pincers are especially at risk. This condition, also known as “bloat,” arises when the stomach twists out of its normal position. This twisting (volvulus) prevents escape of stomach gases and also pinches off blood vessels to the stomach.

Note the abdominal swelling in this patient with GDV. Patient is being monitored closely and is being prepped for treatment.





Symptoms of GDV
Once twisted, the stomach expands; it is at this point that many owners first become aware of the problem. A lack of blood circulation within the stomach causes necrosis of stomach tissue, and changes within the bloodstream cause results in other derangements in the body. GDV cases are medical emergencies and must be managed immediately. It is possible to treat these patients successfully if the condition is treated within the first 6-8 hours, but beyond that it can becomes more difficult to save them.
GDV can occur at any time, but is seen most commonly if the dog exercises after a meal. The most obvious symptom is the enlargement of the abdomen as the stomach’s volume increases. The dogs become lethargic, begin to drool, and may attempt to vomit without production. They begin to pant, become recumbent, and may show pale mucous membranes as shock begins to set in. This is the time after which treatment may be unsuccessful, so getting to a veterinary hospital rapidly is essential.

Treatment of GDV
A number of medical issues must be dealt with in these cases, and surgery is often needed, once the patient is stabilized, to replace the stomach (and sometimes the spleen) to normal position. If the patient is stable enough, we also perform a gastropexy during surgery to prevent recurrence of GDV.

Prevention of GDV
I strongly recommend gastropexy in young, at-risk dogs to prevent bloat episodes. The procedure involves affixing the stomach to the right abdominal wall so that it cannot twist around itself and create a volvulus situation.
Having a gastropexy performed during a spay or neuter procedure is an ideal opportunity to have it done in a young dog. It is an economical way to lend peace of mind to pet owners and ensure that this life threatening situation ever occurs.

Comments are closed.