(Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus)
What is bloat?
Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) is also known as "bloat," "stomach torsion," or "twisted stomach. GDV is an extremely serious condition, and should be considered a life-threatening emergency when it occurs. Dogs can die of bloat within several hours. Even with treatment, as many as 25-33% of dogs with GDV die.
The gastric dilatation is one part of the condition and the volvulus or torsion is the second part. In bloat, due to a number of different and sometimes unknown reasons, the stomach fills up with air and puts pressure on the other organs and diaphragm. This makes it difficult for the dog to breathe, and compresses large veins in the abdomen, thus preventing blood from returning to the heart. Filled with air, the stomach can easily rotate on itself, thus pinching off the blood supply. Once this rotation (volvulus) occurs and the blood supply is cut off, the stomach begins to die and the entire blood supply is disrupted and the animal's condition begins to deteriorate very rapidly. Not all dogs that have a gas buildup and resultant dilatation develop the more serious and life threatening volvulus. However, almost all dogs that have a volvulus develop it as a result of a dilatation. GDV is a very serious and life threatening condition. Understanding the signs, prevention, and need for prompt treatment will help reduce the risk of mortality if your dog develops this problem.
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Dog Care Questions
Holly Nash, DVM, MS
Veterinary Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith, Inc.
What dogs are more susceptible?
There is a definite link between the likelihood of occurrence of GDV and the breed and build of the dog. GDV is much more likely to occur in large breeds with deep, narrow chests. The problem can occur in small dogs, but only rarely. The University of Purdue recently conducted a study of hundreds of dogs that had developed GDV, and they calculated a ratio of likelihood of a particular breed developing the problem as compared to a mixed breed dog. For example, using the GDV risk ratio, a Great Dane is 41.4 times more likely to develop GDV than a mixed breed dog.
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German Shorthaired Pointer
In addition to breed predilection, there appears to be a genetic link to this disease. The incidence is closely correlated to the depth and width of the dog's chest. Several different genes from the parents determine these traits. If both parents have particularly deep and narrow chests, then it is highly likely that their offspring will have deep and narrow chests and the resulting problems that may go with it. This is why in particular breeds we see a higher incidence in certain lines, most likely because of that line's particular chest conformation.
Dogs over 7 years of age are more than twice as likely to develop gastric dilatation and volvulus as those who are 2-4 years of age.
Male dogs are twice as likely to develop gastric dilatation and volvulus as females. Neutering does not appear to have an effect on the risk of GDV.
Dogs fed once a day are twice as likely to develop GDV as those fed twice a day. It appears that dogs that eat rapidly or exercise soon after a meal may also be at increased risk.
Dogs that tend to be more nervous, anxious, or fearful appear to be at an increased risk of developing GDV. Continue reading...