Gastropexy to prevent GDV

Gastropexy is a procedure that can be used to prevent Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) in large and giant breed dogs.

What is GDV?

GDV occurs when the stomach bloats with food and gas and then twists. The twist (or volvulus) cuts off blood supply to the stomach and/or spleen and also prevents a dog from burping. As the gas builds up in the stomach, a life-threatening situation occurs rapidly. Left untreated this condition is nearly always fatal.

Signs of GDV include restlessness, agitation, tummy pain, laboured breathing, bloated belly, vomiting or attempted vomiting, collapse and shock.

This is a true emergency—a dog suffering GDV must be rushed to the nearest emergency vet. Lucky for us, in Canberra we have two excellent round-the-clock emergency centres:-

GDV mostly occurs in large and giant breed, deep-chested dogs and is commonly seen in Great Danes. Other breeds susceptible to GDV include German Shepherds, Weimaraners, St Bernards, Standard Poodles, Irish Setters, Newfoundlands and other medium breeds. There are populations of Basset Hounds and Dachshunds in which GDV is a risk and it is occasionally seen in small dogs and even cats.

Any pet owner who has been through a GDV experience will tell you of the horrors!

The risk of GDV is not very big, however in one recent study the occurrence of GDV in a Great Dane population was 10 percent! In that study, prevalence in the other at-risk breeds was lower and, across the normal dog population was only 2 to 6 cases per 1000 dogs or 0.2-0.6 percent.

What is Gastropexy?

Gastropexy is a surgical procedure performed to permanently attach the most freely mobile part of a dog’s stomach to its body wall. This is the part that twists in GDV, so by attaching it to the body wall, twisting is prevented.

How is gastropexy performed?

Gastropexy can be performed in one of two ways.

  • It can be performed through an opening in the abdomen.
  • It can be performed using a laparoscope.  There are a couple of vets in Canberra who are equipped and skilled in keyhole surgery.

When is the best time to do a gastropexy?

A preventative gastropexy can be performed at the same time as a delayed desexing. We have been advising delayed desexing in some large breeds until the dogs are close to physical maturity. This helps to reduce the incidence of some orthopaedic diseases and is a good opportunity to remove the risk of GDV.

How else can GDV be prevented?

Precautions to prevent bloat include not exercising your dog before or after feeding and offering frequent small meals rather than one large one. There are techniques that can be used to slow down food intake.If you are considering a gastropexy in your deep-chested large or giant breed dog, please discuss this with one of our veterinarians.