Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus Syndrome (GDV)

Bloat, occur in dogs when the stomach dilates and twists into an abnormal position, causing non-productive retching, a bloated abdomen, and other symptoms.  Bloat is a very serious health risk for many dogs, yet many dog owners know very little about it.  Some report has it that bloat is the second leading killer of dogs, after cancer.  Without prompt medical attention, dogs with bloat can die very quickly.
In Gastric Dilatation, the stomach dilates and maintains its normal position. This can occur in any dog, and can be seen in young puppies that overeat.
In Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, the stomach twists (torsion), closing off the openings leading in from the oesophagus and out to the intestines. This prevents the dog from vomiting or belching which could otherwise help relieve the problem. If the stomach twists enough, the spleen and major blood vessels in the area twist as well leading to further complications.


  • Eating a single, large meal
  • Drinking large amounts of water immediately after eating.
  • Eating from a raised feeding bowl.
  • Gulping down food very quickly.
  • Exercising vigorously on a full stomach.
  • Stress.
  • Aging
  • Inherited

DOGS MOSTLY AFFECTED:Bloat can occur in any dog, but large deep-chested breeds are commonly affected. Examples include:

  • German Shepherd
  • Irish Setter
  • Boxer
  • Labrador Retriever
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • Wolfhound
  • Golden Retriever

The symptoms of acute GDV are:

  • Non-productive retching.
  • Pacing
  • Distended or bloated abdomen,
  • Excess salivation.
  • Abdominal pain
  • Depression
  • Restlessness
  • Weakness, unable to stand or has a spread-legged stance.
  • Shock
  • Collapse.
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid breathing and panting.
  • Weak pulse

Bloat is a serious medical emergency, and obvious clinical signs, x-rays, ECG and blood tests will help your veterinarian arrive at a fast diagnosis. Treatment should begin as soon as possible. The sooner the dog is treated, the greater its chance of survival. Your veterinarian will do the following.

  • Intravenous corticosteroids to treat shock
  • Intravenous antibiotics to protect against gastrointestinal infection.
  • Medications to prevent gastric ulceration, a potential postoperative complication.
  • Medical Decompression: In cases of simple dilatation, the dog is sedated and a tube is passed through its mouth and into its stomach to remove built-up gas and fluid. After the build-up is removed, warm-water stomach lavage is performed to wash out accumulated food and gastric juices.
  • Surgery to correct the twisting (twisting) and move the stomach to its normal position


  • Feeding small portions throughout the day.
  • Waiting 1 to 2 hours after eating before exercising.
  • Not breeding dogs with a family history of GDV
  • Gastropexy: Surgically "stapling" the dog's stomach to the inner abdominal wall to prevent twisting.
  • When switching dog food, do so gradually (at least over a 5 - 7 day period)
  • Feed a high-quality diet.
  • Feed adequate amount of fibre (for commercial dog food, at least 2.5% crude fibre)

If you believe your dog is experiencing bloat, please get your dog to a veterinarian immediately!  Bloat can kill in less than an hour, so time is of the essence.   Call your vet to alert them you're on your way with a suspected bloat case.  Better to be safe than sorry!