Gastric dilatation-volvulus occurs in large breed dogs with deep chests; such as bloodhounds, dobermans, German shepherds and Irish wolfhounds. It comes on suddenly with symptoms appearing after a dog consumes its dinner. The dog will exhibit a rapid heartbreak, panting, lethargy, dry heaving, excessive salivation and a tender, distended abdomen. The condition requires immediate medical care or the dog may perish. Unfortunately, few pet owners are ready to to make the the heart breaking decision of an expensive surgery that may not be successful for their pet or a having it humanly euthanized.
The condition occurs when the dog’s stomach becomes distended and twists. Once the stomach twists, access to the esophagus is effectively cut off which is why the dog will exhibit dry heaves an inability to vomit its stomach contents up. The twisted stomach will often wrap itself around the dog’s spleen and strangle it during the process. The stomach gasses continue to build up and expand the stomach further. Toxic levels within the stomach build and the stomach may burst under the pressure. The heart begins to beat erratically due to the blood flow impairment and the added strain on the dog’s system.
A veterinarian will try to deflate the stomach and relieve the pressure by passing a tube into the stomach but in some cases this is not successful and extensive surgery will be required. If the surgery is not performed the dog will ultimately die a painful death.
Even with successful treatment the dog will require with weeks of aftercare and hospitalization. An owner will be faced with thousands of dollars worth of medical treatment expenses. Few owners are financially ready for such an expensive surgery and a vast majority will elect to humanely euthanizes the dog.
Dog’s that have suffered GDV are more susceptible to the even occurring again so great care must be taken to avoid the situation.
Owners of a dog breed that is susceptible to GDV should feed their dog small meals several times a day. Avoid letting the dog gulp its food. The dog should never be overfed. Many owners purchase elevated feed bowls in an effort to prevent the dog from laying down while eating or right after consuming a large quantity of food because the pressure of laying down can often cause the stomach to flip inside the dog.Keep the dog from excessive exercise after a large meal which can also cause the full stomach to inadvertently flip inside the dog.
Owners of a dog that has suffered from GDV or who has shown a strong genetic propensity for the disorder should seriously consider having gastroplexy, or anchoring surgery performed on the dog’s stomach to prevent GDV from occurring.