Canine GDV (Gastric Dilation Volvulus) commonly known as BLOAT: A serious and life threatening condition!

What is GDV?

GDV is a condition where gas & food expand in the stomach and eventually the stomach twists upon itself.  The entrance and exit of the stomach become occluded and pressure is applied on the blood vessels and circulation is seriously compromised. Vital tissues are deprived of blood & oxygen causing tissue death. If left untreated the stomach wall can rupture. Systemic shock occurs early on, with death following in a matter of hours (or less).

What are common signs of GDV onset?

  • Swollen abdomen
  • Unproductive retching/heaving
  • Initial restlessness, followed by extreme lethargy
  • Excess salivation
  • Heavy panting
  • Pale gums

Possible causes of GDV?

Although there has been much discussion & debate on possible causes, the following are widely agreed upon:

  • Large and giant breeds, with deep chests are more susceptible*
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Gulping food
  • High activity following meals
  • Drinking large amounts of water after meals
  • Eating only once a day
  • Stress or anxiety
  • Males are more likely to get GDV, than females
  • Older dogs are at greater risk than younger dogs
  • Diet high in grains and fermentable carbohydrates


How can you decrease chance of your dog getting GDV?

Prophylactic Gastropexy, an elective surgery that involves tacking the stomach to the body wall is the most effective means of prevention. If a dog is lucky enough to recover from GDV, but does not get the surgery, there is a 75% chance of relapse!

In high risk breeds, some veterinarians even recommend preventative gastropexy! That is how serious this condition is.

Aside from surgery, you should avoid strenuous exercise after eating and drinking.  Use special anti-gulp food bowls that help encourage slower eating. Feed frequent small portions, rather than infrequent larger portions. Limit amount of water consumption directly after meals.

Most importantly, know your dog and watch for signs that indicate he is not himself.

What you should do if you suspect your dog is suffering from GDV.

The ONLY possible defense for this horrible condition is early detection and emergency veterinary intervention.  Make sure to have your veterinarian and your local animal emergency clinic phone numbers handy at all times. Even with early detection, this horrific condition has a poor to grave prognosis, with a 30% mortality rate.



Breed GDV Risk Ratio Risk Rank
Great Dane41.41
Saint Bernard21.82
Irish Setter14.24
Gordon Setter12.35
Standard Poodle8.86
Basset Hound5.97
Doberman Pinscher5.58
Old English Sheepdog4.89
German Shorthaired Pointer4.610
German Shepherd4.212
Airedale Terrier4.113
Alaskan Malamute4.114
Chesapeake Bay Retriever3.715
Labrador Retriever218
English Springer Spaniel219
Golden Retriever1.222




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