Gastric Dilation and Volvulus
What is Gastric Dilation and Volvulus?
Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) is a condition where the stomach distends and then rotates around its axis leading to a series of life threatening physiological changes not only locally around the stomach but generally throughout the body.
How does my dog get GDV?
There are breeds that are predisposed to GDV (see below). There is speculation on a variety of causes including the timing of food and water ingestion relative to exercise. The primary risk factor consistently identified is the ingestion of large volumes of food and water and intense activity or stress. The progression of the condition is: ingestion of food and water; obstruction of the stomach openings on either end; dilation of the stomach worsening the obstruction and volvulus; note: twisting may occur without dilation; the twisting leads to damage to the stomach and effects the blood flow to the stomach; secondary changes in the blood flow to the body, respiratory tract, heart rhythm abnormalities, and spleen all contribute to the grave prognosis.
How do I know if my dog has GDV?
High risk breeds with non-productive efforts to vomit, drooling or hypersalivation, and an increasingly distended abdomen are early signs in conjunction with pain, weakness and depression. This is an ABSOLUTE LIFE THREATENING EMERGENCY. Your veterinarian or the emergency clinician will examine your pet for classic clinical changes, take radiographs, blood samples and initiate life saving procedures while confirming the diagnosis. Do NOT hesitate if you suspect your pet has GDV.
What can I do about GDV?
Go to your veterinarian or an emergency clinic immediately. A combination of medical and surgical critical care actions are needed to save your dog with the hope that there is NO permanently lasting damage either short term or long term. Prognosis depends upon the speed of diagnosis and treatment (surgery).
Is there anything I can do to prevent my dog from getting GDV?
If you have a high risk breed or if your pet has had a GDV, consider a procedure called a gastropexy that anchors the stomach to the body wall (ribs) and thus prevents the twisting that causes the major problems. Try to avoid excitement or stress around mealtime. Consider small meals frequently for your dog. DO NOT EXERCISE your dog immediately after they eat.
Are there certain breeds that get GDV more often?
German shepherds, Great Danes, Saint Bernard, Rottweilers, Labrador Retrievers, Alaskan Malamutes, any large, deep, chested, breeds including dachshund, Pekingese.