Gastric Torsion: Don't Get it Twisted

Precious Braveheart Header

This is Precious, a very brave nine and a half year old Saint Bernard who belongs to the lovely receptionist, Vicki, at Medivet Littlemoor, and her fiancé Craig. Precious was awarded Medivet Wool's Braveheart Award for April – an award that is given to patients who display tremendous amounts of bravery during treatment. Here’s why…

Precious’ story…

A few weeks ago, Precious was incredibly poorly and was rushed to Medivet Wool with a hugely bloated abdomen. The bloated abdomen was due to a full twist of her stomach.

This is known as gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), more commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, a disease in dogs in which their stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its short axis. There are a number of emergency conditions that may result as a consequence of this rotation, including increased pressure within the abdomen 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 failure.

GDV is considered a medical emergency so it must be dealt with immediately, and that’s exactly what Vicki and Craig did.

The veterinary surgeon at Medivet Wool, Andy Buchan, completed the surgery and amazingly, Precious made it through! Unfortunately, her heart wasn’t in a good condition following the surgery, so she had to be kept in for a few days where she was cared for by the nursing team and vets, Andy and Sarah.

Precious has now made a full recovery and is enjoying cuddles and sofa time back at home with her mummy!

Vicki said: ‘It’s unbelievable that she’s back to normal after going through major surgery. The team were terrific at pulling her through it!’

She added: ‘She’s my special girl. She certainly knows she’s gorgeous and uses this to her advantage for treats and cuddles.’

Well done, Precious! You were so brave!

GDV can be life-threatening, so if you suspect your pet is suffering from it, we strongly recommend you take them to your local vet immediately.

Having knowledge of the signs to look for, the seriousness of the condition and the action to take will help you save your pet’s life in the event that he or she develops this condition.

What is the cause of GDV?

Although the exact cause of GDV is still unknown, there are a variety of factors that could have a significant impact; for example genetics, anatomy and environment. There are other causes that are believed to contribute, such as excessive amounts of food or water, or too much activity soon after eating.

All dogs can suffer from GDV, but it is much more common in large, deep chested breeds, such as German Shepherds, Basset Hounds, Setters and Great Danes.   

What are the symptoms?

Your dog may display the following signs if he or she is suffering from GDV:

  • Change in behaviour
  • Restlessness
  • Increased breathing/high heart rate
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting white froth, or trying unsuccessfully to vomit
  • Enlarged abdomen (depending on the progression of the condition)
  • Pale gums
  • Intense abdominal pain (preventing your dog from moving around)

How can it be prevented?

One of the most important things you can do to prevent your dog from developing GDV is to feed a species-specific diet (your veterinary surgeon will be able to advise a diet to suit your pet's needs and lifestyle), with smaller feeds taking place two or three times a day, rather than one large meal. Also, you can:

  • Avoid exercising your dog right after a meal
  • Hold back large amounts of water for an hour after eating
  • Give them time to process their food and offer water in small amounts

Although you may do the above to help prevent GDV from happening, please be aware that unfortunately it can still occur.

Don’t wait until it’s too late!

Prevention is better than cure, so if you suspect your dog is suffering from GDV, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Here at Medivet, we know what a worry it can be when your pet requires unexpected emergency treatment. All our practices offer a dedicated out-of-hours service, and we are proud to be able to offer a 24-hour emergency service, where our dedicated 24-hour centres are open all day, every day (including Bank Holidays!). Simply use our handy online practice finder tool to locate your local 24-hour centre.

Posted April 26, 2016 by Cara Zaleski in Pet Care Advice

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