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Stomach Tacking in Dogs: Is Gastropexy Good for Preventing Bloat? (Vet Answer)

Written by: Dr. Samantha Devine DVM (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on May 21, 2024 by Dogster Team

stress great dane

Stomach Tacking in Dogs: Is Gastropexy Good for Preventing Bloat? (Vet Answer)


Dr. Samantha Devine  Photo


Dr. Samantha Devine

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You have a Great Dane, and your veterinarian suggests having a gastropexy performed when they are neutered to help prevent bloat. But what is this procedure, and does it actually make a difference in preventing bloat?

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What Is Bloat?

Bloat is a condition in which the stomach fills with gas. Going a step further, your dog could develop gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). With this life-threatening condition, your dog’s stomach fills with air and twists. Material like food and gas can’t enter or exit the stomach, and it can rapidly become damaged. In some cases, the spleen is also affected.

Bloat can be uncomfortable itself, but if it progresses to a GDV, it’s downright dangerous. Dogs can die within minutes to hours.

White Poodle check by vet
Image Credit: Baronb, Shutterstock

What Is a Gastropexy?

A gastropexy is also referred to as stomach tacking. The stomach is sewn to the body wall to reduce the possibility of it filling with air, food, or fluid and twisting.

There are several gastropexy procedures, including:
  • Circumcostal gastropexy
  • Belt loop gastropexy
  • Muscle flap gastropexy
  • Incisional gastropexy

Can a Gastropexy Prevent Bloat?

A gastropexy does not completely eliminate the chances of a GDV occurring, but it does significantly reduce the risk. In some breeds, a prophylactic gastropexy can minimize the possibility of dying from bloat by a factor of 30.

In dogs that have developed GDV and undergo surgery, an incisional gastropexy done after correcting the stomach’s position reduced the rate of recurrent GDV from 80% to under 5%. For some dogs, gastropexy stands a good chance of preventing bloat and most importantly, GDV. Prophylactic gastropexy can reduce the risk of bloat in Great Danes 29.6-fold.

If a dog is highly likely to develop GDV in their life, it may be best to have a gastropexy performed. Great Danes are estimated to have a 36% chance of developing a GDV in their lifetime, and dogs with a close relative that had a GDV may have a 63% higher risk of developing GDV. In these cases, a prophylactic gastropexy may save their lives.

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Potential Complications of Gastropexy Procedures

While a gastropexy can be a life-saving procedure, it is not without risk.

The potential complications of a gastropexy include:
  • Stomach perforation
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Gastric retention
  • Tissue necrosis

Healing from a gastropexy takes time. Some vets can perform the procedure laparoscopically, so the incision is smaller. Anesthesia often makes pets nauseated, but the stomach shouldn’t be moving just after it has been sutured in place, such as in the case of vomiting. To combat this, many vets give the dog anti-nausea medication, such as Cerenia (maropitant), to reduce the possible stresses on the stomach.

Vet checking a Weimaraner
Image Credit: Nejron Photo, Shutterstock

Other Factors That Decrease the Risk of Bloat

You can decrease the risk of your dog bloating by reducing several potentially harmful behaviors:
  • Feed your dog two or more (appropriately portioned) meals each day.
  • Give canned dog food with your dog’s meals.
  • Help them maintain an ideal body weight.
  • Slow your dog’s eating.
  • Reduce stress or anxiety for your dog

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the downsides of gastropexy in dogs?

The surgery can be challenging for veterinarians, especially if the dog is deep-chested. They run the risk of wound dehiscence or sepsis, particularly if the stomach or intestines are perforated. The suture can also fail. Some dogs have the procedure but are too active, and the suture breaks. You’ll need to keep your dog quiet and calm during their post-operative recovery time.

Do all dogs need a gastropexy?

All dogs do not need a gastropexy. Your vet can help you decide if one is right for your dog, but it’s usually only performed as a prophylactic procedure in large, at-risk breeds.

  • Great Danes
  • Rottweilers
  • Standard Poodles
  • Irish Setters
  • Weimaraners

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A gastropexy can reduce the risk of bloat or GDV in high-risk dog breeds. The surgery could fail, though, and there are potential complications, such as infection and dehiscence. Your vet can help you decide if a gastropexy is suitable for your dog.

Featured Image Credit: Elle Ocon, Shutterstock

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