Gastric torsion, also known as gastric dilatation with volvulus (GDV) or, colloquially, bloat, is one of the worst things that can happen to a dog. The syndrome occurs most often in older, large-breed dogs such as Great Danes and Labradors.
Dogs suffering from GDV suffer severe pain as their twisted stomachs fill with gas. They often try unsuccessfully to vomit. Their abdomens may distend (giving them the bloated appearance that earned the syndrome its nickname). The twisted stomach compromises blood flow through the great vessels of the abdomen, leading to shock. Treatment consists of emergency stabilization and surgery to correct the stomach’s position. Untreated GDV is almost always fatal.
I was aware that humans also are known to suffer gastric torsion — the syndrome supposedly is most common on Thanksgiving day when post-prandial part-time athletes go outside to toss footballs.
I had not, however, heard of the syndrome in an exotic animal until today.
The Lansing State Journal reports that a 10-year-old Red Panda (a species with a wild population that is considered vulnerable) at the Potter Park Zoo died of bloat during surgery.
The death is a setback for efforts to maintain genetic diversity in captive Red Pandas. It also serves as a sad lesson that the dreaded syndrome may be unfortunately common in many species.