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Posted on 10-14-2011

Gastric Dilation and volvulus (GDV) is commonly referred to as bloat.  This is a syndrome that primarily affects large or giant breed, deep chested dogs such as great danes, standard poodles, shepherds and retrievers.  This occurs when the stomach dilates and twists around its central axis. Unfortunately, about 35-40% of dog's will die from this. The most important things for an owner to do is to be able to recognize the signs and take their pet to a veterinarian immediately.  

Signs that owners will notice at home are: Bloat_1.JPG

  1. repeated non productive retching
  2. restlessness
  3. progressive abdominal distention
  4. hypersalivation (drooling excessively)
  5. weakness/collapse 

This is a true emergency situation. Untreated dogs will go into shock and ultimately heart failure. Treatment involves aggressive intravenous fluid therapy followed by placing a tube into the stomach to empty all the contents (food and air). Then surgery can be performed.  During surgery, the stomach will be manually untwisted and then sutured to the inside of the body wall to prevent any further torsion or twisting.  In some cases, portions of the stomach and the spleen need to be removed if they have lost blood supply (which can occur even within a few hours). Most patients recover in an ICU setting for at least 24 hours. Then they can be discharged with strict activity restrictions for 10-14 days. 

The cause of GDV is still unknown.  There are many factors which have been investigated as a precursor or cause but none have been proven. Although one common factor is that the dog may have recently been fed. Therefore, some preventative suggestions for breeds at risk are: 

  1. Avoid eating large amounts of food or fluids and instead feed smaller meals throughout the day
  2. Avoid exercising immediately after eating 

Dogs doing well a week after surgery have a favorable prognosis for complete recovery.  If you ever have any concerns that this may be happening to your dog, please call. This can be diagnosed easily with a single x ray.  The faster your dog is diagnosed the higher the likelihood that they will do well. 

Please call us with any questions or concerns

Jennifer Granite, Veterinarian, Eagle Animal Hospital

Serving Exton, Downingtown, Glenmore and all of Chester County

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