Emergencies in Veterinary Medicine

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus. 

One important aspect of being a pet owner is being well aware of potential emergencies that may occur in your pet and how to deal with them.

Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus, otherwise known as a GDV, is one of the most feared, life-threatening emergencies in veterinary medicine. In this condition, the stomach twists upon itself and distends with gas, creating extreme discomfort for the dog.  This condition is more likely to occur in deep-chested breeds such as Great Danes, St. Bernards and Irish Setters. Signs of this condition include:

  • Restlessness
  • Labored breathing
  • Vomiting, or attempting to vomit and being unsuccessful
  • Distended and bloated abdomen
  • Increased heat rate
  • Pale gums

If you at all suspect that your dog may have this condition, they need to be seen by a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY. Treatment is always surgical (once the patient has been stabilized) and is considered a very high-risk anesthesia. Prognosis is typically poor to fair, depending on how early the condition is caught and the patient’s health status prior to surgery.

There is good news though! There is a way to help prevent GDV. A gastropexy is a surgical procedure in which the stomach is “tacked down” to the abdominal wall. This can be conveniently done at the time of spay or neutering in “high risk” breeds.

In the case of an emergency, head straight to one of the 24-hour care facilities we have in our city. The emergency clinics in Edmonton include:

Guardian Veterinary Centre (5620 99St)


VetEmerg (12831 97 St NW)

Written by Jess Sirovyak, CCR/RAHT