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GDV and Pace's story

We have recently seen an increased number of GDV cases so thought it was timely that we should let you know that we can help with this devastating condition by performing a preventative gastropexy on at risk dogs (i.e. those with a first degree relative that has had a GDV and large breed, deep chested dogs). Contact your nearest NCVC clinic for further information.

Several years ago one of our clients wrote this article (edited and statistics added by NCVets) about the loss of their Huntaway, Pace. This article is useful to share to increase awareness of identification and prevention of Gastric Torsion. RIP Pace.


Pace, a huntaway bitch died on 16 August 2012.  Her sire was Ben.

  • Ben DIED of gastric torsion AGED FIVE.
  • Pace DIED of gastric torsion AGED FIVE AND HALF.

This history is in line with what is known about Gastric Torsion.  It generally affects deep-chested dogs.

It is an inherited tendency.

The features of Gastric Torsion (what happens to the dog);

  • the stomach twists around the longitudinal axis of the digestive tract (facts about the direction and impact of the degree of rotation are easily accessible on the internet)
  • bloat

The outcomes for the dog are likely to be (but not limited to);

  • low blood pressure
  • loss of blood supply to the stomach
  • shock
  • decreased blood flow to the liver

If not treated quickly the pressure from the bloat can cause;

  • blood poisoning
  • peritonitis
  • toxic shock

Typically the stomach twists after the night time feed.

The morning of, or after the event, your dog may present with;

  • distension (looking bloated)
  • drooling
  • distress

This is an emergency situation requiring the urgent and immediate attention of a veterinarian at a surgical facility.

If the stomach is twisted and the tissues are being deprived of blood flow the stomach quickly starts to die. If treatment and surgery are given before stomach necrosis has occurred there is a 98% survival rate. If surgery is performed after gastric necrosis has begun, the survival rate is 66%.

Often owners get to the kennel to find their dog dead. The relates to how twisted the stomach is and thus how completely the blood supply has been cut off.

Pace died of a necrotic stomach (stomach tissue starved of oxygen and dead) the third day after her surgery.  

The surgery and post operative care will cost you upward of $2000


Gastropexy is a surgical operation where the stomach is attached to the abdominal wall – this operation will prevent the stomach twisting and for best outcomes needs to be undertaken while the dog is young – about 1 year of age as the dog is about fully grown. Dilation can still occur after pexy surgery but it should prevent further further twisting of the stomach.

Gastropexy is also performed with the surgery used to treat Gastric Torsion. 

Precautions that may help prevent bloat include feeding a small meal in the morning then main feed at night, instead of one big meal and not exercising immediately before or after a meal.

People involved in the sheep dog industry may want to consider their breeding programmes and exclude dogs with this history.  (Hard to do when the dogs are extremely talented.)


I knew the facts about the risk of Gastric Torsion and Paces history, I had the preventative surgery on the “I must get that done” list.

From the time I found Pace unwell, made the arrangements to get her to the vet and get her to the vet it was 45 minutes.  Pace was expertly cared for.  This approach was too late – despite the surgery and expert care delivered by the veterinarian team.  We then had to watch Pace, suffer the indignity of a needless death.  There has been plenty of time to think about that afterwards, the empty kennel, no bossy tart around the yard, no more pups, no mainstay huntaway to help with the following musters and no more dreams of winning a trial!

About the author

North Canterbury Vets are a mixed practice which deals with dairy cows, beef, sheep, deer, horses and alpacas as well as companion animals. Our team has an ethical focus to assist in developing and growing our clients' businesses and providing quality health care to ensure that their livestock and pets live healthy and productive lives.

Our Clinics

North Canterbury Veterinary Clinics operates four clinics throughout the Hurunui region.