Do you own a Great Dane, German Shepherd, Weimaraner or similar breed dog? These breeds are susceptible to a life threatening condition called Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV for short).
GDV is an acute severe medical and surgical condition characterised by gastric distension; malpositioning of the stomach; increased gastric pressure; vascular compromise and circulatory shock. All very complicated words for an absolute emergency, as a twisted stomach prevents the escape of the contents (gas or fluid) trapped inside!
No single cause of GDV exists; rather multifactorial causes are more than likely involved. Reported risk factors include first degree relatives that have a history of GDV; deep chest breeds; lean body condition; advancing age; eating quickly; eating from a raised food bowl; eating only dry food and/or a single meal daily and a fearful or nervous temperament (those ‘type A’ personalities). Large and giant breed dogs are most at risk.
Some signs to look out for that may indicate a GDV include; restlessness, abdominal distension (significant ‘pot bellied’ appearance), anorexia, retching, salivating, collapse, pale gums, weakness, difficulty breathing and unfortunately sudden death. A trip to your Vet is immediately warranted, as a dog with a GDV will not survive. Your personal vet may order abdominal radiographs for diagnosis, blood work and perform life saving stabilisation of your pet.
Whilst GDV is easy to diagnose, treatment often involves decompression and de-rotating surgery, which can be expensive and is not always successful.
As with most things prevention is better and much less expensive than cure. Prevention can be as easy as a few lifestyle modifications, or alternatively the option of a prophylactic gastropexy at the time of de-sexing to safeguard your pet against GDV.
What is a gastropexy? It is the creation of a permanent adhesion between the stomach and the abdominal wall. This method is highly effective in preventing the stomach from twisting and will significantly reduce the incidence of GDV from approximately 25% down to 1% in large and giant breed dogs. When done by keyhole surgery, this procedure utilises very small incisions and causes minimal pain. It is a low risk procedure with minimal complications. Keyhole surgery can also be performed as a stand alone procedure if your pet is already de-sexed.
Lifestyle adjustments include feeding 2-3 smaller meals per day rather than one big meal, providing a feeding bowl that slows the pace of food consumption and allowing 1-2 hours of rest after a meal and before exercise.
If you wanted to discuss prophylactic gastropexy, get in touch with your local Vet.