Dr. Julie Damron

2 minutes reading time (364 words)

Digestive issues can be sign of big problem

By Dr. Julie Damron
Stockton Record May 3, 2008

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition in which an animal's stomach becomes distended with gas and twists. This differs from bloat, which is abdominal distention without the twist.

The exact cause of GDV is poorly understood, and it typically occurs in large-breed or deep-chested canines. It often happens just after a dog has consumed a lot of food or water. There also is a link with exercise or rolling after eating and drinking.

Male dogs are twice as likely to get GDV, and dogs older than 7 are even more susceptible. A slow rate of digestion can be a contributing factor. There is also some hereditary connection.

GDV can progress quite rapidly. Bloat or abdominal distension is usually the first visual sign of a problem. Vomiting or dry heaves and anxious behavior are very common. Lethargy, pain and shock soon follow.

An initial work-up and treatment plan will consist of X-rays, blood work and IV fluids. If only bloating is present, this can be relieved by passing a tube into the stomach. This is important because removing the gas can prevent the formation of GDV.

Once GDV is confirmed, surgical intervention should be performed as soon as possible. During an exploratory surgery, the stomach twist can be relieved, and the rest of the intestinal tract examined for tissue vitality. Sometimes intestinal tissue needs to be removed. Prognosis depends on how long the stomach has been twisted, and how much damage is present along the intestinal tract.

GDV can be difficult to prevent. Many pet owners have their dog's stomach tacked to the abdominal wall. This procedure, called gastropexy, stops the stomach from twisting.

It is also recommended that you feed your dog multiple small meals a day, as opposed to a single large one. In addition, do not let your pet exercise right after eating. If possibly, try to decrease how quickly the food is consumed.

The most important thing you can do is to take your dog to the veterinarian immediately at the first sign of bloating.

Julie Damron is a veterinarian at Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Stockton. Read all her columns at recordnet.com. Contact her at .

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