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Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV), also known as “bloat,” stomach torsion or “twisted stomach.” Bloat is an extremely serious condition that it most common in large, barrel-chested dogs (Great Danes, Doberman, Boxers, Mastiffs, etc.) and should be considered a life-threatening emergency when it occurs. The gastric dilatation is one part of the condition and torsion is the second part. Bloat is due to a number of different and sometimes unknown reasons. The stomach fills up with air and puts pressure on the other organs and diaphragm. There are no home remedies for bloat, therefore, a trip to your local emergency vet is a must. GDV is life-threatening if it is not treated immediately.  Even with a treatment, it has been known that 25-33% of dogs with GDV don’t survive. Understanding the signs, prevention and need for immediate treatment will help reduce the risk of mortality if your dog develops this problem.


This picture shows a dog “bloating.” You can see him uncomfortably hunched over and his abdomen is enlarged.

There isn’t one specific activity that leads to the development of GDV, but there can be several reasons as to why bloat occurs. Bloat is caused by swallowing air, but unlike humans, dogs cannot release this air by eructating (burping). It is unknown why d  ogs cannot release this unwanted gas. Some of the obvious symptoms of bloat can be:

  1. Attempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur every 5-30 minutes – This seems to be one of the most common symptoms. This may even sound like a repeated cough.
  2. “Hunched up” appearance – This seems to occur pretty frequently.
  3. Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum)
  4. Heavy breathing or salivating
  5. Excessive drinking

Some recommendations from a licensed veterinarian include feeding your dog with a slow feeder bowl (to make sure it takes longer for them to ingest the food). It’s also recommended to hold off on any physical activity for at least 2 hours after a meal. Sometimes even cutting their meals into four smaller portions will help prevent bloating. In the hotter seasons, make sure your dog drinks water in small portions and drinks fairly slow. Drinking too much water too quickly can cause them to swallow a lot of air.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus is unfortunately very common in dogs and since it can be fatal, it is important to follow these instructions to help prevent bloating. If you see your dog have these symptoms, transport your dog to the vet immediately. For more information on GDV, consult with your veterinarian.

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