Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) Explained

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV), also commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, is a serious and life-threatening condition that affects dogs. It is considered an emergency, as dogs with bloat can die in a matter of hours - Pet Education explains that around 25-33% of dogs who get bloat die as a result. This is one of the reasons that you should always have a 24/7 vet or emergency vet available, as GDV can strike at any time. This article explains some of the specifics of the condition, such as what GDV is and what can be done about it. 

What is Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)?

As the Kennel Club describes, GDV is a condition which occurs when a dog's stomach fills with gas, which makes the stomach twist. The cause of the condition is not always clear, sometimes appearing to be related to anxiety, and sometimes to diet. It occurs most commonly in large dogs with deep, narrow chests, such as Great Danes. It is also more common in older dogs, and in dogs who eat only once a day rather than twice. It is a dangerous condition, which inevitably leads to death if not promptly treated, as the stomach presses on the heart and lungs and leads to trouble breathing.

What are the symptoms of Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)?

Vets Now explain some of the early symptoms that you might observe in your dog, including anxiety, abdominal pain and bloating, and excessive drooling. There may then be vomiting and eventual collapse, along with a fast heart rate and laboured breathing. If you observe any of these symptoms, take your dog to a vet immediately for a further examination.

What treatment is available for Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV)?

Despite the danger associated with this condition, there is a lot that vets can do to help. The first step is to stabilise the heart rate, which will be raised by the condition. The next step, as described by PetMD, is to decompress the stomach, usually with a tube in the mouth leading down to the stomach. The vet will then decide if they need to perform surgery in order to return the internal organs to their proper position.

Although GDV is a very serious condition, knowing the signs and acting fast will massively increase your dog's chances of survival. You should also make sure that you have a 24/7 vet so that if your dog does develop symptoms, they can be treated immediately.