Bloat or GDV

GDV stands for gastric dilation volvulus and means that a dog’s stomach has been distended (bloated) with air and has twisted on itself. This is a very serious disease which occurs very suddenly, most commonly in large breed dogs, rarely in mid-small breed dogs. Before the stomach twists the disease is known as gastric dilation or bloat.

The cause of GDV is unknown but there are known risk factors:

  • Deep chested dogs, especially Great Danes, German Shepherds, Weimaraners and Dobermans
  • Diet – large volumes of food per meal, and meals of only dry food (biscuits)
  • Underlying gastrointestinal disease
  • Exercise before and after meals
  • Elevated feeding (feeding from a height)
  • Rapid eating
  • Male gender
  • Increasing age
  • Poor body condition
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Having a first degree relative with a history of GDV

GDV is a medical emergency, it causes severe pain and distress and can result in fatal physiological disturbances, such as shock and cardiac arrhythmias.

Clinical signs (symptoms) of GDV include:

  • Bloated abdomen
  • Unproductive retching
  • Restlessness and distress
  • Collapse
  • Excessive salivation or drooling

When you arrive at the vet we will:

  • Administer pain relief and large volumes of IV fluids
  • Take an x-ray to differentiate from bloat and GDV
  • Attempt stomach decompression via a tube or needle prior to surgery
  • Perform surgery if confirmed as GDV
  • Provide critical care and intensive monitoring for 12-24 hours post-surgery as required


Reducing risk factors where possible is the best way to prevent GDV in at risk breeds. This can be achieved by:

  • Feeding several smaller meals a day rather than one large one
  • Feeding a high quality food that requires less bulk to achieve nutritional requirements
  • Mixing dry food with fresh meat or tinned food
  • Reducing stress and excitement during feeding times, for example separating dogs at meal times
  • Not breeding from dogs with a history of GDV
  • Not exercising dogs before or after meals

If you suspect your dog has GDV you must bring them into the clinic immediately.

Before you come to the vet please ensure:
  • You have directions to our clinic and our phone number (link to find us and contact us)
  • If possible call us on the way so we can be expecting you
  • You drive safely!