Gastric dilatation with volvulus (GDV)

This highly dangerous condition involves the distension of the stomach and its rotation around its long axis. The result is a stomach that rapidly loses its blood supply, leading to death of tissue, and creating of a wide range of extremely toxic factors into the blood stream, affecting the function of all vital organs in the body.

Untreated, GDV is very rapidly fatal.

GDV is more common in the following circumstances:
  • Increasing age of dog
  • Larger breeds
  • Narrow, deep-chested breeds
  • Aerophagia: dogs that gulp their food down too rapidly swallow a lot of air at the same time
  • Eating fermentable foods
  • Exercise within an hour of a large meal
  • Stress or kennelling
  • Nervous disposition
  • Close relative that has had a GDV
  • Great Danes


GDV is a surgical emergency. Treatment must commence as soon as possible, and ideally within 1-2 hours of the twist occurring. Every hour delay means more likelihood of stomach wall death, which dramatically affects survival chances.

Patients are stabilised as rapidly as possible using oxygen therapy, shock fluid therapy, and emergency trocharisation of the distended stomach.

Xrays will identify if the stomach is twisted or not. Blood tests can be used to give an indication as to whether the stomach is dying, which gives information about prognosis.

As soon as the patient is stable enough to anaesthetise, we proceed straight to surgery. The stomach is derotated while a stomach tube is gently passed. The stomach is then emptied via the stomach tube and then flushed out several times. If the contents are not able to be removed via the tube, the stomach is opened and the contents removed surgically.

The stomach is then permanently attached to the right side of the abdominal wall (gastropexy) to prevent a GDV happening in the future.

Suitable candidates

Otherwise healthy dogs which have been in GDV for less than 2 hours are good candidates for surgery. Beyond 2 hours there is still a chance of success, but the odds start to stack against us.

Time in clinic

GDV patients will routinely be kept in the clinic for 3 days after surgery to monitor fluid requirements, clotting function, bowel function, and heart function. Complications after this condition are common and need to be monitored for.

After care

The patient will be on medication and a special diet for a couple of weeks after surgery. Strict rest for 2 weeks at home.

How to book

Give reception a ring on 09 238 7486 to discuss transfer of your patient to our clinic for assessment and treatment. You may be asked to bring any clinical notes, xrays images, and medications with you when you come.