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Is My Dog at Risk for Canine Bloat, Torsion, and GDV?

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Updated: April 20, 2017

The short answer to the question in the title is "yes"

But it is relative, and the "short answers" are often not the best.

While every dog owner should be aware of GDV, it is true that there are certain dogs - either because of their breed, lineage, general disposition, or possession of one or more of the other "predisposing factors"—who are at higher risk of suffering from it. If your dog fits any of these descriptions, be sure to read all of my GDV/Bloat articles and be extra alert. Again, what's most important here is to appreciate that any breed and any size of dog can suffer from GDV—so every dog owner should educate him or herself!

Tips for Dealing with Bloat:

  1. If your dog has a bloated stomach and is pacing or trying to vomit unsuccessfully, IMMEDIATELY bring your dog to the vet. While this may not be a life-threatening case of GDV/Bloat, these are always a serious combination of signs. If your regular veterinarian isn't open, please seek immediate veterinary attention at an Animal ER (Find an Animal ER). After your dog has been professionally evaluated and is in more stable condition come back here to learn more.
  2. Every dog owner should be aware of GDV.
  3. Any dog, regardless of breed or size, can suffer from GDV.
  4. Several factors can increase a dog’s risk of developing GDV.
  5. A gastropexy, or "pexy" for short, is a surgical procedure where the stomach is sutured and permanently anchored in a fixed position to prevent rotation and torsion.
Predisposed Breeds: The higher risk breeds tend to have "deeper" or "barrel shaped" chests, and they tend to be the larger breeds. The list below includes some of the dog breeds that are considered to be at increased risk for developing GDV. It is not an exhaustive list. You should also note that mixes containing these breeds are considered at increased risk for GDV, too. The list provided below is in alphabetical order and has no correlation to a breed's relative risk.

  • Basset Hound
  • Bernese Mountain Dog
  • Boxer
  • Doberman Pinscher
  • German Shepherd
  • Gordon Setter
  • Great Dane
  • Irish Setter
  • St. Bernard
  • Standard Poodle
  • Weimaraner

Risk Factors: Certain personality attributes or husbandry practices may lead to an increased risk, for any dog (regardless of breed), to suffer from GDV. Sadly, given the currently limited nature of many of the studies conducted on GDV, it's difficult to say with complete certainty which factors do and do not increase a dog's risk for developing GDV. There is certainly stronger supportive evidence for some factors than others. However, given the critical and rapid nature of this condition, I'd suggest that it's always best to err on the side of caution and try to avoid even those factors that may increase your dog's risk. *Note: The American Kennel Club's Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) has launched The Bloat Initiative, in an effort to improve education and research of GDV—so hopefully more and better information about this devastating condition will soon be known.

  • Having a parent or littermate with a history of GDV
  • Larger size (dogs over 100lbs are at increased risk)
  • Advancing age (the risk goes up as your dog ages)
  • A previous episode of GDV (*unless the "pexy" surgery has been performed)
  • Feeding one large meal per day
  • Nervous, anxious, aggressive, or otherwise fast eating
  • Feeding from an elevated bowl (this used to be thought to decrease risk, but may actually increase it)
  • Feeding dry food only
  • Exercising within an hour (or so) of eating, either before or after
  • Rapidly drinking large volumes of water following exercise (BTW: Drinking ice water does not cause bloat—so long as a dog drinks it slowly, like water of any temperature.)

If your dog is one of the predisposed breeds or has any of the other aforementioned risk factors, please be sure to speak with your veterinarian to discuss the steps you can take that might lower your dog’s overall risk of developing this devastating condition. Please also read my other articles on this important topic—Understanding Bloat, The Signs of GDV and Bloat in Dogs, and What Should I Do if My Dog Bloats?

I hope you've found this informative and easy to follow. Please share your thoughts, feedback, and any personal experiences with these conditions in the comments section below. Also, don't forget to share this information with your dog-owning friends and family. Hopefully they'll never need it, but they'll sure thank you for it if they do.

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Topics: Stomach Bloat, Torsion, Dog Emergency, GDV, Risks for GDV, Bloat, Gordon Setter, Standard Poodle, Basset Hound, Irish Setter, St. Bernard, Weimaraner, Great Dane, Boxers, Bernese Mountain Dog, Doberman Pinscher, German Shepherd, Blog

Please do not ask emergency or other specific medical questions about your pets in the blog comments. As an online informational resource, Preventive Vet is unable to and does not provide specific medical advice or counseling. A thorough physical exam, patient history, and an established veterinary-patient-client relationship is required to provide specific medical advice. If you are worried that your pet is having an emergency or if you have specific medical questions related to your pet’s current or chronic medical conditions, please contact or visit your veterinarian, an animal-specific poison control hotline, or your local emergency veterinary care center.

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