BLOAT

Gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), more commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, is a disease in dogs in which the animal’s stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its short axis. A number of emergency conditions may result as a consequence of this gastric rotation, including progressive distension of the stomach, increased pressure within the abdomen, damage to the cardiovascular system, and decreased perfusion. Perfusion is the process of delivering nutrients via blood in the arteries to the body’s tissues. Insufficient perfusion may lead to cellular damage and even organ death.

Symptoms of GDV include anxious behaviour, depression, abdominal pain and distention, collapse, excessive drooling, and vomiting to the point of unproductive dry heaving. A physical examination may also reveal an extremely rapid heart beat, labored breathing, a weak pulse, and a pale mucus membrane.

The exact causes of GDV are unknown. A variety of factors, including genetics, anatomy, and environment, are most likely to blame. For example, dogs that have a first relative with a history of GDV have been shown to be at higher risk.

Additionally, large and giant-breed dogs may be at higher risk, especially deep-chested breeds such as great Danes, German shepherds, and standard poodles. Although GDV has been reported in puppies, risk does increase with age. 

Some factors that are believed to contribute to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity after eating. In some cases, dogs affected by GDV have a history of gastrointestinal tract problems. It should be noted, however, that these characteristics do not necessarily occur with all cases

GDV is an emergency condition requiring patients to be hospitalized and aggressively treated. If secondary cardiovascular problems are apparent, they will need to be immediately treated. After the heart is stabilized, gastric decompression can be performed, preferably with orogastric intubation, a process by which a tube is inserted through the patient’s mouth into the stomach. After these processes are complete and the patient is stabilized, surgical measures may be taken to return internal organs (such as the stomach and spleen) to their normal positions. Additional treatment may be needed to address any organ damage. A permanent gastropexy, in which the patient’s stomach is surgically secured to prevent future improper rotation, may be done to prevent recurrence of GDV.

Bloat can occur in any dog at any age, but typically occurs in middle-aged to older dogs. Large-breed dogs with deep chests are anatomically predisposed.

These breeds include the Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog, St. Bernard, Labrador Retriever, Irish Wolfhound, Great Pyrenees, Boxer, Weimaraner, Old English Sheepdog, Irish Setter, Collie*, Bloodhound, and Standard Poodle. Chinese Shar-Pei and Basset Hounds have the highest incidence among midsize dogs.

Small dogs are rarely affected, with the exception of Dachshunds, who are also deep-chested.

*note - Boat is very rare in UK bred Collies