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D2003-46

Dear Daisy Dog

We have a great Dane, a breed susceptible to bloating.

To minimize the risk of bloat, our veterinarian recommended that we not exercise Duke within two hours of eating, and that we keep his food bowl on the floor instead of on an elevated stand.

She also told us about a surgical procedure to prevent bloat. What do you think of it?

Daisy Responds

Bloat, also called gastric dilatation, occurs when the stomach fills with trapped air. In the more serious version of this disorder, called gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), the bloated stomach twists.

Blood flow is blocked at both ends, and the stomach wall begins to deteriorate. Unfortunately, even with immediate surgery, some dogs die.

Large, deep-chested breeds are most commonly affected.

The surgery your veterinarian described is prophylactic gastropexy. The surgeon tacks the stomach to the body wall so it can’t twist from its normal position. The stomach can still fill with air, but GDV won’t occur.

A report in the September 12, 2003, issue of Preventive Veterinary Medicine may help you decide about surgery. Researchers calculated the lifetime risk of GDV in great Danes to be 36.7 percent. Amazingly, prophylactic gastropexy reduced mortality 29.6-fold.

Other breeds evaluated in this study were the Irish setter, Rottweiler, standard poodle and Weimaraner. Prophylactic gastropexy also reduced their mortality from GDV, but not as substantially.

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