GDV or bloat and the Great Dane

GDV or bloat and the Great Dane

Health & Safety

The Great Dane is a giant dog breed that is particularly tall and very eye catching, with a distinguished appearance and a lovely, kind personality. When you own a Great Dane – or any other giant breed for that matter – you have to take into account a range of special care considerations that are less acute or do not apply to smaller dog breeds – such as buying everything in giant size, and providing plenty of space!

Not everyone who has their heart set on owning a Great Dane has the space or budget for one, but they are nonetheless very popular amongst lovers of large and giant dog breeds. The Great Dane is the UK’s 73rd most popular dog breed out of a total of 241 different breeds and types, indicating that despite the demands of owning a huge dog of this type, they are still in much demand.

However, like many giant dog breeds, the Great Dane is one of the breeds most susceptible to developing GDV (gastric dilation volvulus) or bloat, an acute and potentially fatal digestive disorder that can develop quickly with no warning.

If you own a Great Dane or are considering buying one, it is important to understand the heightened risk factors for GDV in the Great Dane, and know how to spot the early symptoms of the onset of the condition.

In this article we will talk about bloat or GDV in the Great Dane in more detail, explain the breed’s risk factors, and share some tips on reducing them and spotting the symptoms in large and giant dog breeds. Read on to learn more.

What is bloat?

Bloat is the layman’s term given to a condition called “gastric dilation,” which means that the dog’s stomach fills with gas, dilating and becoming bloated and hard to the touch. This in turn causes the entrance and exit from the stomach to narrow so that the gas cannot escape.

A progression or complication of this is gastric dilation volvulus, in which the pressure of the gas causes the stomach itself to twist or rotate, cutting off the exit and entrance to the stomach entirely, and preventing it from rotating back into its correct position.

GDV or bloat is not a condition that will usually go away on its own or resolve itself, and the condition develops very quickly. A dog can go from being fine to displaying easy to miss or mild symptoms within just a couple of hours, and without immediate emergency intervention, bloat will often cause a very painful death.

However, identifying the symptoms of bloat or GDV and getting your dog to the vet immediately means that surgery can be performed to drain the gas from the stomach, and if necessary, correct the rotation of the stomach back to its normal position, allowing the entry and exit to open once again.

In cases of GDV, the vet may also elect to tack the inside of the stomach to the dog’s side when they perform this surgery, to prevent another rotation occurring again in the future.

Why are Great Danes at particular risk of bloat or GDV?

Very large and giant dog breeds are more prone to bloat than their smaller counterparts, and even compared to other giant breeds, the Great Dane has higher risk factors than most.

This is due to the Great Dane’s conformation – they have a chest cavity that viewed head on, is narrow compared to the rest of the dog’s build, but also deep, extending a long way back towards their hindquarters. Exactly why this increases the risk of bloat developing is not definitively known, but dogs with this type of build (like the Great Dane) present with more than their fair share of incidences of the condition.

The symptoms of bloat or GDV in the Great Dane

As mentioned, bloat or GDV is a very fast condition in terms of onset, and this is one of the main dangers because many dog owners feel that nothing can go that badly wrong in just a few hours of seeing initial symptoms if they just wait and see what happens.

However, GDV and bloat are acute and serious, and require prompt intervention in order to give the dog the best possible chances of recovery.

The symptoms of GDV or bloat in the Great Dane can be subtle, as well as being common with various other ailments too. However, knowing the increased risk factors for Great Danes and being vigilant to the first signs of a problem can help you to identify bloat in the early stages, and get help from your vet quickly.

Here are some of the symptoms of bloat or GDV in the Great Dane.

  • A swollen stomach.
  • A taut, hard stomach.
  • Signs of stomach discomfort or pain, such as pawing at the stomach or turning around to look at it.
  • Strange posture or stance due to discomfort.
  • Restlessness.
  • Excessive drooling.
  • Attempting to vomit without producing anything.
  • Weakness.
  • Fast, shallow breathing.
  • Pale mucous membranes.
  • An elevated heart rate.
  • Weakness and lethargy.
  • Collapse or inability to rise.

If you spot any of the above symptoms – bearing in mind that not all Great Danes with bloat will display all of them – call your vet immediately.

Reducing the risk of bloat or GDV in the Great Dane

Bloat and GDV tends to appear randomly with no warning, and it is not possible to fully safeguard against the risk and guarantee that it will not occur in any dog, regardless of the steps you take.

However, there are some things that you can do to reduce the risks of your Great Dane developing bloat or GDV, including:

  • Slowing down your dog’s eating by placing obstructions in their bowl that they have to eat around.
  • Splitting their meals into several smaller portions rather than feeding two large meals a day.
  • Leaving a reasonable period of time between feeding and exercising.
  • Not allowing your dog to gulp down huge quantities of water at a time, and not giving them overly cold water.
  • Keeping your dog’s food and water bowl at floor level – which is a reversal of advice given a decade or so ago, which stated that raising food bowls was a better choice. However, today, keeping your dog’s bowls on the ground is considered to reduce the risk factors for bloat.

Vigilance is important when it comes to bloat and giant breeds like the Great Dane – and while you cannot necessarily prevent the condition from developing, acting quickly to get your dog to the vet might well save their life.



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