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Gastric Dilation and Volvulus Syndrome (Bloat)

Gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome (GDV) is a life-threatening emergency that occurs in dogs when the stomach dilates and twists into an abnormal position. Signs include vomiting/retching, pacing, bloated abdomen, and progressing to not wanting to stand/walk and shock. Without prompt medical attention, this condition is fatal. Unfortunately, about 30% of dogs that develop GDV do not survive.

In GDV, the stomach rolls and pinches off the openings leading in from the esophagus and out to the intestines. This prevents the dog from vomiting or belching and gas starts to build up in the stomach causing to expand like a balloon. If the stomach twists enough, the spleen and major blood vessels in the area twist as well. Twisted blood vessels cause a loss of blood to the stomach and other organs which can cause considerable tissue damage. This blood flow blockage can also affect the heat leading to low blood pressure, and eventually, shock. In some cases, the stomach ruptures from the buildup of pressure and leads to life-threatening infection in the body.

Risk Factors for Bloat

We are not sure exactly why GDV’s occur in our pets, but some noted risk factors include:

  • Deep-chested breeds (Akita, Great Dane, Bouvier, Boxer, Labrador Retriever, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, etc…)
  • Drinking large amounts of water immediately after eating
  • Eating a single, large meal daily
  • Eating from a raised feeding bowl (In one study, about half of the dogs with GDV had a history of eating from a raised feeding bowl.)
  • Exercising vigorously on a full stomach
  • Gulping down food very quickly
  • Older Individuals
  • Having a relative who has had GDV

If your dog is showing any signs of GDV or Bloat, call your veterinarian immediately.

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Last updated: June 21, 2022.

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