What are Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus?
GDV is a life threatening condition affecting mainly large and giant breed dogs. There is no sex predilection. Documentation shows this condition most often affects older canines but factors such as stress, once a day feeding, and family history can have an influence.
Abdominal distension is noted and retching without producing liquid, vomit, or bile is often seen. Respiratory trouble, rupture of the stomach wall, inhibition of lung expansion, and shock can quickly set in making GDV an emergency situation. X-rays can identify the problem and surgery is typically the only way to resolve the issue.
Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) in dogs is predominantly seen in deep-chested large breed dogs. The stomach rotates from the normal position and may result with or without a dilation of the organ.
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Symptoms of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Dogs
The first sign of gastric dilatation is pain in the abdomen. Other symptoms include, but not limited to:
- Looking down at the abdomen
- Pale mucous membranes
- Difficulty breathing
- Noticeable distension of the abdomen
As the condition begins to worsen, your dog will start to pant and will show signs of bloating in the stomach. Your dog may become weak and in some cases, may collapse. During physical examination by a veterinarian, the dog may show high levels of heart rate and low levels of pulse rate.
Gastric dilatation affects every dog breed, whether a volvulus is present or not, but it mostly affects:
- Great Danes
- St. Bernards
- Gordon Setters
- Irish Setters
The volvulus is present when the stomach rotates or revolves within the abdomen. The rotation of the stomach can result in an obstruction of blood supply inside the stomach and the spleen.
Causes of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Dogs
The hypothesis is that the volvulus occurs before the dilation does though this is uncertain. Causes of the condition may be:
- Consistent gulping of air during activities
- Eating too rapidly
- Eating too much dry food or gas-producing food
- Not enough pancreatic enzymes
- Body type that is particularly lean
- Drinking a lot of water quickly
- Exercising before eating and after eating
- Laxity of gastric ligaments
Diagnosis of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Dogs
The veterinarian will complete blood work to assess the animal’s blood count. A urinalysis may be done to check the urine. Other tests such as blood electrolytes and serum chemistry will be done to determine the extent of the effects on your dog. With these tests, the veterinarian will be able to rule out specific conditions, which may imitate similar clinical symptoms of gastric dilatation. An x-ray will be done to confirm the diagnosis. An ECG could also be used to assess any inclining of cardiac arrhythmias, usually expected with this condition. The veterinarian may perform blood gas analysis to check for any serious complication or compromise to the respiratory system.
Treatment of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Dogs
Most dogs go into shock with the severe impact that this condition has on the whole body. The veterinarian will have to stabilize your dog before moving forward. To ensure stability, the veterinarian will give your pet IV fluids and oxygen. Decompressing the stomach will follow, whereby the veterinarian will put a tube into the stomach through the esophagus. This releases any accumulation of fluid and air inside the stomach. If necessary, a catheter or needle may be inserted to release excess air.
After decompressing the stomach, the veterinarian will perform surgery to return it to its normal condition. Gastropexy is the term used for the procedure that is done after the stomach has been righted. Attaching the stomach to the abdominal wall serves the purpose of preventing the event from occurring again. The organs in the abdomen will have to be assessed for damage and subsequently treated in an appropriate manner.
Recovery of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Dogs
In most cases, your pet may be hospitalized and intravenously fed fluids for a few days. Once released, you will be expected to restrict exercise for a few weeks until your pet has healed from surgery. Long term care would include the managing of your pet’s diet to smaller meals and continue to monitor for recurring clinical symptoms.
Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My dog had bloat they put a tube down his esophagus and the release of the gas his stomach untwisted itself this is day after and he wont use his back legs.he is eating but not wanting fluids I am using a medication syringe to give him water? I am worried about him not using his back legs
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My dog had GDV. Emergency surgery was successful & only minor bruising to stomach. All post surgery reports were excellent. She was alert, walking, and urinating, then while still in hospital, 36 hours after surgery & about 2 minutes after walking and urinating, she stopped breathing - she had blood clot in her lungs & died. She does have chronic kidney failure w/high creatinine and BUN for which she gets subcutaneous fluids 2 times weekly for about 3 years, including about 6 hours before the GDV episode. During surgery she developed edema which resolved before the blood clot. Surgeon said her kidneys looked very good. She also takes medications for kidney disease, pemphigus folliacious and anemia, and thyroid condition What likely happened ?
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