Gastric Dilation Volvulus

Gastric dilation volvulus (GDV), commonly known as “bloat,” is a life-threatening condition that can affect every breed of any age at any time. It is a medical condition that affects dogs in which the huge, gas-filled stomach twists upon itself so that both the entrance and exit of the stomach become blocked.

Large, deep-chested breeds are more prone to GDV. These includes Great Danes, Saint Bernards, German Shepherds, Golden Retrievers, Weimaraners, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, Standard Poodles, Basset Hounds, Doberman Pinschers, and Old English Sheepdog.


Firm distension of the abdomen
Extreme discomfort
Laboured breathing
Excessive drooling
Retching without producing any vomit
Rapid heart beat
Pale mucous membrane/shock

Help! My Dog Has Bloat | Dealing With A Canine Emergency

Dog with a bloated abdomen


The exact causes of GDV are unknown. There is dysfunction of the muscles between the esophagus and stomach, and an obstruction of outflow through the opening of the stomach into the small intestine.

Predisposing factors:

Increased age
Breed, particularly those with deep and narrow chest
Ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water in a small period of time
Too much activity after eating
Delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system


X-rays of the abdomen is typically required for diagnosis.

Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV) - Animal Emergency Care

X-ray of a dog with GDV. 


GDV is a rapidly life-threatening condition in dogs that requires prompt surgical treatment. Your vet will typically require emergency stabilisation with intravenous fluids and medication prior. Surgery entails de-rotation of the twisted stomach and removal of any dying tissue. A gastropexy is typically performed. This is a procedure where the stomach is secured to part of the abdominal wall, decreasing the risk of repeated twisting and GDV. Generally, the pet will require a period of intensive monitoring post surgery for any possible complications.


Post contributed by Nurse Julie