GDV – Some Frightening Facts

      5 Comments on GDV – Some Frightening Facts
GDV – Some Frightening Facts

In July 2009 I posted the story of my Rottweiler, Kara, then aged 14, and her brush with death earlier that year when she suffered from GDVGastric Dilitation Volvulus.  Read that story hereGDV

A large number of pet owners (probably a large majority, actually) have no idea about this life threatening condition.

And sadly, by the time some pet owners learn about it, it is too late, and they have lost their dog to GDV.

So what causes GDV, and what is this condition exactly?

So what are the risk factors for GDV?

What should you do if you see symptoms in your dog suggestive of GDV?

What exactly is GDV, and what causes it?

Gastric Dilitation and Volvulus basically means stomach dilation (also often called “Bloat”), and a twisting of the stomach – this twisting causes the ends of the stomach to be closed off from the openings leading in from the esophagus and out to the intestines.

Gastric Dilitation on its own is not a serious condition, but it is the Volvulus – the twisting that makes this condition life threatening.

If the stomach twists far enough, the spleen and major blood vessels in the area twist as well. It is the twisted blood vessels that cause a loss of blood flow (ischemia) to the stomach and other abdominal organs which can cause considerable tissue damage, and ultimately necrosis (tissue death).GDV

If the blood flow is simply allowed to return, the damaged cellular material from the traumatized tissues is released into the blood and can be harmful to other organs, which can be a cause of death during or immediately following surgery. When the blood supply in the abdomen’s major arteries is cut off, blood flow to the heart and cardiac output decrease, leading to low blood pressure.  This can also be a cause of death during or after surgery.

Risk Factors:

Large chested dogs are more prone to GDV than smaller dogs.  In particular, if you have a German Shepherd or Great Dane, or any large breed of dog, you should be more concerned about the condition than if you have a small dog (although they are not immune from suffering GDV).

Feeding once per day.

Drinking a large amount of water after eating.

Exercising after eating.

Rolling on back after eating.

What should you do if you see symptoms in your dog suggestive of GDV?

If your dog has any of the following symptoms (and particularly if there are several of these symptoms in combination:

– Retching (unproductive vomiting)

– Disorientation

– Abdomen feels hard

– Abdomen looks swollen GDV

– Excessive panting

– Unexplained lethargy

– Restlessness

– Excessive salivation

– Pale gums

call your vet immediately.  Do not delay for a moment.  Every minute can count.  Dogs who suffer this condition can die in hours, sometimes less.  And by the time you notice any symptoms, the condition can be well advanced.

If your veterinary surgery is closed, call the emergency vet, or take your dog to the emergency pet hospital in your area, but do not do nothing.

This is an emergency.  In fact, many veterinary commentators refer to it as the mother of all emergencies.

Important Notes:

Please note that this is not to be construed as medical advice whatsoever.  It is an account of my personal experience with a dog with GDV, and a summary of the information I have subsequently learned about the condition.

While I often advocate making informed decisions after conferring with your vet, but not necessarily following every piece of advice your vet gives you unquestioningly, in this particular instance, it is life threatening for your dog to do anything but take your dog to your vet immediately.

Do NOT delay – I just can’t stress that enough.  I so nearly lost my beautiful Kara, simply because I thought she was affected by the heat that day, and nothing more, when it was oh, so much more serious than that.

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5 thoughts on “GDV – Some Frightening Facts

  1. Julia Godden

    My 12 yr black Labador is just recovering from GDV trauma that he had on Sunday.

    He and my other 2 dogs were eating a doggy bone. We were supervising all the time, however he did eat his rather quicker than the others.

    About 5 minutes after eating it he was walking round the garden making an awful sound, like a cow mooing, and trying to be sick. My husband followed him around and said, somethings not right, his stomach was all bloated like he was pregnant, on one side. we called the out of hours vet and explained we were bringing him in.
    Luckily we were at the vets within 40 minutes of noticing and I think that saved his life.

    As an owner I was alway aware for the need to have quiet time before and after feeds, but boy I have now learnt so much more from the web.

    My eternal thanks go out to the Staff and Students of Saint George’s University Vetinary Teaching Hospital in Grenada W.I

    I hope Kara’s still doing ok.

  2. Brigitte Smith

    Hi Julia,

    Wow, that really came on fast. The vet told me it can sometimes develop within fifteen minutes, but 5 minutes is really extreme.

    I recall that “mooing” sound as well, now that you mention it. I had forgotten that. It was part of the retching sound when she was trying to be sick.

    What advice were you given about feeding bones in the future? I’m interested to know, as I was advised not to ever do that by the specialist (although one of the vets involved in her care thought it should have been okay). I’m not taking the risk in view of that, and now have to feed my dogs completely separately as my other dog still has raw bones.

    Hope your dog continues to improve.


  3. Christine Collins

    Hi Brigitte,

    We were in the german shepherd club for 5 years and we were always warned about bloat over that time bloat had sadly taken the life of some members dogs. Some breeders were beginning to talk about could it be hereditry as the dogs affected came from the same blood lines,it is strange because in the natural dog world they always play after eating sometimes quite vigorously maybe we have fine tuned these beatiful animals with breeding and this could be where the flaw lies.We now have two german shepherds and never feed them bones as we have listened to to many stories of all types of bones causing death or extreme injuries internally!!
    We lost our beloved Tara at 4 years old to a fungal disease called aspergillosis that was eating her spine as the specialist said it is a very aggresive and nasty disease. Our shepherds are 14 months and are half brother and sister their names are Tasha and Jay.
    Kind Regards

  4. Laura Johnston

    I woke up this morning to find my dalmation dead with a huge swollen stomach. He seemed fine the night before, ate his dinner and was fine before we went to bed. The vet who we rang said it is most probably GDV. He is a very big dalmation and eats his food so quickly. It was such a shock considering we havent heard of this condition before.
    It looked like there was a baloon inside his stomoach. Poor jasper

  5. Roger

    My 11 year old standard male poodle developed GDV while we were out for the evening. When we arrived home, he did not come to greet us, and I knew that something was dreadfully wrong. Then, he began to retch unproductively, and I felt his stomach which was hard as concrete. Fortunately, I resisted my wife’s wish to “wait until morning” to attend to this insidious killer. Samson went to the OR by 5:00 a.m., and did very well during and after surgery. We thank our lucky stars for being well forewarned about this nasty life threatener. Roger New York, NY

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