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Browse our veterinary-reviewed Dog and Cat Illness Guide to learn more about pet health. Always talk to your veterinarian if you have a concern about your pet's symptoms or health.
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Canine Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus


Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) is a fatal condition most common in large, deep-chested dogs. The stomach bloats with gas or fluid and then painfully twists itself. This causes blockages at the entrance and exit of the stomach, which cuts off blood flow and causes loss of stomach tissue.

A dog with a bloated, twisted stomach will die in pain within a few hours unless it gets emergency surgery.


The exact cause of GDV is unknown. However, some dogs are more prone to it. Factors include:


The main symptom is retching, but being unable to vomit. Other signs may include:

If you see any of the above signs, rush your dog to the veterinarian immediately. As the stomach swells, it can burst.


Gastric dilatation and volvulus are fairly easy to diagnose. Your veterinarian will only need to perform x-rays and ultrasounds to check if the stomach is bloated or twisted.


GDV is a life-threatening emergency and requires immediate treatment.

Treatment consists of:


In breeds with a high risk of GDV, your veterinarian may recommend gastropexy as a preventative. This will not prevent the dilation (bloat) but does prevent the volvulus (twisting).

It is a good idea to feed large, deep-chested dogs small and frequent meals.


If you catch GDV in time and surgery is performed right away, there is a 50% chance of recovery. Even with very skilled and immediate veterinary care, some dogs still do not survive this disease. 

Irregular heart rate, tissue damage, and spleen removal all worsen the prognosis.

Even once your pet is stable, it is important to have the surgery done because most dogs do not survive without it. If the dog does survive, 75% of cases, will have a recurrence.

Medically Reviewed by Sara Ochoa, DVM 

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