Gastropexy or “stomach tack” is done to prevent gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) in dogs. GDV occurs when the stomach fills with gas (dilatation) and rotates within the body (volvulus) preventing the normal flow of fluid and gas through the stomach. The stomach can become distended to the point that breathing and normal blood flow can become impaired. This condition is life threatening and will lead to rupture of the stomach and death if not surgically corrected.
Are some dogs prone to GDV?
The cause of GDV is not fully understood, but studies have shown that some dogs can be at greater risk of having a GDV. These include deep-chested dogs such as Great Danes, St. Bernards, Weimaraners, Gordon Setters, and Irish Setters. In addition, dogs are at greater risk of GDV if they are fed a single, large meal once a day or are related to dogs that have had a GDV.
How does a gastropexy prevent GDV?
During a gastropexy, the dog’s stomach is sutured to the abdominal wall in the normal anatomic position. This prevents the stomach from rotating if it were to fill with gas. While a gastropexy does not fully protect a dog from bloat, it greatly reduces the risk of fatal consequences.
When is a gastropexy surgery recommended?
We recommend having a gastropexy performed at the time of spay or neuter for dogs at risk of a GDV. If your dog is already spayed or neutered, then we recommend having the surgery performed as soon as possible after 6 months of age.
What should I expect on the day of my dog’s surgery?
On the day of surgery, we ask that you bring your dog to the clinic between 8-8:30AM. We do allow check-in the night before surgery if this is more feasible for your schedule. Please let us know at the time you schedule your dog’s surgery if you would like to drop your dog off the night before. Your dog should be fasted for at least 8 hours and no water after midnight the night before surgery. You should bring any medications that your dog is taking so that the medications can be continued while at the clinic. If your dog is on a prescription diet, please bring enough food for two meals. When you bring your dog for surgery, the office staff or a technician will have you sign an admissions form and provide a contact phone number for the day. It is very important that you be accessible via this phone number in case the veterinarian needs to contact you in regards to your dog.
Your dog will have a quick exam to check their vital signs when they arrive for surgery. If your dog requires any bloodwork prior to surgery, we will perform it at this time. Surgeries are typically performed in the late morning and early afternoon. Each pet has a customized anesthetic protocol designed for their specific breed and health condition. After your dog’s surgery is complete, a veterinarian or technician will call to let you know how the surgery went. All dogs undergoing a gastropexy surgery will be hospitalized overnight for monitoring.
How is my dog monitored during surgery?
The heart rate, respiratory rate, and SpO2 (or blood oxygenation level) is monitored during surgery. In addition, a veterinary technician and veterinarian are present at all times while your dog is anesthetized.
Is my dog given pain medication after the surgery?
Yes, your dog will receive an injection of pain medication during their surgery which will last for 24 hours. Your dog will also be sent home with an oral pain medication for you to give for several days after the surgery.
Are there visible stitches after a gastropexy?
Our veterinarians typically bury the skin sutures, which means that there will be no visible stitches after the gastropexy. In addition, the buried sutures will dissolve away on their own. They do not need to be removed.
What are the benefits of using the CO2 laser for the gastropexy surgery?
The surgical procedure while using the CO2 laser is the same as the procedure done with a scalpel blade except that the CO2 laser is used to make all of the incisions. The CO2 laser cauterizes blood vessels and nerves immediately, so there is less swelling, bleeding, and pain associated with the surgery.
What special care does my pet need after surgery?
Monitoring the abdominal incision for any swelling, discharge, or discoloration is important. The incision should improve in its appearance after your pet is discharged. If you notice any changes to the incision, please contact our clinic right away. In addition, your pet should return to their normal behaviors 24-48 hours after the surgery. If your pet is not eating or drinking, acting lethargic, or displaying abnormal behaviors, please contact the clinic right away.
After your dog’s surgery, you should limit their activity for 14 days. They can go outside on a leash to use the bathroom and can go for short leash walks. Running, jumping, and playing with any housemates should be prevented. These activities will put strain on the incision site and could lead to complications.
You should make sure that your dog doesn't lick at the incision site. If your dog does lick at the incision site, please contact the clinic so that we can supply you with an e-collar to prevent licking. If we notice that your dog is licking at the incision while they are hospitalized, we may send home an e-collar. E-collars should be left on at all times to prevent your dog from licking the incision. In addition, make sure that any housemates do not lick your dog’s incision site, otherwise you should keep the pets separate.
We recommend that all dogs should receive their food divided into at least two meals per day. Feeding a large, single meal puts your dog at greater risk for bloat even after a gastropexy. Feeding two or more smaller meals can help prevent bloat. In addition, your dog’s metabolism will be better maintained on two or more smaller meals per day than a single, large meal.