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Gastric Dilatation

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), also know as, “Bloat”, Gastric or Stomach Torsion, Stomach Torsion or Twisted Stomach is a rapidly progressive condition of dogs and is considered a life-threatening condition. If you think your dog is experiencing “Bloat”, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Although the true cause of bloat has not been determined and it has been documented in almost every breed, it is believed that one of or a combination of the following may be involved:

  • Eating a large meal (eating a single large meal once a day or getting into a bag of food and gorging)
  • Rapid eating
  • Drinking a large amount of water
  • Exercise after a meal
  • Eating or drinking from elevated food or water bowls
  • Breed predisposition in breeds with deep chests such as the Great Dane, Weimaraner, St. Bernard, Gordon Setter, Akitas, Irish Setter, Standard Poodle, Irish Wolfhound, German Shepherd, and Doberman Pinscher.
  • Genetic inheritance: increased risks for dogs that have had relatives with the condition.
  • Decreased mobility
  • Pets that have had a surgery to remove the spleen called a splenectomy
  • Stress
  • A 2006 study also determined that dogs fed dry dog foods that list oils (e.g. sunflower oil, animal fat) among the first four label ingredients predispose a high-risk dog to GDV.

Most Veterinarians believe, “Bloat” starts out as dilation of the stomach causing pressure within the stomach to increase. This increased pressure may lead to severe consequences:

  • Decreased blood return to the heart from the abdomen
  • loss of blood flow to the stomach
  • rupture of the stomach
  • pressure on the diaphragm decreasing the ability for the lungs to adequately expand.

Once the stomach rotates in the abdomen, the condition is then called a volvulus. This twisting of the stomach cuts off blood supply to the stomach and the spleen. The animal then enters a state of shock.


It is urgent that the pet have the gas build up within the stomach released (decompression), receive fluids to counteract shock and surgery to rotate the stomach back to its normal position. Once in it’s normal position, a “gastropexy” will be performed. A gastropexy permanently attaches the stomach to the body wall, so that if “Bloat” occurs again the stomach is unable to twist within the abdomen.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • pacing, anxious
  • unable to get comfortable
  • abdominal pain
  • laying down and getting up several times
  • licking the floor, air, furniture, lips
  • drooling
  • distended abdomen
  • retching without production
  • panting
  • weakness
  • recumbency
  • death

Diagnosing Bloat:

  • abdominal x-rays are used to confirm a diagnosis


Most pets will be hospitalized and given intravenous fluids for potentially several days. Exercise restriction until sutures are removed and feeding small meals (3-4 during the day) will initially be discussed.


Approximately 15% of GDV patients will not survive even if treated early. Survival rates and complication rates increase as severity and time of illness increase.

Decreased survival has been associated with:

  • Clinical signs for more than 6 hours
  • Cardiac arrhythmias prior to surgery
  • Stomach rupture or death of stomach wall requiring removal
  • Removal of the spleen

As a preventative measure, Metropolitan Veterinary Center recommends prophylactic gastropexy breeds at risk for development of the condition or in dogs that have relatives that have been related to others that have had this condition. Prophylactic gastropexy can be performed at the same time as a pet’s spay and neuter procedure. It adds little additional anesthetic time and cost to these procedures.