Gastric dilation volvulus (GDV) also known as "bloat," "stomach torsion," or twisted stomach" is a common life threatening condition that affects many large breed and deep chested dogs (Great Danes, German Shepherds, Mastiffs, Bulldogs and Akitas) but can affect smaller breed dogs due to factors like their anatomy, environment and care. This condition is when the stomach fills with air (dilatation) and/or twists upon itself (volvulus). The twisted stomach cannot pass food into the intestines and is not able to allow the dog to vomit or get rid of excess air by belching. The gas filled stomach also compresses the large veins in the abdomen which interferes with blood returning to the heart. This leads to sudden and rapid distension of the abdomen and restricts blood flow to the stomach and spleen. Shock, coma, and death can occur within 6-12 hours.
It is imperative that this condition be recognized early. There will be a noticeable difference in your dog's behavior. Your dog's abdomen may not have a bloated appearance. Signs may include:
- Bloated or distended abdomen
- Excessive drooling/ profuse saliva
- Multiple attempts to vomit without producing anything
If you notice any of these symptoms, call us right away. If emergency care is not received, fatality may occur within hours.
There are ways to help prevent bloat from happening to your pet:
- Gastropexy (surgical procedure) **most effective**
- Do not feed your dog immediately before or after heavy training, play or exercise. Wait 2-3 hours after feeding.
- Feed at least 2 small meals a day instead of 1 large meal.
- Do not let your pet drink excess amounts of water after eating
Gastropexy surgery is the safest and most effective method to preventing bloat and saving your dog's life. This procedure involves tacking the stomach to the abdominal wall to prevent torsion, or twisting and flipping. Gastropexy can be done at the time of spaying/neutering. Dogs that have this procedure may still experience GDV due to overconsumption, but the procedure does prevent the dangerous effects. Ask your veterinarian for details and advice if you would like to discuss preventative surgery for bloat.