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Foley Veterinary Hospital
Christopher A. Ainsworth, DVM
Providing Quality Pet Care
Call: (251) 943-5152

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) is a multifactorial issue that can be caused by a combination of genetics, anatomy, and environmental factors. GDV is the twisting of the stomach in a way that cuts off blood supply, trapping gasses and creating a life-threatening circumstance. Typically, larger dog breeds or breeds with narrow, deep chests are at a higher risk for GDV, and that risk increases with age. Cats and small dogs can still develop GDV, though it is very rare.

GDV is a two part process in which the stomach first bloats or dilates, filling with air, then undergoes torsion or volvulus, spinning on its axis. In less severe cases, a pet suffers from bloat (gastric dilatation) alone. The actual twisting of the stomach (volvulus) is a life-threatening situation that can be fatal within a matter of minutes. When a pet suffers GDV it can then cause the following emergencies: 

  • Swollen stomach. 
  • Pressure on the abdomen. 
  • Damage to cardiovascular system. 
  • Decreased blood flow.

If your pet can burp or vomit it is probably not experiencing GDV. However, if your pet seems to be in excruciating pain, contact our office immediately and we can initiate tests to check for torsion.

Symptoms that could indicate Gastric Dilatation Volvulus:

  • Abdominal pain.
  • Anxiousness. 
  • Depression. 
  • Difficulty breathing. 
  • Excessive salivation. 
  • Hardness developed in the stomach. 
  • Sudden collapse. 
  • Unexplainable weakness.
  • Vomiting or dry heaving.

Treatment options for bloat and Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

Gastric dilatation is considered an emergency situation. Once your pet arrives, we will assess their condition and administer any necessary pain relievers or antibiotics prior to gastric decompression. After relieving the bloat from the stomach, we will perform X-rays to determine if your pet is suffering from dilatation alone or if volvulus has also occurred.

If volvulus is present, surgical options will be discussed. Surgery is necessary to return internal organs to their normal positioning, and permanent gastropexy (surgically securing stomach in upright position) is often recommended. Once a volvulus has occurred, 75 to 80% of dogs develop it again; gastropexy can prevent future reoccurrences of GDV.

If you witness any of these changes in your pet, please contact our office immediately as it could indicate a serious health emergency.