Are you worried about your Great Dane getting bloat and considering having their stomach tacked? Bloat is a very scary topic for any family to consider, but it’s worth looking into any preventative options upfront.
A prophylactic gastropexy is generally recommended by veterinarians for Great Danes due to their higher rate of occurrence for experiencing bloat. The surgery is best performed in conjunction with a spay, neuter, or other abdominal operation to reduce the risks of performing the operation.
There are many pros and cons in doing this surgery. There are risks with anesthesia, healing time that your dog has to go through, and a slight chance of the procedure not working. Keep reading to learn more about this procedure!
What is bloat?
The medical term for bloat is “gastric dilatation and volvulus”. It’s also referred to as GDV for short.
This is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach fills with air (dilation) and/or twist upon itself (volvulus). Unfortunately, bloat is more common amongst large deep-chested dog breeds, including Great Danes.
If this happens, you should take your Great Dane to a vet right away as this condition requires veterinary care in every case.
There is no successful at-home treatment for bloat.
It is very important that you know what signs to look for in your Great Dane so that you can notice if your dog has bloat. The earlier you notice these signs, the better the outcome. Not all Great Danes will have a bloated appearance, especially early on.
The operational fix: Gastropexy
A gastropexy is a surgical procedure that tacks the stomach in place to prevent it from flipping. There are a few different ways that this can be done, but the most common is an incisional gastropexy.
Your vet will make a small incision about 2 inches into the first layer of the stomach. They then make an incision of about the same length in your dog’s body wall. They will then suture the two-incision together. After a few weeks, these two incisions will grow together, causing the stomach to stay in place.
Large specialty hospitals that have board-certified surgeons may be able to do this type of procedure laparoscopically. This would cause your dog to have a smaller incision and faster recovery than a traditional procedure.
If your Great Dane has bloat, your vet will do an emergency gastropexy to flip your dog’s stomach back over and tack it to the body wall so that it cannot flip over.
Many people elect to have this procedure done when their Great Dane is also having another procedure done to reduce cost and the likelihood of complications.
This is commonly done along with a spay or neuter. Also, if your Great Dane needs another abdominal procedure such as a foreign body removal, splenectomy, or C-section, your vet can also perform a gastropexy.
gastropexy healing time
The largest factor for healing time for a gastropexy will depend upon when it was performed.
If the procedure is performed in a preventative fashion i.e. before the dog experiences bloat, you can expect them to heal faster than if it was performed in an emergency operation.
When performed preventatively, it is referred to as a “prophylactic gastropexy”.
Healing from a prophylactic gastropexy has the same healing time as most other elective procedures of only a few weeks.
After about two weeks, your dog can start to return to their normal activity. Usually, your vet will send your Great Dane home with a cone collar to prevent them from removing and stitches and allow the incision site to heal.
After two weeks, any external stitches will be removed, and your Great Dane can return to normal.
As the name entails, an emergency gastropexy is performed in an emergency situation when your Great Dane has already experienced bloat.
Your vet will do surgery to flip their stomach back into the correct position and tack their stomach in place. Since many times your Great Dane is also very sick when they come in for this procedure, it can take longer for them to recover.
Many of these dogs will spend a few days in the vet hospital receiving around the clock care. These patients will need to be fed small frequent meals while their stomach heals, and the gastropexy is allowed to heal.
The normal recovery time for this scenario can be anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks.
Can a gastropexy come undone?
Unfortunately, yes, a gastropexy can come undone!
While this is considered rare, the occurrence of bloat after a gastropexy is still about 5%.
The reoccurrence can differ based on what type of procedure was done to tack the stomach down and as well as the experience of the surgeon. While there is a slight chance that the surgery can fail, the cost and prognosis of treating bloat outweigh the risk.
All surgeries come with some risk, and a gastropexy is no different. However, performing the operation while your Great Dane is younger and healthier will help to reduce its risk. Most younger dogs have a quicker recovery and less likely to have other diseases that could make anesthesia riskier.
How much does it cost to tack a Great Dane’s stomach?
The cost of a gastropexy procedure depends on where you have it done and how your vet does the surgery.
There are large specialty hospitals that can do this surgery laparoscopically. This approach is less invasive meaning that it can often heal faster, however, it is a little bit more expensive. This type of procedure can cost $1,000 or more.
However, if your regular vet does it at the time of a spay or other abdominal surgery, it may only cost an additional $200 to $500.
Discuss with your vet your concerns with gastropexy in your Great Dane, and they will be able to get you an estimate of the cost of this type of procedure.
How do you know if your Great Dane has a flipped stomach?
There are many common signs and symptoms that you would see that would indicate that your Great Dane may have bloat.
Common signs that your Great Dane may have bloat include:
- Enlarged abdomen: The most common sign that vets see in dogs who have bloat will be a hard-distended abdomen. Your dog’s abdomen is slowly increasing in size and can become bloated in just over a few hours. This can be very hard to see if your dog is very hairy or overweight. If your dog is lean with short hair, these signs can be very noticeable. The way to look for bloating is to look right behind your dog’s rib cage on the right side. Also, if you thumb the abdomen, it will feel like you just thumbed a full air balloon. If you notice these signs, take your dog to the closest veterinarian as soon as possible.
- Retching: If your dog is trying to vomit, but nothing is coming out, this can be a sign of bloat. A dog with bloat tries to throw up a lot. This is a way for them to try to move the stomach around.
- Salivation: Bloated dogs will always be drooling. Your dog’s saliva cannot reach the stomach, so they end up producing a lot of drool.
- Restlessness: Bloated dogs will be very painful and uncomfortable. When your dog’s abdomen is very painful, they may have trouble laying down and getting comfortable. They will also be very restless. Restlessness is one of the first signs seen with bloat. You may even notice this before your dog’s stomach starts to become distended. As soon as you notice this, see your vet for care or at least monitor your dog very closely for stomach distention.
- Whining if the belly is pressed due to pain: Dogs who are bloated with be very painful. When you press on their stomach, they will whine in pain.
If you notice any of these signs in your dog, it is best to take them to the vet. Many times, bloat must be treated by your vet for your dog to survive.
Other ways to help prevent bloat in your Great Dane
Although bloat is not fully understood, there are several approaches that are believed to also help prevent bloat.
These are a few tips to help prevent your dog from bloating.
- Limit exercise after feeding: After your dog eats, allow your dog to rest for about an hour. By resting, you will make sure they fully digest their food.
- Feed multiple meals: Feed your Great Dane multiple (2-3) meals throughout the day instead of one large meal. This allows their stomach to focus on digesting smaller amounts of food and prevents them from trying to eat extremely fast.
- Use slow feeders: If you find that your Great Dane eats their meals extremely fast then you may want to consider getting them a slow feeder. This forces them to eat slower by making their food harder to reach.
Even if your Great Dane has had a gastropexy performed, these are still considered good general health measures so there’s certainly no harm in following them!
Final thoughts on gastropexies
Bloat in a Great Dane can be a very severe and life-threatening condition. If your dog does have bloat, they should see a vet right away.
There are many things that you can do to prevent bloat in your Great Dane. A prophylactic gastropexy is one of the best things that you can do to help keep your dog from bloating.
There are also a few lifestyle modifications that you can try to help keep your Great Dane from developing bloat and living and a long and healthy life.