CHF Webinar on GDV

Photo by Verena von Eichborn

The SDCA has supported the Canine Health Foundation’s Bloat Initiative for years. On March 24, a webinar covered much of what they have learned. If you missed it, Health & Genetics Committee member Mary Ann Rose, MD, wrote a summary of it below. If you want to listen to it yourself, the webinars are archived here.

Miranda Levin asked me if she could repost this write-up regarding the webinar on GDV (Bloat) sponsored by the AKC Canine Health Foundation after seeing it on Facebook. I would only add that I am an MD, not a veterinarian, and two of my points are my own ideas—that the lengthening of the gastrohepatic ligaments could represent a positive adaptation in a running hound, and that we might be able to predict bloat predisposition by following inflammatory markers in the serum. That being said, everything else came directly from the presentation. MAR

Did anyone watch the bloat seminar tonight? I did, and was a little disappointed that there wasn’t a lot of new material presented. But I did take home a couple of messages:

(1) First, that deep-chested, bloat-prone dogs have longer gastrohepatic ligaments (the ligaments attaching the stomach to the liver), which may predispose them to torsion of the stomach and spleen. But what to do about that? It may be that those longer ligaments also allow better expansion of the heart and lungs due to the diaphragm being able to extend farther down, thus allowing better speed and stamina. It wouldn’t be the first time an adaptation has both positive and negative effects—humans are prone to sleep apnea because the trachea narrowed, allowing the vocal cords to oppose, making speech possible. But also making airway obstruction a risk. Primates grunt and don’t talk—and don’t get sleep apnea. Same with sickle cell trait—sickle cell trait protects against malaria, but when it’s homozygous, the disease is awful. Interesting to think about.

(2). In Danes that bloat, there was a study looking at biopsying the small intestine at the time of surgery. Interestingly, many Danes that bloated had signs of inflammatory bowel disease on pathology. Could we look at C reactive protein (an inflammatory marker), perhaps, as an indicator of chronic inflammation/bloat predilection?

(3.). I had hoped to hear more research on the gastric biome. We used to think stomach acid killed bacteria. It doesn’t. There should be some promising REAL research into dietary effects. Right now it’s all hearsay.

(4.) The veterinarian presenting basically recommended doing gastropexies on all bloat-prone breeds. While the procedure is very effective in preventing torsion, then breeders will never know if their line is prone to bloat. This is worrisome since from an epidemiological standpoint, there IS a genetic component. Do we save our own dogs or save the breed as a whole?

(5). Data was presented that in the US (I think), 20% of dogs who bloat are put down right in the ER, the main reason being cost of surgery. Other reasons being age and current quality of life. In Australia, 38% of dogs are euthanized in the ER. Whereas approximately 90% of dogs actually survive the surgery, with about 10% succumbing to post-op complications. The hope was stated that with increasing numbers of people (including yours truly) buying veterinary insurance, those immediate euthanasia numbers will decrease.

(6). Don’t try to tube your dog yourself. “Bloat kits” are outmoded and dangerous. Get the dog in the car and get to the nearest ER as fast as you can.

(7). There is no evidence that H2 blockers, such as Zantac or Pepcid, prevent bloat, or help if it’s happening. The pills won’t reach the stomach, where they are absorbed. Again, if you think your dog is bloating, load up and GO.

Mary Ann Rose, MD

The webinar description:

Date: Wednesday, March 24, 2021
Speaker: Elizabeth Rozanski, DVM, DACVIM (SAIM), DACVECC

Topic: GDV – What We Know, And What We Wish We Knew!
Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), or bloat, is a common condition in large and giant breed dogs with an unacceptably high morbidity and mortality rate. Due to the importance of GDV in many dog breeds, several previous studies have investigated potential risk factors for the development of GDV. It is known that there is no single cause for GDV, rather its occurrence is multifactorial, with both genetic and environmental factors contributing to the condition. Understanding what causes GDV allows us to intervene to prevent the disease from occurring.

In the webinar Dr. Rozanski provided updates on our current knowledge and understanding about GDV in dogs. Her discussion included:

  • What is known about the genetic aspects of GDV
  • The pathophysiology and treatment of GDV
  • Why some dogs who develop GDV do poorly
  • Preventative measures including surgical gastropexy
  • Our current challenges with GDV in dogs, ongoing research efforts, and possible targets.

Previous webinars are available on demand here.