Trigger, 3 year old, 86kg+ Great Dane
Trigger arrived late one night to our After Hours service after his owners found him mopping in the garden after tea, with a swollen belly and trying to vomit.
Trigger is a 3 year old Great Dane with a strong personality, luckily for him our super human vet and nurse emergency team managed to examine and Xray Trigger and diagnosed a very serious condition – Gastro-Dilation Volulus. This means that his stomach had distended with gas and rotated, causing blood supply to be cut off. It is very painful and life- threatening.
He weighed over 86kg, so treating Trigger was physically challenging for the team, as well as a fight against time to save him.
The team worked through the night to stabilise him and performed surgery to deflate the stomach and fix it back into its correct position.
He needed intensive care for 5 days afterwards but was very lucky to have been able to get treatment so quickly, that literally saved his life!
What is GDV?
In gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome, the stomach becomes massively distended with gas and fluid and may rotate around its axis, through 180 to 360 degrees, so that, among other complications, its blood supply is cut off.
It is an intensely painful condition. Unless successfully treated it leads to death within hours. It is a common condition in Great Danes and it has been estimated that 42% develop the condition during and 13% die of it. It appears to be a consequence of selecting for large size and a deep-chested conformation.
Affected dogs may appear depressed, restless or agitated and may show signs of pain, with an arched back; and distended abdomen. There may also be retching, unproductive vomiting, and collapse. If your dog shows any of these signs then it is essential to get them to the vet as an emergency.
At risk breeds for GDV are mainly those with tall, narrow chests. German Shepherd Dogs, Huntaways, standard Poodles, but also Labradors, and especially Great Danes. If you have an at-risk breed for GDV, it is worth considering a prophylactic gastropexy to prevent the stomach twisting. Gastropexy means permanently securing the stomach to something. It requires creating a permanent join between the stomach wall and the inside of the abdominal wall. It can be performed at the same time as neutering. After a gastropexy, a dilation of the stomach can still occur, but the life-threatening twist cannot.
Please remember to ask about prophylactic gastropexy if you have an at-risk dog. Every Great Dane should have a prophylactic gastropexy done. GDV is so common in this breed that not to do so puts them at enormous risk. It’s an easy procedure in the right hands, and could very easily save your dog’s life.