Volvulus In Poodles

Know if your poodle is at risk of volvulus, and know how to handle it.

Know if your poodle is at risk of volvulus, and know how to handle it.

Volvulus is a potentially life-threatening condition that can affect many dog breeds, particularly larger breeds like the standard poodle. Knowing your own poodle's risk levels, symptoms, potential causes and treatments can help prevent, avoid and address this critical medical event.

What Is Volvulus?

There are several types of volvulus, but gastric volvulus is a component of bloat, a word no poodle parent wants to hear. Volvulus is a result of gastric dilatation -- the other component of bloat -- during which the stomach distends with gas and fluid. Volvulus twists and pulls the stomach opening and spleen out of position, closing part of the intestines and trapping air within the body. As this intensifies, blood circulation ceases, killing the tissues within a dog's stomach.

Who Is at Risk?

Volvulus can occur suddenly in an otherwise active, healthy dog in the prime of life. As large-breed dogs with deep chests, standard poodles are particularly susceptible to this potentially life-threatening medical emergency. Small dogs do not fall victim as often; the risk is lower for a miniature or toy poodle, including teacups, than for a larger breed poodle. However, any risk is enough to make it worth knowing signs and taking precautions.

Warning Signs

Volvulus and its accompanying gastric dilatation are collectively known as gastric dilatation and volvulus syndrome (GDV). Events preceding this may include a large meal, heavy exercise, or eating or drinking too much immediately before or after exercise. Signs include abdominal pain and swelling, constipation, diarrhea, fever, anxious and restless behavior, excessive drooling or labored breathing. If your standard poodle -- or any sized poodle -- is displaying these signs, bring him to the vet immediately, as time is of the essence in volvulis and GDV.


For larger breeds like standard poodles, it's especially important to take steps to prevent volvulus and its associated problems. First, split your poodle's meals into at least three equal-sized meals throughout the day, feeding at ground level rather than from a raised bowl. Next, avoid excess fats along with citric acid. Lastly, restrict water intake immediately before and after exercise. Whatever your poodle's size, these practices can help ensure your curly buddy doesn't get into this mess in the first place.

About the Author

Sarah Whitman's work has been featured in newspapers, magazines, websites and informational booklets. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in nutrition, and her projects feature nutrition and cooking, whole foods, supplements and organics. She also specializes in companion animal health, encouraging the use of whole foods, supplements and other holistic approaches to pet care.

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