Stirling Veterinary Services

36 Wilson Rd

Stirling, ON

K0K 3E0

(613) 395-2716

Bloat/Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV)

What is GDV?

Gastric Dilation and Volvulus is a life threatening disease that is seen most commonly in large, deep-chested dogs.  GDV starts with the stomach filling with gas which is called gastric dilation or "bloat".  This can then progress to the stomach twisting upon itself which is called a volvulus.  When this happens both the entrance and exit to the stomach become blocked and blood flow to the stomach is also compromised.  GDV is life threatening and requires immediate medical attension.

What causes GDV?

The exact cause of this condition is unknown.  Although any dog can be affected, it occurs most commonly in large, deep chested dogs that have been eating or drinking and then excercise.  Highest risk breeds inculde great danes, saint bernards, weimaraners, irish setters, standard poodles, basset hounds, domberman pinschers and old english sheepdogs.  Recent studies have shown that stress or fear may also be contributing factors.

What are the signs of GDV?

          * distressed/anxious behaviour

          * panting

          * abdominal distension (more often on the left side)

          * non productive attempts to vomit

          * collapse

How is GDV diagnosed?

GDV is diagnosed based on a combination of history, physical examination findings and abdominal radiographs.

How is GDV treated?

Once diagnosed, it is imperative that treatment be initiated immediately.  Treatment commonly involves:

          *  Rapid intravenous fluids to treat shock

          *  Decompression (reduction) of the stomach by passing a stomach tube (if


          *  Surgery to untwist the stomach, remove unhealthy tissue and tack/secure

              the stomach in its normal position to prevent recurrence of GDV

Is there anything that can be done to prevent GDV?

Gastropexy is the most effective means of preventing GDV.  This procedure involves surgically attaching/anchoring the stomach to the body wall.  At Stirling Veterinary Services we recommend a preventative gastropexy for large breed dogs when they are in for spay and neutering however this can be done at any age.  

We also encourage feeding two or more meals per day and adding a little canned food to the diet to help minimize the risk.