Gastric Dilation Volvulus and What You Need To Know


Gastric Dilatation Volvulus, otherwise known as Bloat, Gastric Torsion or GDV, is a life threatening medical condition that is the second leading cause of death in dogs behind cancer. It is a condition that is primarily found in large dogs with deep chests such as German Shepherds, Great Danes, St. Bernards, Boxers, Basset Hounds, and Weimaraners to name a few. However, that is not to say that other dogs can’t succumb to GDV as well, because any dog with a history (hereditary) of GDV is potentially susceptible.

What physically happens to a dog when GDV strikes? The dog’s stomach becomes filled with contents such as excessive gas, food, water, and even foam causing it to distend to abnormal proportions (this is the dilation or bloat part of GDV). Next, the stomach twists (this is the volulus or torsion part) thereby trapping the excess gas and other contents inside the stomach. When this happens, there is no way for the dog to alleviate the pressure because the stomach has twisted so much (sometimes the rotation is 360 degrees) that there is no way the dog can vomit or even belch. As the GDV progresses (which is usually quite rapid), the stomach begins to put pressure on all the surrounding organs. Additionally, no blood can pass through the stomach lining which means that there is a great risk for hypotension, decreased blood return to the heart, and decreased blood flow to other bodily organs, some which help remove toxins and absorb bacteria from the blood like the liver. GDV is so detrimental to your dog’s health that if not treated immediately, it can lead to blood poisoning, peritonitis and even death.

What causes Gastric Dilatation Volvulus in dogs? As mentioned previously, hereditary and physical design can make one dog more prone to GDV than another. There are additional factors such as:

  • Being an older, male dog

  • Eating kibble only