Over the weekend I was called in for an emergency surgery to help a dog suffering from Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) or more commonly called dog bloat. She was a 12-year-old Boxer presented with a sudden onset of non-productive retching with a distended and painful abdomen. This is a surgical disease that occurs primarily in large breed, deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes, Standard Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, Boxers, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds.

For an unknown reason the stomach fills with air and rotates, restricting blood flow to and from the abdomen. This lack of blood flow can quickly lead to shock resulting in tissue death of not only abdominal organs but the heart as well. When blood flow is restricted to the heart it cannot pump as effectively and the heart muscle begins to die resulting in cardiac arrhythmias. We quickly took abdominal x-rays which confirmed the presence of GDV and started her on intravenous fluids to help prepare for surgery.

Dog bloat stomach

GDV or Dog Bloat is the result of the stomach filling with air and rotating as depicted above

She needed to be taken to surgery immediately before the restriction of blood flow caused any permanent damage to the abdominal organs. Often the stomach tissue will start to die which may require resection of the affected tissue. In addition, the spleen is closely attached to the stomach and will also rotate often necessitating removal.

When I opened her abdomen the stomach was severely distended and torsed but luckily the stomach tissue appeared healthy. I quickly reached in and flipped the stomach back into is appropriate position. While the spleen was enlarged and an angry purple color within a few minutes of repositioning the stomach, it returned to a normal size and color. The remainder of her abdominal organs were healthy in appearance.

Dog bloat x-ray

X-ray from a dog suffering with Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

After correcting the positing of the stomach and emptying it of all the trapped gas and fluid I performed a gastropexy. This procedure attaches the stomach to the body wall within the abdomen. This physically prevents the stomach from torsing so that she will not develop another GDV. After surgery she was started on a constant rate infusion of pain medication and was hooked up to an ECG so we could monitor her for any arrhythmias. She is doing well and set to be discharged from the hospital tomorrow.

The gastropexy procedure is often done prophylactically at the time of spay or neuter in at-risk breeds to prevent dog bloat from ever occurring. She was very lucky that her owners acted so quickly, as the disease can progress rapidly and is often fatal. Anyone with a large breed dog should be aware of this condition and the clinical signs to watch out for which include non-productive retching and abdominal distension. These signs can also be accompanied by hyper-salivation, restlessness, inability to stand and lethargy.

GDV or dog bloat is one of the few true surgical emergencies and getting treatment for your dog as quickly as possible is essential. I strongly recommend the prophylactic gastropexy at time of spay or neuter in any breed that is at risk. Dogs greater than sixty pounds have a 23% lifetime risk of GDV. That is a staggering statistic but luckily we have a way to prevent this potentially devastating disease.

Ashley Gallagher, DVM

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmailFacebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedinmail
Tagged on:                     

Related Posts

Pet nutrition – What’s the deal with corn? Corn is a nutritional powerhouse! Corn, it has somehow become the enemy of pet food and pet nutrition. I’m not quite sure where it started but now...
How To Identify a Stressed Dog and De-Stress Him This week we have a guest post from Rohit Agarwal.  There's no denying the old saying: dogs are man's best friend. Dogs are delightfully cheerful, ...
Ashley Goes Pet Myth Busting – Part 1 – What is ... You should check the ingredients in your pet food and only use food companies that meet the strictest guidelines. The Internet is amazing! I certa...
Pet Examinations – Health check-ups for cats and dogs Do you regularly visit your healthcare provider when you’re not sick or hurt? Like many people, the answer is probably “No”. So how about your pets? D...
How pets improve mental health We often hear about the physical health benefits of having a pet but as important is how pets improve mental health. There is a lot of press lately on...
A healthy pet diet is key and be sure to count calories It's common sense that we should be feeding our cats and dogs a healthy pet diet but we're not as conscious about the number of calories our cats and ...
National Puppy Day – Remember, Adopt… Don’... Did you know that March 23rd is National Puppy Day? According to Colleen Paige, the founder of National Puppy Day, March 23rd is “a special day to cel...