GDV: What You Should Know

Gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), or commonly known as the “bloat," is a life-threatening medical emergency that can occur in dogs. The stomach may rotate out of its normal position, becoming twisted or “torsed.” This condition is a true emergency. Radiographs confirm the diagnosis and emergency surgery is the only treatment option. 


Certain breeds, notably Great Danes and Standard Poodles are at higher risk of GDV. However, this condition can occur in any breed. Other risk factors include feeding once daily meals, feeding from an elevated bowl, very thin dogs, rapid food consumption and exercise right after meals.

What to look for: a distended stomach, restlessness, excessive drooling and unproductive retching or gagging. With any of these clinical signs contact your veterinarian or an emergency hospital immediately.

How can this be prevented? Feed at least 2 meals per day, preferably presoaked food. Use a food bowl that slows down eating and restrict exercise to at least 1-2 hours after meals.

High risk dogs such as large and giant breed dogs are considered good candidates for a procedure called a gastropexy. This is a low-risk surgery that can be performed at the same time as your pet's spay or neuter and involves anchoring the stomach to the body wall to prevent the life-threatening torsion. The Great Dane Club of America recommends this to all its members.

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