Gastropexy: Surgery to Prevent Gastric Dilatation Volvulus

Learning that your pet needs surgery can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you are unsure of what the procedure entails. At Anicira, we work with pet parents to ensure you are well-informed before your pet’s surgery. Our veterinary team provides compassionate care before, during, and after surgery to ensure your pet is safe and comfortable.

What is gastropexy surgery?

A gastropexy is a surgical procedure performed on dogs to prevent gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), commonly known as torsion or bloat. Torsion/bloat is a life-threatening condition in which the stomach rotates, twisting off blood supply and trapping air and gases in the stomach. Because circulation to the stomach and spleen are cut off, the dog goes into shock and dies – usually within a matter of hours.

Why should my dog receive gastropexy surgery? Can a dog still get bloat after gastropexy?

Gastropexy is a highly effective procedure that significantly decreases the likelihood of your pet developing gastric dilatation and volvulus. While it is possible for your pet’s stomach to bloat, a gastropexy will prevent life-threatening twisting or torsion of the stomach.

Pre-Surgical Instructions

Admission Time – Bring your pet to Anicira at 7 am.
Pre-surgical exam – Your pet must be in good health and show no signs of sickness such as coughing, sneezing, or diarrhea.
Medical records – Please bring proof of rabies vaccination if you have not already provided this. If your cat or dog has not been previously vaccinated or lacks proof of vaccination, we will administer a rabies vaccine on the day of surgery. If you have not already sent your medical records, please bring all relevant medical records.

Feeding Instructions
Adult Dogs over 1 year Withhold food for all adult dogs after midnight the evening before surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.
Puppies under 1 year Feed a small meal (¼ of their typical breakfast) to all puppies on the morning of surgery. Please ensure water is available at all times.

Gastropexy Surgery

Before surgery, our veterinary team will perform a thorough pre-surgical examination to ensure your pet is a good candidate for anesthesia. It is strongly recommended that your pet receives pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure that no health concerns go undetected.

Your pet will be under general anesthesia. The surgical team will prepare the surgical site by shaving and then cleaning the area to remove bacteria and decrease risk of potential infection.

During the gastropexy procedure, the right side of the stomach is tacked to the right side of the abdominal wall in order to prevent shifting and twisting. A gastropexy is an outpatient procedure, which means your pet does not need to stay overnight.

Caring for Your Pet After Gastropexy

Anesthesia may take 24 to 48 hours to wear off.

  • Your pet may be groggy or whiny during this time.
  • Keep your pet confined in a secure, quiet, and comfortable space. We recommend a crate or a small room.
  • Isolate them from other pets and children while recovering.

Make sure your pet wears their Elizabethan Collar (E Collar / Cone)

  • Your pet’s surgical site will take 10 to 14 days to heal. During this period, they should wear an e-collar at all times.
  • Allowing your pet to lick their incision can lead to infection or dehiscence (opening of the incision).

Offer food & water after surgery

  • When your pet returns home, offer them a small amount of food and water of canned or moistened dry food (soak in a small amount of warm water for 5 minutes before feeding).
  • Anesthesia may cause nausea, so your pet may not be interested in food
  • If vomiting occurs, wait 12 hours before offering more food.
  • We recommend feeding small meals spread throughout the day for the first week.
  • Please separate your pet’s daily allotment of food into 3-5 meals.
  • If your pet refuses to eat, you may try offering a bland diet such as white rice and lean protein (for example, boiled chicken breast) while they regain a normal appetite.
  • Please do not feed your pet junk food, table scraps, or milk.
  • After the first week, you may switch to twice-daily feedings and can feed a mixture of kibble and moistened food.

Give all medications as directed

  • Your pet will be sent home with oral pain medication. Please follow the instructions on the label.
  • If possible, please give the pain medication with food. If your pet has no appetite, please ensure they still take the pain medication.
  • OTC pain relievers such as Tylenol and Advil are toxic to pets. Please do not give these to your pet.

Check surgical incision daily for the first week

  • Your pet’s surgical site will be healing for 10-14 days.
  • What you see on the day of surgery is what we consider normal
  • Monitor for increased redness, swelling, discharge or pulling apart of the incision.

Other shaved areas

  • Your pet may have shaved areas on one or more legs from where an IV catheter was placed, as well as under the tail for monitoring equipment during anesthesia.
  • These areas may be irritated or bruised. If your pet is excessively licking, please use a taste deterrent spray or e-collar to prevent self-trauma.
  • If your pet went home with a brightly colored wrap on their leg, this should be removed 30 minutes after returning home.

Limit your pet’s activity and keep them clean, dry, and warm for 10 days after surgery.

  • Ensure your pet is supervised around all potential hazards (including stairs)
  • Pets should be kept indoors so they can stay clean, dry, and warm.
  • Dogs should be walked outside on a leash to urinate and defecate. No off-leash activity during the entire recovery period.
  • No running, jumping, playing, swimming, or other strenuous activity.
  • Do not bathe your pet or have it groomed during the recovery period.

How long does it take to recover from gastropexy?

Typically, pets fully recover within 10-14 days of gastropexy surgery.

Possible minor complications

Complications from gastric dilatation volvulus surgery are rare. If your pet experiences these issues after surgery, please contact Anicira.

  • Redness, swelling, or discharge at the surgical site, which could be signs of infection
  • Dehiscence – both sides of the surgical site should be touching. Watch for any gapping.

Rare, but Serious Complications of Gastropexy Surgery

Gastric ulcers and/or Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining) – this could lead to bleeding from the stomach lining and/or vomiting

Please contact Anicira, your primary care veterinarian, or an emergency clinic if any of the following occur:

  • No urine passed for more than 24 hours
  • Pale gums
  • Severe pain, depression or weakness
  • Vomiting or Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Decreased appetite for more than 24 hours
  • Lethargy lasting more than 24 hours