A three-year-old Great Dane with GVD
September 30th, 2011 is a night that won’t soon be forgotten by Margit Bull and her 3yr old Great Dane Shelby. The evening was like many others in the Bull household, Margit was playing her guitar and her two Great Danes were at her feet enjoying the music, or so it seemed. Shelby though present, was not herself, she was fidgiting and moving about trying to get comfortable. Soon she was attempting to vomit and just not producing any material. This is when Margit decided it was time to call the emergency service who that evening was Shelby’s regular clinic Riverside Small Animal Hospital. After a brief discussion and a 40 minute late night drive to the clinic Shelby was examined and radiographs revealed a dilated and twisted stomach; a true life threatening condition that occurs most frequently in large deep chested dogs.
Gastric Dilation and Volvulus (GDV) or in general terms bloat, is a rapidly fatal condition where the stomach becomes distended with gas and abnormal motility leads to twisting. Early in the condition the dog seems unsettled, attempts to vomit unsuccessfully, visible evidence of abdominal distension will soon follow. Internally there are changes in circulation, respiration and cardiac function occurring. The condition tends to progress rapidly and can be fatal within hours. The exact cause is not known but seems to be related to body type (large, deep chested), timing and volume of meals, gastrointestinal disease and perhaps even temperment.
Shelby was fortunate that Margit was knowlegable about the condition and wasted no time getting her to the clinic. Shelby was stabilized by providing IV fluid support for her pending shock, her stomach was partially deflated with a small trocar through her body wall and then a stomach tube was passed. Shelby was then taken to surgery which involved untwisting the stomach, observing for any damage to the stomach and other oragans due to loss circulation, and permanently suturing her stomach to her body wall (tacking or pexy). In the future if her stomach distends this should act as an anchor to prevent the life threatening twisting. This procedure is at times is done in at risk dogs as a preventative, in fact Margit’s other dog Jezabelle was ‘tacked’ at her spay (Shelby is a breeding female and not spayed).
Surgery was complete and Shelby was in recovery by 2am, just under 3 hours after her owner called the clinic. By 8am Shelby was standing at her kennel door waiting for a morning walk. Through the next 24 hours Shelby continued to improve and went home for the remainder of her recovery. She has been doing very well since her surgery; the hardest part of her recovery has been trying to keep her quiet!