Gastric Torsion, also commonly referred to as “Bloat” is a serious emergent medical condition in which the stomach becomes overstretched by excessive gas content. The stomach can twist, and blood supply is cut off.
Deep chested larger-breed dogs are mainly the dogs that are affected. A dog with GDV will have a very obvious bloated abdomen, drool, seem extremely uncomfortable, anxious, panting and may be vomiting and retching (trying to vomit). It most often occurs in a dog that has eaten and/or drank and exercised right after.
The only treatment for GDV is immediate surgical correction of the stomach torsion. X-Rays must be performed to properly diagnose this emergency.
For surgical repair, gas must first be released from the stomach either by inserting a gastric tube down the esophagus into the stomach, or (usually) by a needle puncture in the abdominal wall into the stomach. At the same time, a rapid rate of intravenous fluids must be given because of the shock and pain levels associated with this condition. Once dangerous gasses and their associated pressures are relieved, surgery will begin.
For the surgical repair, the dog must be under general anesthetic and a doctor will physically un-twist the stomach. Usually the doctor will surgically suture the stomach to the abdominal wall, so gastric twisting is much more difficultly achieved. Sometimes, over-stretching of the stomach due to gas causes death of that tissue, and removal of stomach sections may be necessary. The spleen must also be checked; to make sure it hasn’t twisted or is damaged as well. The spleen is a sensitive organ, and if severely damaged, will have to be removed as well.
Following surgery, it is recommended that veterinarian staff closely monitor the dog on I.V. fluids for the next day or two. Dogs are sent home on a Gastro formula (an easily digestible wet food) and told to feed that for usually a ten-day course. Depending on surgical approach, (if part of the stomach is removed due to death of the tissue or the spleen was removed, etc.) surgical aftercare will differ for each patient.
If the dog is brought in to a veterinarian facility as soon as symptoms start and surgery is performed, prognosis is good. Although, complications arise the longer you wait for the dog to be seen by a veterinarian.
Tips for Prevention
- Never exercise your dog after he/she eats, wait at least 2-3 hours.
- Do not allow your dog to drink large amounts of water directly after or one hour before exercising or feeding kibble.
- Feed 2 or more smaller meals a day
- Inclusion of canned dog food in diet.