The case of Rust and the GDV

Gastric dilation volvulus (GDV) is a condition we see relatively frequently up in the King Country. This is the tale of Rust, a four year old Huntaway who made an incredible recovery from a twisted stomach!

Rust presented to the veterinary clinic on Saturday morning with a large, distended abdomen. He was very uncomfortable, had difficulty breathing and was in a state of ‘shock' with a heart rate over 180 beats per minute (normal is 80 to 120).

Rust had a purple tinge to his gums which indicated there was inadequate blood flow throughout his body. He was immediately placed on two intravenous drips to rapidly increase his blood pressure and assist the body in providing oxygen and blood supply to his vital organs. A tube was passed into his stomach and some gastric contents were removed to reduce the pressure exerted on his diaphragm, allowing him to breathe more easily.

Rust and Conor 

Rust was diagnosed with GDV, which is a condition that occurs when the stomach becomes distended either with food or gas and then rotates on its axis, meaning that gas and fluid cannot escape. When the stomach is twisted, the blood supply to the stomach is significantly impeded, and if decompression is not initiated rapidly the stomach wall can begin to die. The blood flow returning to the heart is reduced when the enlarged stomach presses on nearby vessels. Toxins from oxygen deprived tissues are also released into the blood stream.

Surgery is indicated for these cases to de-rotate the twisted stomach and attach it to the wall of the abdomen to prevent the twist from occurring again.

The exact cause is unknown, however risk factors include:

  • Large deep chested breeds
  • Dogs fed one large meal once daily
  • Rapid eating or drinking
  • Exercise after eating
  • Stress or nervous temperament

Death is the outcome in approximately one third of dogs, even with veterinary treatment; but luckily for Rust he was brought into the clinic and treated quickly before too much damage was done.