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What is Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus in Dogs? How to Keep Your Pup Safe

Gastric dilatation and volvulus or GDV is commonly known as dog bloat. The term ‘bloat’ doesn’t seem to be any serious medical condition for humans, but for dogs, it’s a deadly condition. And that’s exactly why you should know what GDV is and how to deal with it when a dog goes through an episode of dog bloat. 

Some dogs are more prone to GDV than others considering their age and breed. However, no dog should suffer from this deadly condition. We will also see what you can do to reduce the risk of GDV in dogs. Read on to know more about the condition.

What is Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus?

Dog bloat is swelling of the stomach due to the accumulation of excessive gas and liquid inside it. The term ‘volvulus’ is a Latin term for ‘twisting’. Meaning, the stomach twists itself anywhere between 0 degrees to 180 degrees.

When an episode of GDV occurs, the dog starts pacing. This happens because he is not able to pass the gas accumulated in the stomach. The dog may also seem to vomit but nothing comes out except foam. 

The dog feels excruciating pain inside his belly and sounds listless when gets tired from attempting to pass the gas. This is known as gastric dilatation where the stomach dilates. The condition can worsen if volvulus is included.

Due to excessive dilatation, the stomach can twist or even flip at 180 degrees. This adds more to the pain. According to Tiffany Morefield, DVM, Author & Veterinary Advisor at DogNeedsBest, “But what’s scarier is that it blocks the entry and the exit of the stomach. Meaning the fluid and food present in the stomach will stay there and keep on pressurizing the dilated stomach.” 

In addition to this, the dog’s blood-flow back to the heart gets restricted. If the dog doesn’t get immediate medical attention, he may go into shock as well.

In some cases, the pancreas and spleen also get displaced along with the volvulus of the stomach. Pancreas then releases some hormones, one of which is responsible for ceasing the heart cold. This all could happen in as much as 20 minutes explaining why each dog parent should know about the condition.

If you notice the early signs of bloat in dogs, you should rush to a vet immediately. Vets first try to restore the blood flow and treat shock. After that, an x-ray will be taken to decide whether it’s just dilation or also volvulus.

Once decided, the vet will restore the original position of the stomach and unblock the entry and exit. Preventive surgery for volvulus is also performed which tacks the stomach with the internal abdominal wall. However, you may discuss with your vet if preventive surgery is really needed.

What Dogs Are More Prone to Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus?

Fortunately, we have information on what dogs are more prone to GDV than other dogs. But that doesn’t mean a dog less prone to GDV has zero chances of getting bloat. It gets easier to start treatment when you have anticipated the condition. Also, the pet parents can take preventive measures accordingly.

Big dogs with narrow and deep chests are more susceptible to the condition. Here is the list of breeds.

  • Great Danes
  • Saint Bernards
  • Standard Poodles
  • Old English Sheepdogs
  • Akitas
  • Boxers
  • German Shepherds
  • Irish Wolfhounds
  • Irish Setters
  • Weimaraners
  • Golden Retrievers
  • Doberman Pinschers
  • Basset Hounds

Preventive Measures of Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus

Good habits and understanding nutrition will go a long way in keeping dog bloat away. Read on to know more.

Refine Your Dog’s Diet

If your dog’s diet includes only kibble, you should try to introduce canned food or freeze-dried raw food in their diet. Why? Dog kibbles are an unnatural type of food for dogs. Most kibbles are tailored to have the minimum amount of nutritional values conforming to AAFCO standards.

And some kibbles have cheap carbohydrate and starch fillers which is unhealthy for dogs. Nevertheless, carbs are quite important but industry-prepared kibbles are processed at high temperatures and thus are less wholesome than raw food.

It’s not feasible for all pet parents to switch to a 100% raw diet or homecooked meals. But if your budget allows you, you should try to get freeze-dried raw kibble or include more canned and raw food in their diet.

Keeping the diet more natural will help reduce the risk of bloat in a nutshell.

Bones Are Important Too

Dogs in the wild would catch the whole prey and try to eat it entirely including bones. Bones are good for a dog’s digestive health and prevent bloat naturally. However, you should feed raw uncooked bones. Anyway, it’s another article for another time. Choose the bones that are appropriate for your pooch.

Ensure Your Dog’s Not Living a Sedentary Life

Your dog has to get enough amount of physical activity depending on his breed, life stage, and age. Also, the timing of exercise is equally important. You may have heard your mom saying, “Don’t go swimming yet, you just had your meal.” 

The key here is no one should do heavy physical activity with a full stomach. The same is true for dogs. All in all, ensure your dog gets enough exercise and time it right!

Ditch Raised Feeders if Feasible

Contrary to the potential benefits of raised feeders in the case of dog bloat, elevated dog bowls are directly associated with GDV. Initially, the studies suggested feeders in favor of reducing the risk of bloat but later studies show the exact opposite. 

So, it’s wise to avoid using raised feeders until more research comes in. More importantly, you would never see a dog eating from above the ground and it’s unnatural anyway.

The EndNote

All pet parents should know about gastric dilatation and volvulus in dogs as it’s a deadly condition. I hope you now have a basic idea of what dog bloat is. In addition to the preventive measures we’ve discussed, ensure that your dog’s environment is generally stress-free. Stress too can contribute to the risk of GDV. 

If you have any questions or want to share your experience with us, please let us know in the comment section below.

Author Bio

Tiffany Morefield, DVM

Author & Veterinary Advisor

When things come crashing down, Tiffany comes to the rescue! As a veterinary medicine graduate, she is the brain behind the in-depth analysis of the products. As an avid dog lover, she is earnestly driven to find the finest options. Any article on DogNeedsBest that has to do anything with your pet’s health goes under scrutiny before getting published.

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