Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is defined as enlargement of the stomach with subsequent clock-wise rotation along its axis causing entrapment of food and air. The exact cause is unknown but is usually related to rapid consumption of large volumes of food or water sometimes followed with exercise. GDV is characterized by retching, abdominal discomfort, and excessive salivation and requires immediate medical attention to stabilize the patient and decompress the stomach. GDV is potentially life-threatening with a mortality rate ranging between 10-25% and essentially fatal if left untreated.
While GDV can occur in any breed, there is an increased incidence in large to giant deep-chested dogs. It is estimated that the risk of disease in these breeds is about 6%; however certain breeds including the Great Dane have a lifetime incidence of over 40%.
Breeds most commonly documented to be at increased risk for GDV include:
- Great Dane
- Saint Bernard
- Gordon Setter
- Irish Setter
- Doberman Pinscher
- Standard Poodle
- Old English Sheepdog
- German Shepherd
- Bassett Hound
- Great Pyranese
Due to these high numbers, it is worthwhile to consider preventative tacking of the stomach. This surgery is known as prophylactic gastropexy and involves adhering the outside surface of the stomach to the right side of the abdominal wall. This procedure does not prevent the stomach from bloating but will significantly reduce the risk of the stomach twisting, leading to this life-threatening condition.
Prophylactic gastropexy is recommended in conjunction with other routine surgeries (such as spays and neuters) while the animal is otherwise healthy and stable for anesthetic procedures.
Please call us to discuss whether or not your dog would benefit from this procedure. Additional information can be found at the Veterinary Partners Web site.