Great Danes, German shepherds, weimaraners and similar dogs are susceptible to the life-threatening condition gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV).
GDV is an acute severe medical and surgical condition characterised by gastric distension; malpositioning of the stomach; increased gastric pressure; vascular compromise and circulatory shock.
All very complicated words for an absolute emergency, as a twisted stomach prevents the escape of the contents (gas or fluid) trapped inside.
Reported risk factors include first degree relatives that have a history of GDV; deep chest breeds; lean body condition; advancing age; eating quickly; eating from a raised food bowl; eating only dry food and/or a single meal daily and a fearful or nervous temperament (those 'type A' personalities).
Large and giant breed dogs are most at risk.
Some signs to look out for that may indicate a GDV include; restlessness, abdominal distension (significant 'pot bellied' appearance), anorexia, retching, salivating, collapse, pale gums, weakness, difficulty breathing and unfortunately sudden death.
Get your dog to your vet immediately, as a dog with a GDV will not survive without treatment.
While GDV is easy to diagnose, treatment often involves decompression and de-rotating surgery, which can be expensive and is not always successful.
Prevention can be as easy as a few lifestyle modifications, or alternatively a prophylactic gastropexy at the time of desexing.
Gastropexy is the creation of a permanent adhesion between the stomach and the abdominal wall and is highly effective in preventing the stomach from twisting, significantly reducing the incidence of GDV from approximately 25 per cent down to one per cent in large and giant breed dogs.
If done by keyhole surgery, it utilises very small incisions and causes minimal pain. It is a low risk procedure with minimal complications and can also be performed if your pet is already desexed.
Lifestyle adjustments include feeding two to three smaller meals a day rather than one big meal, using a feeding bowl that slows the pace of eating and allowing one to two hours of rest after a meal and before exercise.
Talk to your vet about prophylactic gastropexy.