Bloat in dogs is frequently a serious problem. It's a constant worry for owners of deep-chested dogs like Great Danes, Labradors, and Weimaraners. Gastric dilatation and volvulus are the last things any pet parent wants to think about. Today, our Stuart vets discuss gastropexy in dogs, how to spot the signs, and what to do.
What is gastropexy?
Gastropexy is a surgery used to prevent gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV),. GDV is more commonly known also known as bloat, and the surgery is mainly for large-breed dogs. It can be done prophylactically (as a precaution in a healthy dog predisposed to this condition) or as part of the surgical management of GDV.
What is GDV?
GDV is a potentially fatal condition most commonly seen in deep-chested, large-breed dogs. The breeds most commonly affected include Great Danes, German Shepherds, Standard Poodles, Basset Hounds, Weimaraners, and Irish Setters.
GDV swells the stomach with gas and/or fluid and twists on itself, preventing said gas/fluid from escaping. The pressure in the stomach then rises, constricting blood flow to the stomach tissues. GDV can be fatal if not treated immediately because of these blood supply disruptions.
How does a gastropexy prevent GDV?
During gastropexy surgery, the veterinarian 'tacks' the stomach to the right side of the body. This will keep the stomach in place and prevent it from twisting. Vets can perform gastropexy using several surgical techniques, with the most common technique involving making an incision through the stomach's outer layer and a similar incision on the inside where the stomach will be located.
Gastropexies can be performed laparoscopically (via small incisions in the body with instruments and a camera) or endoscopically (using a camera and instruments inserted down the esophagus and into the stomach). A gastropexy performed laparoscopically or endoscopically is less invasive, but rare, because this equipment is typically only available at specialty hospitals.
Why might my vet recommend a gastropexy?
Two primary signs might influence your vet's decision:
Prophylactic gastropexy: Prophylactic gastropexy is most commonly advised in Great Danes, but it should be considered in any high-risk breed. This surgery is frequently performed on young dogs, most often when they are spayed or neutered.
Gastric dilatation and volvulus: GDV in dogs requires emergency surgery to untwist the stomach. Once the stomach has returned to its normal position, vets perform a gastropexy to secure it in place and prevent a recurrence. The risk of recurrence is reduced from 55% to 4% as a result.
Is there any post-operative care required after gastropexy?
With a prophylactic gastropexy, no additional post-operative care is required beyond what's required for a routine spay or neuter. For healing, dogs should be kept calm for seven days after surgery, and they should avoid running and jumping. A vet will likely give your dog pain medication, which must be given exactly as prescribed.
After a prophylactic gastropexy, most dogs will be hospitalized for several days before being released. A prescription diet and/or medication to protect the gastrointestinal tract may be required. Your vet will also likely recommend your dog avoid running, jumping, or any other extraneous activity.
Note: Services suggested in this post may not be available at Animal Care Extraordinaire. We do not currently perfomr gastropexy but we are happy to refer you to the nearest emergency veterinarian or surgical specialist.