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Canine Gastric Dilation Volvulus

sad looking boxer
Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric Dilation-Volvulus (GDV) is a very serious and life-threatening condition that requires emergency veterinary care and surgery. This condition is commonly associated with eating large meals and inhaling excessive air causing the stomach to distend and twist. As the stomach fills with air and twists within itself, the spleen and pancreas can get tangled. This can create a restriction of blood flow from the abdomen to the heart. If this happens, severe metabolic problems can occur, resulting in death. There are no at-home remedies or Gas-X that are effective in treating GDV. Your pet will need emergency veterinary care and surgery, or he will die.

How to tell if your dog is suffering from GDV?

  • Hard and enlarged abdomen (abdomen appears bloated)

  • Painful abdomen

  • Increase salivation

  • Fast, heavy or difficulty breathing

  • Restlessness & Pacing (having difficulty laying down)

  • Unproductive retching

  • Standing with neck extended and elbows pointed outward (trying to breath)

  • Increased and irregular pulse and heart rate

  • Pale gum color (this is a sign of poor blood circulation)


How can I reduce my dog's chances of GDV?

We recommend feeding smaller, frequent meals rather than one large meal once a day.

Encourage your dog to eat slower. Here are some recommended interactive feeder bowls for your fast eater.

Reduce stress by separating your dogs during feeding if one is protective of his food and scarfs it down to prevent the other dogs from eating it.

Don't feed your dog before or after exercising, especially for larger breeds. A general rule of thumb is to withhold food an hour before or after exercise.

Elevating food bowls does not reduce the risk of GDV. It has been proven that elevating the food bowls doesn't help or prevent the condition.

Large and giant breed dogs with deep chests and narrow waists have an increased risk for GDV. This doesn't mean smaller breeds like Chihuahuas can't experience GDV. Larger breeds are more prone to this condition.

Breeds at risk of developing GDV

  • Weimaraner

  • St. Bernard

  • Akitas

  • Doberman Pinschers

  • Irish setter

  • Rottweiler

  • Standard poodle

  • Old English Sheepdogs


Once your dog is admitted into the hospital, he will be started on intravenous fluid for supportive care, radiographs, blood work, ECG monitoring (heart monitoring), blood pressure monitoring, and treatment for shock. Once he is stable, he'll be taken into surgery for two procedures. The first procedure will be to decompress the stomach. In the second procedure, the doctor will turn the stomach back to its correct position. Then tack the stomach to the abdominal wall, called gastropexy, to prevent the stomach from twisting again. Ninety percent of dogs affected with this condition will twist again if the gastropexy is not done (Merck Veterinary Manual). For large breed puppies, the gastropexy procedure is recommended at the time of spay or neuter to prevent GDV from occurring.



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