When the dog is presented to the hospital his condition is assessed. Blood samples are generally taken and tested to help determine the dog's status.
Usually the animal is in shock, or predisposed to it, so intravenous catheters are placed and fluids are administered. Antibiotics and pain relievers may be
The air in the stomach is removed either by passing a stomach tube or inserting a large needle into the stomach and releasing the gas. After the animal is stabilized, x-rays are taken to help determine whether or not a volvulus is present.
Some dogs with GDV develop a bleeding disorder called disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), in which small clots start to develop within the dog's blood vessels. To prevent or treat this condition, heparin, an anticoagulant, may be given.
The heart rate and rhythm are closely monitored. Some dogs with GDV develop heart arrhythmias, and this is a common cause of death in dogs with GDV. Dogs that already have a heart disease or are prone to heart arrythmias are generally treated with appropriate medications.
Once the dog is stabilized, abdominal surgery is usually indicated to accomplish three things:
• Assess the health of the stomach and surrounding organs. If areas of the stomach or spleen have been irreversibly damaged, they are removed. In such a case, the chances for recovery are very poor, and euthanasia may be an alternative.
• Properly reposition the stomach
• Suture the stomach in a way to prevent it from twisting again (a procedure called gastropexy).
If gastropexy is not performed, 75-80% of dogs will develop GDV again.
After surgery, the dog is closely monitored for several days for signs of infection, heart abnormalities, DIC, stomach ulceration or perforation, and damage to the pancreas or liver. Antibiotics and additional medications may need to be given.
Bloat is a very serious and life threatening condition.
There is no one particular activity that leads to the development of GDV. It appears that it occurs as a combination of events. Studies of the stomach gas that occurs in dilatation have shown that it is similar to the composition of normal room air suggesting that the dilatation occurs as a result of swallowing air.
All dogs, and people for that matter, swallow air, but normally we eructate (burp) and release this air and it is not a problem. For some reason that scientists have not yet determined, these dogs that develop bloat do not release this swallowed gas. There are currently several studies looking into what happens physiologically in these dogs that develop GDV.
• Owners of susceptible breeds should be aware of the early signs of bloat and contact their veterinarian as soon as possible if GDV is suspected.
• Owners of susceptible breeds should develop a good working relationship with a local veterinarian in case emergency care is needed.
• Large dogs should be fed two or three times daily, rather than once a day.
• Water should be available at all times, but should be limited immediately after feeding.
• Vigorous exercise, excitement, and stress should be avoided one hour before and two hours after meals.
• Diet changes should be made gradually over a period of three to five days.
• Susceptible dogs should be fed individually and, if possible in a quiet location.
• Some studies suggest that dogs who are susceptible to bloat should not be fed with elevated feeders; other studies have not found this to be true. It is recommended, however, that dogs at increased risk be fed at floor level.
• Some studies have associated food particle size, fat content, moistening of foods containing citric acid, and other factors with bloat. At this time, no cause-and-result relationships between these factors and bloat have been verified.
• Dogs that have survived bloat are at an increased risk for future episodes; therefore prevention in the form of preventive surgery or medical management should be discussed with the veterinarian.