Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV), commonly referred to as Bloat, is an emergency condition in dogs. When a dog’s stomach dilates or becomes enlarged, it can twist. The stomach is not able to release any of the gas that builds up inside and this can cause a pet to become very ill in less than an hour. GDV is life threatening and will not resolve on its own. Immediate intervention is essential. GDV can also occur without the stomach twisting. The stomach twisting is called torsion. GDV with and without torsion has the same symptoms. Both types of GDV need to be treated right away.
Causes of GDV
- Large, deep-chested dogs are at risk. Examples include Great Danes, German Shepherds, Weimaraners, St. Bernards, Rottweilers, and Standard Poodles.
- Dogs are more at risk of developing GDV if they are running, jumping, and playing outside immediately after eating. Let your dog rest after eating a meal or play before a feeding.
- Dogs who eat one or two large meals a day are at greater risk than dogs who eat multiple smaller meals a day.
- Dogs who eat very quickly are more likely to develop GDV. Owner of dog breeds who are at risk can encourage slower eating by purchasing special food bowls that make it harder for their pet to eat too quickly. Please see the image included.
- Drinking large amounts of water—usually after exercise—can increase a dog’s risk.
Signs of GDV
- Distended abdomen
- Non-productive vomiting/retching
- Severe abdominal pain
- Rapid shallow breathing
- Hypersalivation (drooling more than usual)
Problems Associated with GDV
- Loss of blood flow to/from the abdomen
- Pressure on the diaphragm from the stomach being filled with gas which causes difficulty breathing
- Rupture of stomach
GDV is easily diagnosed so if you suspect your dog has Bloat bring them to your emergency veterinarian immediately. If you have a dog that is at risk for GDV due to breed, activity, or eating patterns, talk to your veterinarian about a procedure called Gastropexy. Gastropexy, the internal tacking of the stomach to the abdominal wall, can be done during other procedures such as spays to prevent the stomach from twisting in the future.