Gastic Dilation Volvulus (GDV) is known as "Bloat", "Stomach Torsion" or "Twisted Stomach" is a life threatening condition that most commonly affects large-breed, deep-chested dogs mainly over two years of age. Owners of susceptible breeds should be knowledgeable about the signs of the disease, since early and prompt treatment can greatly improve the outcome.
There are no home remedies for bloat, therefore dog owners must contact their vets immediately if they suspect that their dog has bloat. Dogs can die of bloat within several hours. Even with treatment, as many as 25-33% of dogs with GDV die.
Not all dogs that have a gas buildup and resultant dilatation develop the more serious and life threatening volvulus. However, almost all dogs that have a volvulus develop it as a result of a dilatation.
Bloat is a very serious and life threatening condition. Understanding the signs, prevention, and need for prompt treatment will help reduce the risk of mortality if your dog develops this problem.
What are the signs?
The most obvious signs are abdominal distention (swollen belly) and nonproductive vomiting (animal appears to be vomiting, but nothing comes up) and retching. Other signs include restlessness, abdominal pain, and rapid shallow breathing. Excessive salivation may indicate severe pain. If the dog's condition continues to deteriorate, especially if volvulus has occurred, the dog may go into shock and become pale, have a weak pulse, a rapid heart rate, and eventually collapse. A dog with gastric dilatation without volvulus can show all of these signs, but the more severe signs are likely to occur in dogs with both dilatation and volvulus.
How is Gastirc Dilation and Volvulus treated?
Blood samples are generally taken and tested to help determine the dog's status. Usually the animal is in shock, or predisposed to it, so intravenous catheters are placed and fluids are administered. Antibiotics and pain relievers may be given.
The air in the stomach is removed either by passing a stomach tube or inserting a large needle into the stomach and releasing the gas. After the animal is stabilized, x-rays are taken to help determine whether or not a volvulus is present.
The heart rate and rhythm are closely monitored. Some dogs with GDV develop heartarrhythmias, and this is a common cause of death in dogs with GDV. Dogs that already have a heart disease or are prone to heart arrythmias are generally treated with appropriate medications.
Once the dog is stabilised, abdominal surgery is usually indicated to accomplish three things:
Assess the health of the stomach and surrounding organs. If areas of the stomach or spleen have been irreversibly damaged, they are removed. In such a case, the chances for recovery are very poor, and euthanasia may be an alternative
- Assess the health of the stomach and surrounding organs. If areas of the stomach or spleen have been irreversibly damaged, they are removed. In such a case, the chances for recovery are very poor, and euthanasia may be an alternative
- Properly reposition the stomach
- Suture the stomach in a way to prevent it from twisting again (a procedure called gastropexy). If gastropexy is not performed, 75-80% of dogs will develop GDV again.
What steps can you take to minimise the risk?
By following the preventive measures recommended, pet owners can further reduce the likelihood of their pet developing this devastating condition.
- Large dogs should be fed two or three times daily, rather than once a day.
- Water should be available at all times, but should be limited immediately after feeding.
- Vigorous exercise, excitement, and stress should be avoided one hour before and at least two hours after meals.
- Diet changes should be made gradually over a period of three to five days.
- Susceptible dogs should be fed individually and, if possible in a quiet location.
- Owners of susceptible breeds should be aware of the early signs of bloat and contact their vet as soon as possible if GDV is suspected.
- Dogs that are prone to bolting down food can be fed from a specially designed bowl to reduce this