Stomach Bloat (GDV) in Dogs: Symptoms and Diagnosis

What is It?

Gastric dilatation-volvulus is a medical emergency when the stomach swells and flips inside the torso.

What Causes It?

GVD occurs in large chested dogs when the stomach overfills with food or water. The stomach begins to swell and twists upside-down. The spleen and pancreas also get moved in this condition. The stomach cannot move anything through in either direction. Circulation is completely blocked from the hindquarters to the heart.

Dogs that are given one large meal a day versus two smaller meals are significantly more likely to experience bloat.

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What Are The Symptoms?

  • Enlarged abdomen
  • Retching
  • Salivation
  • Restlessness
  • Pain
  • Whining

Is it Life Threatening?

Yes. It cuts off circulation and can be fatal. Only about 70% of dogs survive this event and only if they receive immediate medical intervention within an hour of the event.

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How is It Diagnosed?

You must get your dog to the vet immediately. Many dogs do not survive even an hour after symptom onset. A medical history questionnaire, physical exam and an x-ray will definitely diagnose bloat.

What Are The Treatments?

Surgery is the only option. The stomach and other organs need to be returned to their proper places. Depending on the specific condition the spleen may need to be removed if damaged. Even in the best-case situation 15-20% of dogs do not survive the surgery.

Prevention is the best method of treatment. Consider feeding your dog over two meals in place of one. Also consider purchasing slow feeder bowls to help your dog control the speed of consumption.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pup’s condition, please make an appointment with your veterinarian. Or, consult a virtual vet here.