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Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat) in Dogs

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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What to Watch For

  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal distension
  • Abdominal pain
  • Vomiting leading to nonproductive retching
  • Collapse

    GDV is life-threatening. See your veterinarian immediately if you suspect bloat or GDV.

    Diagnosis

    The diagnosis can usually be made based on the history and physical examination.

  • Physical examination should include abdominal palpation and auscultation of heart and lungs.

  • After your dog has been stabilized and initial treatment begun, radiographs may be taken. A lateral abdominal view in right lateral recumbency with dog lying on the right side, is the view of choice for differentiation of simple dilatation from dilatation-volvulus.

  • After initial stabilization and treatment, a complete blood count and blood biochemical tests may be performed. Blood tests help to define concurrent abnormalities that may influence the choice of anesthesia.

    Treatment

  • Initial treatment of GDV will include emergency treatment for shock with intravenous fluids, drug therapy, and decompression of the stomach.

  • Surgery is the recommended treatment to untwist and stabilize the stomach. To prevent recurrence, the stomach must be attached to the abdominal wall, known as gastropexy. If the spleen is badly damaged, it may need to be removed (splenectomy).

    Home Care and Prevention

    If you observe signs of GDV at home, see your veterinarian immediately. There is no recommended home therapy for GDV. Remember that giant-breed and deep-chested dogs are at increased risk.

    Feed small frequent meals and limit water intake for one hour after eating, and avoid large volumes of water intake. Limit exercise after eating. Do not feed from elevated feeding bowls. Avoid stress.

    For dogs that are at high risk for GDV, a prophylactic gastropexy is often performed.

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