Should my Dog’s Stomach be Tacked to Prevent Bloat?

Hello, I have a five-month-old Great Dane, our vet is pushing us to have his stomach tacked. This is a very costly procedure, is it...
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Hello,

I have a five-month-old Great Dane, our vet is pushing us to have his stomach tacked. This is a very costly procedure, is it absolutely necessary?

Leonita
Baltimore, MD

Routine stomach tacking (technically known as gastropexy) is recommended by some vets for young members of certain breeds of dogs. The purpose of this surgery is to prevent a syndrome called bloat.

Bloat is one of the most terrible things that can happen to a dog. The stomach becomes twisted inside the abdomen, and then hyper-extends with gas. Blood flow through the body is compromised. The dog suffers intense agony. Without emergency surgery almost all bloated dogs die within 12 hours. Large numbers of affected animals die even with surgery. The surgery (and several days of ICU care that must occur during recovery) is phenomenally expensive. The recovery from surgery is long and painful.

Any dog, regardless of breed, age, or gender can suffer from bloat at any time. However, the syndrome is most common in deep chested breeds of dogs such as Great Danes, Standard Poodles and Labrador Retrievers. Bloat is most common in older dogs. Females suffer from the syndrome more often than males. Dogs suffer bloat most often at night, and the syndrome tends to occur with increased frequency in dogs who have visited groomers, boarding facilities, or, egad, veterinarians earlier in the day.

Make no mistake: bloat is just about the worst thing that can happen to a dog. Stomach tacking does reduce (but not completely eliminate) the possibility of bloat.

This brings up a question that has caused a great deal of debate among veterinarians: should young healthy members of high risk breeds such as Great Danes and Standard Poodles undergo stomach tacking in order to prevent the syndrome?

No consensus has been reached on the matter. However, most vets I know (myself included) would vote no. Putting a dog through a major surgery in order to prevent a problem that may never happen is probably not in the dog’s best interest. Bloat is horrible, but thankfully it is not very common.

However, I should point out that there is plenty of room for argument on this matter. Plenty of reasonable, thoughtful vets may disagree with my position.

Ideally I would perform stomach tacking only on dogs who were certain to bloat in the future and not perform the procedure on those who wouldn’t. Of course, if I could predict the future in that way I wouldn’t waste my time performing surgeries. I’d pick a few stocks and lotto numbers and retire in luxury.

Leonita, I would not recommend tacking your dog’s stomach. But I think you should visit a few more vets and get third, fourth, and fifth opinions on the matter. Neither my word, nor the word of your original vet should be taken as absolute.

Photo: This X-ray is very bad news. It shows bloat. By Joel Mills.

7 thoughts on “Should my Dog’s Stomach be Tacked to Prevent Bloat?”

  1. Brian Lamberts

    I had a 3 year old male Standard Poodle die of GDV. All of my subsequent poodles (females) have been gastroplexy’d when they were spayed. GDV is horrible for the dog, and equally horrific for the loving owner. And a preventative gastroplexy is a lot more economical and humane than the emergency surgery and long recovery that’s required. with little in the way of a prognosis for recovery. It’s relatively easy, especially if the dog is anesthetized already for some other procedure. Your opinion is not necessarily the correct one, and I found the comment about being able to predict the future a bit flippant.

  2. I experienced bloat first hand with my last Newfoundland. Fortunately I was home and recognized the symptoms… but I never want to see a dog experience that again. I definitely plan to tack my new guys stomach when he’s old enough!

  3. Can you have the stomach of a dog tacked, even if you wish to keep them intact?? I’ve only heard of Gastroplexy when having a dog spayed/neutered. Also, what about on an already fixed dog – is tacking an option on them?

    Also, How high are greyhound GDV incidence rates currently (2017-2018ish)? Compared to 10 years ago?

  4. Hi, I was just reading about whether or not one should have a dog’s stomach tacked to prevent twisting of the stomach. I have a yellow Lab who is about to get spayed and was considering getting her stomach tacked as long as she was going into surgery. What do you think?? Especially after watching ‘Marley and Me’ :). Thank you for your time.

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