Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), commonly known as bloat or twisted stomach, is a critical and potentially fatal condition that can affect dogs of all breeds, especially large and deep-chested breeds. GDV occurs when the stomach fills with gas, causing it to dilate, and subsequently, twists or rotates on its axis. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in dogs, including its causes, symptoms, treatment, and preventive measures to help dog owners recognize and address this life-threatening condition promptly.

1. What is Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)?

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a medical emergency that occurs when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, fluid, or food, leading to bloating and subsequent twisting or rotating on its axis. The twisting of the stomach traps the gas and prevents it from escaping, causing the stomach to expand rapidly. This can result in a myriad of serious complications, including restricted blood flow to vital organs, shock, and potential rupture of the stomach wall.

2. Causes of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

The exact cause of GDV is not entirely understood, but several factors contribute to its development. Some of the common causes and risk factors include:

  • Large, Deep-Chested Breeds: Large and giant breeds, such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Saint Bernards, are more susceptible to GDV due to their deep-chested anatomy.
  • Eating Habits: Rapid eating, gulping down large amounts of food or water, and exercising immediately after meals can increase the risk of GDV.
  • Genetics: Some dogs may have a genetic predisposition to GDV.
  • Stress and Anxiety: Stressful events or situations can also play a role in the development of GDV.

3. Symptoms of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

Recognizing the symptoms of GDV is crucial, as the condition progresses rapidly and requires immediate veterinary attention. Common signs of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in dogs include:

  • Unsuccessful Attempts to Vomit: The dog may attempt to vomit but be unsuccessful, or only bring up foamy or frothy material.
  • Abdominal Distention: The dog’s abdomen may appear swollen and distended.
  • Restlessness and Discomfort: Dogs with GDV may display signs of restlessness, pacing, or continuously changing positions.
  • Rapid Breathing and Increased Heart Rate: The dog may exhibit rapid or labored breathing and an elevated heart rate.
  • Salivating Excessively: Excessive drooling or salivation is a common symptom of GDV.
  • Collapse or Weakness: As the condition worsens, the dog may collapse or become weak and lethargic.

4. Treatment of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention. If you suspect your dog has GDV or notice any of the mentioned symptoms, seek veterinary help without delay. Treatment for GDV typically involves:

  • Stabilization: The veterinarian will stabilize the dog’s condition, addressing shock and ensuring proper oxygenation.
  • Decompression: The vet will relieve the pressure in the stomach by passing a tube through the dog’s mouth and into the stomach to release the accumulated gas and fluids.
  • Surgery: In severe cases or if the stomach has twisted, emergency surgery may be necessary to reposition the stomach and prevent further complications.

5. Prevention of Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

While it may not be entirely preventable, there are some measures dog owners can take to reduce the risk of GDV:

  • Feeding Practices: Divide meals into smaller, frequent portions and use slow-feeder bowls to slow down eating.
  • Avoid Vigorous Exercise: Prevent intense physical activity immediately after meals.
  • Stress Management: Reduce stress and anxiety in dogs through proper training and environmental enrichment.
  • Elevated Feeding: Consider using elevated feeding dishes to encourage slower eating and aid digestion.


Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate attention. Understanding the causes, symptoms, emergency treatment, and preventive measures is essential for recognizing and addressing GDV promptly. If you suspect your dog has GDV or notice any concerning signs, seek veterinary care immediately to ensure the best possible outcome for your beloved canine companion.