Preventive Care

Preventative Gastropexy

Bloat is a life threatening condition that we can see in dogs of any age. Gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), commonly called “bloat,” occurs when the dog’s stomach fills with gas and twists, cutting off blood and oxygen to the stomach. As the swollen stomach pushes against surrounding organs and large blood vessels, blood flow to the heart eventually stops. Without immediate treatment, shock and a painful death can occur within minutes or hours. This treatment typically involves emergency surgery and ICU hospitalization and can cost thousands of dollars. Studies show the chance of bloat increases with age and if a relative of the dog has had bloat. Eating and drinking rapidly and exercising right after eating are additional risk factors. Symptoms often include restlessness, pacing, expanded abdomen, painful abdomen, distress, excessive drooling, rapid breathing, dry heaving and shock. Because there is a preventive surgical procedure to avoid this risk, we strongly recommend it for all large and deep chested dogs.

While any dog can develop GDV, deep-chested breeds are most commonly affected, including Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, Saint Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish Setters, Gordon Setters, Standard Poodles, German Shepherds, Basset Hounds, Doberman Pinschers, Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Old English Sheepdogs and Labradors.  

Precautions to prevent bloat, including resting a dog after eating and swapping one large meal for smaller, frequent feedings, don’t always avert GDV. Emergency surgery isn’t always successful either, resulting in a 15 to 33 percent mortality rate, with emergency costs that are many times the cost of preventative gastropexy. (*1)  Studies show dogs with GDV that don’t undergo a gastropexy have recurrence rates of more than 70 percent and mortality rates of 80 percent. (*1)

Now, at VCA Ballston Spa Animal Hospital, Preventative Gastropexy can protect your dog from this life-threatening disease. Gastropexy surgically attaches the stomach to the abdominal wall, holding the stomach in its normal position and preventing the stomach from twisting. There is still the potential for dogs with gastropexy to bloat, however, this would be very rare and the results much less severe than without gastropexy.  

If you have a bloat-prone dog the surgery is well worth considering.  The Preventative Gastropexy surgery can easily be performed at the same time as a routine spay or neuter, or can be done separately. Please feel free to call with questions or discuss this procedure at your dog’s next examination.