Gastric Torsion & Your Dog

Gastric Torsion & Your Dog

What Is It?

Gastric torsion, bloat, torsion, and gastric dilatation-volvulus are all names given for the medical condition where a dog’s stomach becomes overstretched by excessive gas content.  In these cases, the dog becomes unable to naturally expel the buildup, and some cases the stomach can actually “flip” over and cut off all escape routes for the gas, trapping it inside.  Bloat can be fatal!  Unfortunately I experienced this first hand with one of my previous dogs, Onyx, who experienced bloat while staying at a kennel a few years ago and died.  One of our clients had a previous dog, an Akita named Borlo, that also passed away from GDV.

Can Your Dog Get It?

Although it is unlikely, smaller dogs do not usually experience bloat.  It is more likely to happen to larger, deep-chested breeds like Great Danes, Akitas, German Shepherds, Labradors, Boxers, St. Bernards and other dogs of similar body types.

How Can You Recognize It?

Although there are several possible signs of bloat or torsion, a dog suffering from it will not always show ALL of these signs, but here are a few…

Restlessness, excessive drooling, non-productive attempts to vomit, noticeable swelling of the stomach, pale gums, difficulty breathing, and the inability to lay down.

If you think your dog may be showing signs of these behaviors or others, take your dog to the vet immediately – THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.  It is also a good idea to call the vet on your way so that they may prepare for your arrival.

How Can You Prevent It?

  • There is a preventative surgery, called gastroplexy, that can reduce the risk of the stomach turning over onto itself.
  • Do not feed your dog less then 2 hours before heavy physical activity.  Also, do not feed your dog within 2 hours after heavy physical activity.
  • Feed several (at least 2) small meals, instead of 1 large meal per day.  Also make sure that your dog eats slow and does not “inhale” their food.
  • Limit your dog’s water intake before, after, and during exercise or play.
  • Give your dog a Gas-Ex before heavy physical activity; this will help prevent gasses from building up  in your dog’s stomach.
  • Feed your dog a high-quality dog food that will not immediately expand when it comes into contact with water.
  • Have your vet’s contact information readily available at all times.

Pictured above are Kira and Kevo, two Akita puppies that have had the preventative surgery.

Please understand that this entry provides a very basic outline of this condition.  Please contact your vet if you have any questions regarding this condition or any information contained in this article.

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