Dog owners urged to learn symptoms of potentially fatal stomach condition GDV

GDV can affect several breeds of dog who suffer from stomach pain (Image: Getty)

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Dog owners have been warned to be aware of a condition which can kill their pooches.

Vets and pet writers say it's important to be aware of Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) which can affect the stomachs of dogs and even lead to death.

After the death of a beloved Great Dane Barnaby, one owner got in touch with TeamDogs wanting to raise awareness of his condition – GDV. He was only three-years-old.

Vet and pet writer Dr. Joanna Woodnutt BVM BVS MRCVS had advice for owners

She said: “GDV stands for ‘Gastric Dilation Volvulus’. It’s a dangerous condition where the stomach bloats and then twists.

"The twist is the dangerous bit – it traps gas, stomach contents, and blood in the stomach area and causes pain and shock..

None of us like to think of our dogs no longer being around
(Image: Getty)

She added: “The twist also stops the blood from moving around the stomach and guts properly. Very quickly, this lack of blood supply causes the tissues of the stomach to die.

"Not only is this painful, but damaged tissues become leaky, causing life-threatening peritonitis.

“Despite this, many dogs with GDV die from the shock, especially when the extra-large stomach starts pressing on some of the major blood vessels that run through the abdomen, slowing blood movement further and compromising the heart.”

The vet advised that sometimes the spleen can be caught up in the twist, leading to further blood loss and shock.

A pet owner wanted to raise awareness of his condition GDV
(Image: Getty)

Any sign of bloating should be treated as soon as possible, to prevent the stomach from twisting.

Joanna told the chroniclelive “Signs of abdominal pain, like looking at the abdomen and adopting the ‘prayer position’, are some of the earliest signs of a problem developing.

“Rounding of the abdomen as the dog bloats is a sign that veterinary attention should be sought immediately.”

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She also mentioned other symptoms which should be considered an emergency and a sign that you should head to the nearest open veterinary surgery immediately.

They include include unproductive retching, drooling, changes in breathing rate and collapse.

Dogs can die of GDV, so look out for the signs
(Image: Getty)

Greater age is also a factor, with a higher likelihood in dogs over the age of four.

Stress is another contributor and GDV often happens while dogs are being boarded.

She also mentioned how once-daily feeding and exercising close to time of feeding can be a risk.

“Whilst raising the food bowl is often recommended, it’s actually been shown to increase the risk of GDV in large, deep-chested dogs,” said Joanna.

“Other than reducing some of the risk factors, like feeding twice daily and not exercising near mealtimes, the best way to prevent GDV is by having a “stomach tack” (prophylactic gastropexy) performed in at-risk breeds.

“This is usually done at the time of neutering, and the vet opens the abdomen and attaches the stomach to the body wall so that, even if it bloats, it can’t twist.”

As was the case Barnaby, the condition can be fatal for pooches.

Joanna told Teamdogs GDV can only be effectively treated with surgery, and the sooner, the better.

But a vet’s first task would be to treat the dog’s shock.

She said: "Once your dog is considered stable enough, they’ll have an anesthetic”

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