You probably know Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) better by its common name: bloat. It’s a life-threatening emergency resulting from excess gas in the stomach, which causes it to twist upon itself. Extra-large dogs over 99 pounds have an approximate 20% risk of developing bloat in their lifetimes and the risk increases with age. That said, the condition can occur in smaller dogs as well.
If you have a high-risk dog, it’s important to know the symptoms of bloat, because they can be subtle. They include:
- A hard, distended, or “double bubble” stomach
- Signs of pain including panting, guarding the belly, anguished/worried facial expression
- Unproductive vomiting or heaving
It’s important to note that some dogs will not have the classic distended stomach so it’s best to be cautious and get your pet to the vet right away if there are other symptoms.
You can also decrease the chances of your dog getting bloat by making sure they avoid rough play right after eating, using a slow feeder, giving smaller meals more often and avoiding elevated bowls.
For some high-risk dogs, we do recommend a procedure called gastropexy. This surgical procedure involves surgically attaching the stomach to the wall of the dog’s body, preventing the “twisting” part of GDV. Often when bloat occurs it takes a while for owners to realize their pet is in distress, and this condition becomes fatal very quickly.
So does your big dog really need that? The first step is to determine your dog’s risk of GDV.
If he or she is young, gastropexy can possibly be done in conjunction with a spay/neuter, saving your pet the stress of a second surgery.