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Gastric Torsion in a Dog: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment of a Gastric Torsion in a Dog

How to identify a dog's stomach torsion?

Torsion of the stomach in a dog is a condition that keeps the eyes of both veterinarians and owners of large and giant breed dogs.

It is an emergency that requires immediate veterinary attention.

If left untreated, the best friend ends up dying in great agony.

Mortality in animals under professional veterinary care is still very high, ranging from 20 to 45%.

Therefore, if you are the happy owner of a larger dog or you want to own such a dog - you should read this article.

From it you will learn what are the causes of stomach torsion, how to recognize it and how to protect your dog from torsion.

  • Dog breeds predisposed to gastric twisting
  • What is a gastric torsion in a dog?
  • Cause dog stomach torsion
  • Symptoms of gastric torsion in a dog
  • You suspect a turn - and what's next?
    • Stomach dilation / bloating
    • Twist combined with extension
    • What happens to your dog after surgery?
  • Why is the risk of complications and death of the dog so high?
  • How you can keep your dog from a stomach twist?

Dog breeds predisposed to gastric twisting

Which dogs are most at risk of gastric twisting?

Predisposed to gastric torsion are large and giant breeds.

The most frequently mentioned dog breeds are:

  • great dane,
  • St. Bernard,
  • Weimaraner,
  • Irish wolfhound,
  • Irish and Scottish Setter,
  • giant poodle,
  • basset,
  • doberman,
  • German Shepherd,
  • alaskan malamute,
  • Labrador,
  • rottweiler.

However, it is not said that only dogs of these breeds are at risk.

The disease can affect any dog ​​with a specific build, namely "deep chest ". This type of chest may disturb the alignment of the esophagus and stomach, making it difficult to deflect gases.

In addition to racial predisposition, a greater tendency to develop this disease occurs in:

  • male individuals,
  • dogs in old age,
  • malnourished,
  • dogs fed large amounts of food once a day,
  • individuals with a fast intestinal transit,
  • in highly stressed dogs.

What is a gastric torsion in a dog?

How the stomach twists?

The problem is actually not one but two. We distinguish between:

  •  stomach dilation / distension,
  • gastric twist with dilatation.

Dilation of the stomach is the expansion of the stomach by the accumulation of air, food, or anything else the dog has eaten in the stomach.

A stomach twist in a dog it is therefore also connected additionally with the rotation of the stomach around its axis and a change in anatomical position.

Cause dog stomach torsion

An excessive amount of gas, liquid and food accumulates in the stomach, and then due to pressure on the esophagus, its evacuation by vomiting is impossible.

There may be several reasons for this phenomenon:

  1. Swallowing air.
  2. Consuming one very large meal.
  3. Eating a large amount of food that has a tendency to ferment, thereby releasing large amounts of gas.
  4. Exercise after eating a large meal.
  5. Eating and drinking from elevated bowls, which is conducive to swallowing large amounts of air.
  6. Problems with intestinal obstruction and peristalsis.
  7. Genetic tendencies.
  8. Big stress.

Symptoms of gastric torsion in a dog

  • abdominal distension,
  • enlarging its outline and size.
  • the dog suddenly becomes lethargic,
  • reluctantly moves,
  • I'm very nervous,
  • Drooling and trying to vomit unsuccessfully.

The more experienced owner will certainly notice you as well dyspnoea, fast heartbeat and pallor of the mucous membranes.

You suspect a turn - and what's next?

Suspicion of gastric torsion

In such a situation, we pack the dog into the car as soon as possible and rush to the nearest veterinary clinic. Unfortunately, we are not able to help our pet alone.

It is necessary to take an x-ray to confirm our suspicions.

Then, after intravenous access and pre-anesthesia induction of the dog, an attempt is made to probe the stomach and its success or no further management is required.

Stomach dilation / bloating

If the stomach has only expanded without twisting it around its axis, probing, i.e. removing the contents remaining in it, is successful and the stomach becomes unloaded.

In this case, the dog receives a very large amount of intravenous fluids, medications to improve gastrointestinal motility, protective antibiotics and must remain in the clinic for observation, as there are frequent re-bloating or other complications.

Twist combined with extension

X-ray gastric torsion

This variant is much less optimistic - it is not possible to insert the probe into the stomach, which means that the stomach has dilated and turned around its axis at the same time.

In that case it is necessary immediate surgery.

Surgery for gastric twisting usually works like this:

  1. After opening the abdominal cavity and the stomach itself, it is emptied of its contents or excess gases are released.
  2. Then the stomach is "unscrewed", restoring its physiological position.
  3. The next step is to sew a fragment of its wall to the chest - this prevents twists in the future.

It is very common for the stomach to turn and pull the spleen with it. This causes blood stagnation in this organ and its enlargement to enormous size.

In this case, it is also necessary to remove the spleen during the procedure, as it becomes necrotic and is no longer able to fulfill its function.

Stomach reposition surgery

What Happens to Your Dog After Surgery?

Postoperative management consists in observing the dog for several hours in the clinic.

Intravenous administration of large amounts of fluids, drugs to improve peristalsis and antibiotics.

Already a few hours later, the dog can consume small amounts of water, and after that 12 hours we introduce the first meals - also gradually and in very small amounts.

Why is the risk of complications and death of the dog so high?

The main problem is blood circulation disorders.

A bloated, dilated stomach puts pressure on the main blood vessels, preventing blood from flowing freely in them, causing clots to form in them.

After medical intervention, the stomach returns to its normal size and physiological position, the large vessels are decompressed and blood clots are released into the general circulation.

This often causes an uprising thromboembolism and sudden death of the animal.

This is a very serious complication, against which there is no special protection.

How you can keep your dog from a stomach twist?

Firstly - we avoid large portions of food at once - we feed several times a day with small portions.

Secondly - we never take the dog for a walk and we do not encourage the dog to play immediately after the meal.

Thirdly - we avoid easily fermentable food, we try to soak dry food. It happens that after eating a large amount of dry food, it suddenly begins to swell in the dog's stomach and causes him to bloat.

These fairly simple rules in most cases help to prevent the dog from stomach twisting.

And if something goes wrong, we don't wait a moment and go to the nearest veterinary clinic - every minute counts.

You have questions about a dog's stomach torsion? You want to learn more about prevention and symptoms? Now add a comment under the article, I will try to write back as soon as possible.

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