GDV is short for Gastric Dilation Volvulus. Gastric means stomach, dilation means expanded or blown up (bloated) and volvulus means twisted. So many of you might know this disease as “bloat” or “twisted stomach”. This is different than “food bloat”. We had a dog out east and one out west dealing with each of these issues this past fall. Both have done very well since their ordeals thankfully!
GDV is a life threatening emergency that requires surgical correction ASAP. Food bloat isn’t usually life threatening and will often self-resolve. However, both can look similar on initial inspection. The dog who had food bloat this fall appeared lethargic, had a big abdomen and looked nauseated. GDV dogs are often trying to vomit but can’t, have a big abdomen and lethargic. So it can be hard to tell the two apart, so you should take your dog into the clinic to have him checked out. The first thing your veterinarian will do, once in the clinic, is to take an x-ray of the abdomen. This will diagnose a food bloat or GDV. In the one dog’s case he was taken to the emergency clinic by his owner and the x-ray showed a massive food bloat. In his case, he was hospitalized with pain medication and intravenous fluids and went home the next day. If this had been a GDV case like the dog out east, the dog would have headed into surgery. In surgery the stomach is deflated, untwisted and then sutured to the body wall, so that it can’t twist again in the future. If you do not get your dog to the vet ASAP, GDV can be fatal.
In the photo below is an xray of a dog’s stomach. The head is to the left, the tail to the right. The big black area is the massively enlarged stomach full of gas/air and is twisting.