Gastric dilatation volvulus, otherwise known as GDV or Gastric torsion, occurs before or after your dog’s stomach twists, becoming overstretched and rotated by excessive gas content.
The illness, called bloat occasionally, can be life-threatening and often requires immediate treatment. It is most common in certain breeds, with deep-chested dogs mostly affected. The rate of mortality for dogs suffering from GDV is 10 to 60%, while with surgery the risks of mortality are between 15 to 33%.
This is where things can get tricky, as symptoms can generally not be distinguished from other types of stress caused by illness. Generally, your dog will look very uncomfortable for what may seem like no reason. Other symptoms can include, depression, weight loss, loss of appetite, lethargy, weakness, a difficulty in breathing, vomiting without any vomit, hypersalivation and more. Dogs with GDV will also have a high risk of cardiac arrhythmia, affecting their heartbeat rate.
There are a number of causes of GDV in dogs, although in every case it is caused by dysfunction in the sphincter, between the stomach and esophagus, as well as an obstruction through the pylorus.
Other factors which aid the development of GDV include: Breed, Deep chest, age, overfeeding, over-consumption of water, and eating foods which cause stomach expansion (eg. Kibble). Other studies have found that dogs are at an increased risk if they are not happy. Dogs with an inflammatory bowel disorder will also be more at risk, while dogs who scoff down their food quickly are also at high risk.
Dogs eating only once a day are also more at risk, while dogs which consume food which is made up of particles smaller than 30mm are more at risk. Foods containing high amounts of fats and oils also increase the risk.
Treatment for GDV should be sought immediately, as it can be fatal in a mere few minutes depending on the extent of the stomach twisting. Have your dog looked at by a vet as soon as possible.
Intravenous fluid therapy is a common treatment for GDV, while emergency surgery may also be required. This involves the stomach being back into its correct position, following the removal of excessive gas. The abdomen will also be examined for any devitalized tissues.
Regular GDV attacks can become a problem after the first incident. It can reoccur up to 80% of the time for animals treated by medications and not surgery. There are many ways to prevent GDV.
For dogs treated with surgery, during the first surgery a right-sided gastropexy can be performed. This involves attaching the stomach wall to the body wall, to prevent it moving.
Easy precautions for a dog owner to take is to start feeding your animal smaller meals throughout the day, instead of one large meal. Exercise immediately before and after meals, should also be prevented.