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Dog Health 15.03.2021

Stomach torsion in dogs - recognising signs and providing first aid when gastritis

Sissi by Sissi, Sissi has been a blogger since 2014, got on the dog in 2018. Since then, she struts her 10000 steps through the world every day with Loki. The Beagdor (Labrador-Beagle mix) is a therapy dog for children and also accompanies her to schools. Secretly she fancies a French Bulldog as a second dog.

Gastric torsion in dogs

It's every dog owner's nightmare. Few organ diseases in dogs are as feared as gastric torsion. This fear is entirely justified, as the situation is life-threatening and can only be defused by swift veterinary intervention. In this article, we'll show you what gastric torsion actually is, how to treat it, and what options you have to take preventative action so that such an incident doesn't happen in the first place.

Basics and causes

First of all, it really can affect any dog. However, certain breeds have an increased risk. Large breeds account for 70 percent of all cases. Of these, the German Shepherd and Great Dane are disproportionately affected. Likewise, the risk increases with the age of the dog.

shutterstock.com / Grigorita Ko

What happens in a so-called "torsio ventriculi"? This technical term refers to a dilation or overexpansion of the stomach, which is associated with a rotation around the longitudinal and transverse axis. This rotational movement leads to an obstruction of the stomach openings. Since the spleen is very closely connected to the stomach, it is also affected in most cases. In addition, there is always a severe impairment of the respiratory tract and blood circulation. It is therefore an acute medical emergency which, if left untreated, will lead to the death of the dog.

The question of the causes cannot be answered unequivocally. Experts agree that the reasons are manifold and that there is no one specific trigger. However, it could be observed that often dogs were affected, which had a full stomach, because this is more susceptible to a rotation. Eating large amounts of food quickly also seems to promote the condition - as does rampaging around wildly immediately after eating. However, these are only indications, and there are enough known cases where none of these risk factors applied.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Correct and quick recognition of the symptoms creates the best conditions for saving the animal. The following symptoms indicate a torsio:

  • Brief, sudden sensation of pain, often accompanied by a yelp.
  • Cautious movements and restless pacing back and forth
  • Attempt to vomit. However, as the stomach is constricted, the attempt will remain.
  • Bloated abdomen, which becomes thick and hard.
  • Panting breathing and racing pulse.

The situation may become so extreme within an hour that the situation becomes life threatening. Quick action is now required. Going to a veterinary clinic is now the only alternative.

The vet can clear up any last doubts with the help of an X-ray and distinguish a torsio from a simple stomach overload.

Therapy and precaution to prevent gastric torsion

The first thing to do is to stabilize the dog's circulation with IV fluids. The vet will then try to remove gas from the bloated stomach. This is followed by a surgical procedure in which the stomach is repositioned. It is also important to empty the stomach completely. To prevent this scenario from happening again, it is possible to sew the stomach to the abdominal wall. After the operation, the dog will need further care, with further infusions administered and its condition constantly monitored. This is because the situation remains critical and requires close observation.

What can you do to prevent gastric torsion in your dog? Basically, there is no panacea here, as the exact causes have not yet been sufficiently researched. However, there are certain recommendations for action. In any case, vets recommend feeding small portions several times a day and preventing excessive running around after eating, as this is considered one of the main risk factors.

Dog first aid can save lives. Your vet can show you ways to apply it yourself.

shutterstock.com / Monika Chodak
Banner: shutterstock.com / Christian Mueller
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