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Big dog ate too fast and too much resulting in a life-threatening condition

Feeding a dog

Feeding a dog. Photo: Stock image in the public domain.

This is the story of a big dog, Bert, a six-year-old Newfoundland who was happy, docile and friendly until he ate a big meal too quickly which resulted in him suffering from a life-threatening condition called Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV). He had to be taken into surgery. He was retching and in distress. He was found to have a distended, gassy abdomen and needed an operation to untwist his stomach. Sometimes the condition can be fatal. This was a genuine emergency that occurred out of the blue. So, what is GDV?

It is serious. The stomach twists and starts to fill with gas which can cause more bloat and shock. Symptoms can come on suddenly. They can get worse very quickly.

These are predisposing factors:

  • Large dogs with deep chests such as great Danes, German shepherds and greyhounds are most at risk. Other situations which can bring this condition on are:
  • Vigorous exercise or travelling in a car after a meal can expose a dog to are a higher risk of this disease;
  • When a dog eats quickly and gulping air at the same time there is an increased chance of GDV. It is better to feed several small meals and a mixture of wet and dry food. If a dog gulps their food, it is better to use a slow feeding bowl or scatter feeding;
  • Earlier advice was to feed a dog from a raised bowl but this has now been shown to increase the risk of GDV. Dog should feed from the floor;
  • Drinking a lot of water in one go can also be problematic. It is better for a dog to drink little and often;
  • Dogs that are nervous and excitable are predisposed to developing this condition.

GDV it is described as a very serious condition and a dog must be treated immediately. The surgery is tricky and there can be complications post-surgery. It may happen again after surgery during which time their owner should watch out for a lack of appetite and low energy plus vomiting. And of course, another episode of GDV.

In addition to surgery veterinarians will use pain relief and attempt to reduce bloat (reduce some of the gas in the dog’s stomach) before the operation. Dogs with GDV tend to go into shock and develop low blood pressure. They are put on a drip to keep blood pressure up. X-rays and scans are used to confirm the condition.

My thanks to ‘Vet Speak’ on the website and


Margaret Peacock, 69.
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