Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) — Bloat

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) is a condition caused by a twisting of the stomach and thus trapping the stomach contents and gases resulting in a rapid swelling of the abdomen accompanied by pain and eventual death if untreated. It is an emergency, requiring immediate veterinary action. This condition is most often found in large, deep chested dog breeds. Anyone owning a deep chested breed, susceptible to Bloat should be prepared to handle the emergency procedures necessary, including having readily available the name and phone number of emergency clinics and/or after-hours Veterinarians.

Breeds with a deeper and narrower chest are most susceptible, including but not limited to:

Symptoms can be subtle. You should learn to recognize them:

  • Continuous pacing and/or lying down in odd places
  • Salivating, panting, whining
  • Unable to get comfortable
  • Acting agitated
  • Unproductive vomiting or retching (may produce frothy foamy vomit in small quantities)
  • Excessive drooling, usually accompanied by retching noises
  • Swelling in abdominal area (may or may not be noticeable)

If ANY combination of these symptoms are noticed, CALL YOUR VET and get the dog there as fast as possible. Bloat is LIFE-THREATENING.

While the cause of Bloat is unknown, many people agree that multiple small meals per day versus one large meal as well as preventing virgorous exercise around meal times can help reduce the risk of Bloat. In addition, there is a procedure known as "preventative tack" (prophylactic gastropexy) which can help prevent some of the more serious aspects of the condition. This should be discussed with your Breeder and your Veterinarian before consideration.

Additional Information:

For more information on what you can do in the case of a Bloat emergency, see First Aid for Bloat.


Note: This section of Canada's Guide to Dogs is intended as a source of information only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional care. Always consult with your Veterinarian about health related matters.