Gastric torsion, also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition in dogs.
Large, deep-chested breeds are especially susceptible. Some of the breeds at risk are Great Danes, Dobermans, Weimaraners, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters, and Saint Bernards. Any dog parent, however, should be aware of the symptoms.
Symptoms of gastric torsion come on fast and include:
- distended/swollen abdomen
- excessive drooling
- unproductive retching
- pain behavior
GDV needs immediate veterinary attention; hours and even minutes can mean the difference between life and death of your dog. Even with emergency surgery, many dogs don’t make it and no dog survives without fast veterinary intervention.
Further information: Signs and Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs
Jack is a 10-year-old purebred Giant Schnauzer. He is a large, active boy. The first time Jack became sick, he threw up his dinner. He also lost interest in food and became dull and quiet.
His mom took him to a vet. They kept Jack in for a day to monitor him but with a simple treatment, he bounced right back and could go home.
The veterinarian determined that something upset Jack’s stomach but it was nothing strange or scary. Jack was perfectly normal after that.
A few months later, Jack started feeling unwell again. There were no obvious red flags other than he became somewhat lethargic and lost interest in play. Then he didn’t finish his food once again, which was not like him at all.
When it was time for Jack’s fun outside, he decided to pass and return back inside instead. As he came in, he let out a belch his mom has never heard a dog make. Things only got worse from there.
Jack’s symptoms worsen
While Jack didn’t want to go on his walk, he wouldn’t settle down either. He started pacing around the room. When he tried to lie down, he looked uncomfortable and would get up and pace around again. He pas panting heavily. Jack was clearly highly uncomfortable. Jack’s mom recognized something was quite wrong and took Jack to the veterinarian.
At the veterinarian
The first concern Jack’s veterinarian had immediately, was gastric torsion. It’s a condition when the dog’s stomach expands with food, liquid and gas, which can make the stomach twist around trapping the contents from escaping while continuing to swell. At the same time the bloated stomach cuts of blood supply to the stomach itself and surrounding organs.
It is a dire, life-threatening emergency. Large, deep-chested breed dogs are especially at risk. A dog with stomach torsion can die within hours.
The diagnosis is confirmed with x-rays. Jack’s radiographs confirmed the veterinarian’s suspicion; Jack was suffering from GDV.
Jack was in big trouble. Even with aggressive treatment, many dogs don’t survive. Jack was off to emergency surgery.
It wasn’t until middle of that night when Jack’s mom got a call from the emergency hospital informing her that Jack’s surgery went well and Jack was recovering.
Jack was one of the dogs fortunate to make it through the ordeal. His mom’s quick action and prompt diagnosis and treatment saved his life.
Bloat: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus in Dogs