Dr Felicity Educational Series – Twisted Stomach

By June 27, 2017Dr Felicity, Health
vet recommended dog food for superior nutrition

Dr Felicity’s Educational Series is a collection of posts dedicated to illnesses commonly associated with food. This post addresses twisted stomach in dogs.

The causes of a twisted stomach or Gastric Dilation Volvulus (GDV) in dogs are not fully understood although specific risk factors have been identified from veterinary case studies and reviews.

Chest depth/width ratio is highly correlated with risk of GDV. This means that animals with deep narrow chests are much more likely to develop GDV than those dogs with deep wide chests (1). Age and breed are also important factors, with dogs over 7 years of age being at double the risk of those aged 2-4 years. Purebred dogs are three times more likely to suffer the condition than cross-bred dogs and males carry double the risk. Animals considered significantly underweight were about three times as likely to develop GDV as those animals characterized as optimum weight (2).

The greatest food-related risk factor is a larger volume of food once daily. Dogs who ate one meal per day were almost twice as likely to develop GDV as those fed twice a day (3). The only food type that has been shown to increase the risk of GDV is dry food (4).

The rate of eating is also very important. Dogs classified as slow eaters had the lowest incidence whereas dogs classified as moderately fast eaters have about 2½ times the chance of developing GDV. Dogs classified as fast eaters have almost 5 times the chance of developing GDV compared with those characterized as slow eaters (2). Dogs that are known to eat very quickly should be fed at least two smaller meals per day, regardless of the type of food they are fed but particularly if they are fed dry food only.

There seems to be a direct correlation of the animal’s temperament relating to its tendency to develop GDV. Unhappy or fearful were about 2½ times as likely to develop GDV as those animals characterised as happy. Stress also appears to significantly increase the chance of the animal developing GDV (5).

Activity level is important with very active animals being twice as likely to develop GDV as those animals with a normal activity level. (2) There is also evidence to suggest that a large number of cases of GDV (61%) are associated with pre-existing inflammatory bowel disease. (6)

Dry food is the only food type that is linked to an increased risk of GDV in dogs. Even then, other risk factors are likely to be involved. It is highly unlikely that feeding 4Legs to any dog would be a significant risk factor leading to the development of GDV.



  1. https://www.acvs.org/small-animal/gastric-dilatation-volvulus
    Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus
  2. http://www.ava.com.au/sites/default/files/AVA_website/pdfs/NSW_Division/Gary%20Ellison%20-%20Gastric%20Dilatation%20Volvulus.pdfGastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV)Malathi Raghavan, Nita Glickman, George McCabe, Gary Lantz, and Lawrence T. Glickman (2004
  3.  Diet-Related Risk Factors for Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus in Dogs of High-Risk Breeds. Journal of the American Animal Hospital Association: May/June 2004, Vol. 40, No. 3, pp. 192-203.doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.5326/0400192
  4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16397192
  5. J Am Anim Hosp Assoc. 2006 Jan-Feb;42(1):28-36.
    The effect of ingredients in dry dog foods on the risk of gastric dilatation-volvulus in dogs.
  6. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/9138229
    Multiple risk factors for the gastric dilatation-volvulus syndrome in dogs: a practitioner/owner case-control study.
  7. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/8784718
    Gastric dilatation-volvulus in the dog with histological evidence of preexisting inflammatory bowel disease: a retrospective study of 23 cases.

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