Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

February 11, 2021

A challenging emergency for the team is called a GDV (Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus).  This is a rapidly progressive, life-threatening condition in dogs and can result in death.

The condition is commonly associated with large meals and causes the stomach to expand because of the food and gas.  This expansion can cause the stomach to rotate in the abdomen (volvulus) which leads to a blockage in the blood supply to the spleen and the stomach. 

This in turn leads to the prevention of an adequate blood flow to the heart from the abdomen and pressure on the diaphragm, preventing the lungs from expanding adequately.  Dogs will quickly go into shock because of the effects on their entire body and will require urgent treatment. This involves stabilising the dog, decompression of the stomach and surgery to return the stomach to its normal position permanently.

See our emergency pet care information

What is GDV?

The syndrome is not completely understood but there are certain breeds of dog; those that have a deep chest, are fed a single large meal once a day, are older or are related to other dogs that have experienced a GDV, that are prone to the condition. Many breeds have been known to have experienced stomach expansion with or without the stomach rotation but the more commonly affected breeds are those such as Great Danes, Weimaraners, St Bernards, Irish setters and Gordon setters.

It’s very important that owners know the symptoms to be aware of as time is of the essence.  Symptoms to look out for are:

  • an anxious look or looking at the abdomen
  • standing and stretching
  • drooling
  • distending their abdomen
  • retching without producing anything
  • bloating
  • panting
  • weakness and/or collapse
  • need to lay down

The treatment process itself isn’t without risk but without it the condition is fatal.  For more information and resources visit the PDSA website.

If you have any concerns about the health of your pet, please do call the team who will be happy to advise.  Call the team on 01772 639800 OR 01253 766352 or open a chat on PetsApp.

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