Health Info for your dog – GDV

Health Info for your Dog – Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV)

GDV, or more commonly known as Bloat, is an extremely serious condition and is a leading cause of death in dogs. While the Veterinary Industry mostly does not know the causes of Bloat/GDV what the causes of Bloat/GDV are, knowing the following signs and symptoms of Bloat and getting medical attention for your dog without delay may well save his or her life.

Gastric Dilatation- Volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition in which, for reasons not well known or understood, food and gases cause a dog’s stomach to stretch to many times its normal size.  This causes the stomach to twist between 180 and 360 degrees, closing off the entry and exit to the stomach.

In the next stages of the illness, the dog’s spleen swells, which in turns puts pressure on major veins, affecting the heart’s function. The dog’s stomach lining will start to die, which releases toxins and causes infection to set in and the heart to stop functioning properly. At this point, typically and tragically, dogs will go into shock and die.

Medical treatment for Bloat is extremely important and needs to be sought as soon as you recognise the signs and symptoms as it can be as little as 45 minutes before it is too late.

What are the risk factors for getting GDV?

While any breed of dog can get Bloat, it is much more likely to occur in dogs with large breeds of dog, with deep narrow chests. (Great Danes’, Saint Bernards’, Weimaraners’, Standard Poodles, Setters, etc.)

Other risk factors include;

  • a genetic disposition (a relative having had Bloat before)
  • being over seven years of age
  • eating habits (eating large meals, eating too quickly)
  • gulping water or drinking a lot of water with meals
  • exercising directly before or after eating,
  • nervous, anxious or fearful temperament
  • gender, male dogs are twice as likely to develop Bloat.

Signs and Symptoms of GDV?

  • Abdominal Distention (swollen hard belly) – this is first apparent on the left hind side of the abdomen
  • Non-productive vomiting and retching
  • Restlessness (pacing and panting)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Rapid shallow breathing

In the later stages as shock sets in symptoms may include

  • Profuse salivation
  • Pale gum colour
  • Weak pulse
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Lethargy
  • Collapse

Treatment of GDV

Treatment of Bloat needs to occur as quickly as possible. If you suspect Bloat contact your vet immediately and let them know.  There aren’t any treatments that you can give at home, the most important thing to do is calmly, but quickly take your dog to your Vet. You should phone your Vet to let them know you are coming and that you suspect GDV so that they can prepare. Time is of the essence in treating GDV.

The sooner treatment is received the better a dogs chances of survival, but sadly, even with the best veterinary care, surgery cases can still sometimes be fatal.

Preventing GDV

While dogs still may develop Bloat, taking the following measures may help to prevent it;

  • Know the signs and symptoms and act fast if you recognise them
  • Feed smaller meals more frequently, instead of one large meal
  • Limit water availability directly after meals and use bowls that prevent water gulping
  • Limit exercise directly before and after meals
  • If you change food/diet, do it slowly over at least a week
  • Encourage your dog to eat slowly

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