* Petmoo is reader-supported. When you buy products via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you.

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus In Dogs

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus In Dogs

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a rapidly progressive, acute, fatal condition of dogs characterized by malposition and uncharacteristic twisting of the stomach on its mesenteric axis due to increased intragastric pressure, with subsequent distention and gastric gas accumulation.

GDV is possibly one of the gravest non-traumatic conditions seen in dogs. GDV Sequelae include hypovolemia, decreased venous return to the heart, systemic hypotension, gastric ischemia, myocardial injury, shock, portal hypertension, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and sepsis.

Gastric dilatation (bloat) precedes volvulus development (torsion) and it is an effect of gas and fluid accumulation in the stomach either due to functional or mechanical disorders in the pyloric outflow.

The stomach distends and rotates around a clockwise direction in its long axis (the ventrodorsal perspective) about the distal esophagus, and dislodgment and occlusion of the duodenum and pylorus occur. This hinders the outflow of the esophagus and duodenum.

The caudal vena cava and portal vein obstruction also happen to result in venous stasis and sequestration of blood in renal, posterior, and splanchnic muscular capillary beds. This venous return (decline in circulating blood volume) and the following decrease in arterial blood pressure, tissue perfusion, and cardiac output culminate in hypovolemic shock. splenic torsion, Devitalization of the gastric wall, endotoxic shock, and congestion of abdominal viscera further exacerbate the hypovolemic calamity.

The dog breeds that are considered to be most at risk for GDV are Large and deep-chested dogs. Even small-and medium-breed dogs with a deep chest conformation, including Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels, and Shar-peis, can develop GDV. Mostly, the dogs are middle-aged to older as of the frequency of GDV increases with increasing age.

Symptoms Of Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

  • Looking down at the abdomen.
  • Bloat (a swollen tummy).
  • Distending abdomen
  • Non-productive Retching (dry heaving - trying to vomit or feeling about to throw up).
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Abdominal distension, Abdomen swollen due to fluid accumulation.
  • Excessive drooling
  • Nausea
  • Agitation / Shock
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Pale gums

Treatment Options For Gastric Dilatation Volvulus


  • IV fluids: Hypertonic saline, Ringer's, Plasmalyte, and Normosol-R.
  • Gastric decompression: Orogastric intubation or percutaneous trocharization.
  • Antibiotics: For dogs with suspected gastric necrosis - Amoxil (amoxicillin), Garamycin (gentamicin).
  • Antiarrhyth mics: Lidocaine, Sotalol, Mexiletine, and Amiodarone.
  • Oxygen supplementation: Dogs with poor perfusion measures.
  • Drugs that decrease reperfusion injury: Lidocaine and Ketamine.
  • Fresh frozen plasma: Deficiency of coagulation factors.


Gastropexy: The stomach wall is sutured to the diaphragm or abdominal wall.

Gastric decompression: Removal of stomach contents using a nasogastric tube.

Trocharization: Gastric decompression is done by inserting a needle on the left side of the abdomen i.e on the site of greatest tympany or greatest distention.

Pyloroplasty: This is a gastric drainage procedure done by breaching the pylorus to drain stomach outflow into the duodenum.

Home Remedies For Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

  • Increase the frequency of mini-meals and avoid feeding large quantities of food at a single time.
  • Dogs having a family history of bloat should be checked regularly.
  • Underweight dogs should be fed carefully.
  • Avoid moistened dry food, particularly if citric acid is used as a preservative.

Prevention Of Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

  • Dogs should have a comfortable, easy-going, or contented environment.
  • Divide 2 meals into 4 mini-meals.
  • Introduce a healthy late-night snacking right before sleep to decrease the night fasting period.
  • Careful with your food measurements and don’t overindulge.
  • Add canned dog food to the diet.
  • Feed a dry food that includes a calcium-rich meat meal (such as fish meal, meat meal or bone meal, or chicken by-product meal).

Affected Breeds Of Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

Great Dane, German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Gordon Setter, Weimaraner, Saint Bernard, Standard Poodle, Bassett Hound, Doberman Pinscher, Old English Sheepdog, Cocker Spaniel, Shar Pei

Additional Facts For Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

  1. Causes:
  • Deep chest conformation i.e., a slender chest that goes below the dog's (Bigger thoracic depth-to-width ratio).
  • Large or Giant-breed dog.
  • Hereditary, particularly having a first-degree relative with a history of GDV.
  • The previous episode of gastric dilatation.
  • History of the previous splenectomy.
  • Increasing age
  • A pre-existing gastric foreign body or gastrointestinal disease.
  • Eating a meal quickly.
  • The large volume of food is fed once daily.
  • Living in an anxious, nervous, or scared environment.
  1. Morbidity:
  • Clinical studies demonstrate that the top three breeds that are at high risk of GDV were Great Dane, St. Bernard, and Weimaraner.
  • Dogs of over 45 - 50 kg have roughly a 25% risk of GDV in their lifetime.
  • Occasionally, Gastric dilatation occurs without volvulus in older small dogs.
  1. Mortality:

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus are considered a medical emergency. Even with immediate care, the mortality rate is high. In general, the mortality rate due to GDV in dogs is 20% - 40%.

  1. Diagnosis:
  • Complete blood count (CBC).
  • Biochemical profile
  • Ultrasound and Abdominal x-rays
  • Abdominal fluid biopsy
  • ECG
  • Blood gas analysis
  1. Prognosis:

The outcome depends on the severity of GDV. If prompt medical attention is provided, then there is a good survival rate (>90%). Usually above 60% of dogs survive this disease.

When To See A Vet

Contact your vet right away, if you notice any of the following:

  • Bloat (a swollen tummy).
  • Distending abdomen
  • Non-productive Retching (dry heaving - trying to vomit or feeling about to throw up).
  • Difficulty breathing

Food Suggestions For Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

  • Protein (moderate levels of bioavailable protein).
  • Leafy greens, fresh vegetables, and antioxidants.
  • 75% of a Dog’s food should be complete, wholesome food certified by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).
  • The remaining 25% of your dog’s diet can be canned food or other foods.
  • Omega fats: Omega-6 and omega-3 in a 4:1 ratio.
  • Regulated treats that are part of the daily calorie intake.
  • Bland diet: Boiled chicken, cooked rice, tofu, low-fat cottage cheese, boiled hamburger, canned tuna, etc.


As in many cases, the Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus etiology are often serious in nature and they should be dealt with immediately and efficiently. GDV is considered a medical emergency. Even with immediate care, the mortality rate is relatively high.

dog care
dog health
dog breeds
dog food
dog training
dog insurance
Petmoo Tools
Essential Tools for Pet Owners
Top Rated Services In Your Neighborhood