Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus (GDV): What Did The Latest Study Reveal?

Gastric dila-what?

Ok, you’re probably more familiar with the term bloat. And if you don’t know that one either, and own a large, deep-chested breed, you better do your homework quick.

Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus (GDV): Causes?

Gastric dilatation and volvulus is as deadly as cancer, except it kills way faster. So What is it?

gastric [gas-tric]; from Greek gaster – stomach
(btw. the word stomach itself comes from Latin stomachus, which is derived from the Greek word stomachos)

dilate [dahy-leyt]; from Latin dīlātāre – expand, stretch beyond normal dimensions

volvulus [vol-vyuh-luhs]; from Latin volvere – turn, twist

In other words, this is a two-fold problem.

The dilation bit means that excessive fluid or gas cause the stomach to expand/distend  (way) beyond its normal size. This is very painful but it is not the worst of the problem.

The real trouble comes when the distended stomach flips around, which is also referred to as torsion. Now all exits are blocked and everything becomes trapped while the stomach continues to expand. On top of that,  blood circulation to the stomach also becomes impaired, which leads a whole other set of problems …

Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus (GDV)
Image Purina Care

This paints a picture that is as horrifying as it is painful and deadly. 

The only way out of this mess is an immediate surgery, which may or may not save your dog’s life. GDV is a number two killer right after cancer.

That’s why understanding the risk factors and prevention are extremely important.

How can we prevent this from happening to our dogs? And there lies another problem. There are only a few risk factors that are well understood.

The School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania conducted an internet-based, cross-sectional study in the attempt to shed some light on the matter. The study included 2,551 privately owned dogs.

Unfortunately, the study didn’t bring much-needed clarity at all.

Here are the factors significantly associated with an increased risk of GDV from the study results:

  • being fed dry kibble
  • anxiety
  • residence in the United Kingdom
  • being born in the 1990s
  • being a family pet, and spending at least 5 hours a day with the owner

Factors associated with a decreased risk of GDV were:

  • playing with other dogs and running the fence after meals
  • fish and egg dietary supplements
  • and spending equal time indoors and outdoors.

Now, wrap your brain around that.

One interesting bit is that sexually intact females have the highest risk for GDV.

So what do we do to prevent GDV in our guys? Apart from feeding multiple smaller meals, pray, mostly …

Something I might consider in the future would be preventative gastropexy. It’s a procedure that can be done while a dog is in for a spay or neuter, and it involves surgically securing the stomach to the abdominal wall. Then, even if it does dilate, it’s not going anywhere.

Categories: BloatConditionsDiagnosesDog health advocacyGastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat):Prevention

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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