What Is Stomach Torsion in Dogs? Why It Happens, What Are Its Symptoms?

Dog Health

Gastric Dilatation Volvulus Syndrome is a life-threatening health problem that is mostly seen in large breed dogs and is not treated quickly. This problem, also called stomach torsion or stomach rotation; It is characterized by the enlargement and rotation of the stomach, filling it with gas, food, or liquid. When the stomach swells, it bends 180 to 360 degrees, putting pressure on the blood vessels and preventing blood from reaching the internal organs. Although the exact cause of gastric torsion is not known, it can be stated that various risk factors may trigger the formation of gastric torsion in dogs. What is stomach torsion in dogs, what are the symptoms of stomach torsion in dogs in our article about this disease that requires quick intervention? You can find answers to important questions such as:

What Is Stomach Torsion in Dogs?

Torsion, which can also be called stomach rotation in dogs, is a condition in which the stomach expands and turns. Emergency medical treatment is of critical importance in terms of eliminating this problem. Gastric torsion in dogs can basically be characterized as a two-stage problem. The stomach swells first and then returns.

The stomach becomes more bloated than its normal volume as a result of gas, liquid, or food, or a combination of these. Then the stomach rotates in the abdomen so that both its entrance and exit are closed. These two conditions can occur together or trigger the formation of each other. The risk of torsion increases markedly when swelling in the stomach occurs first. The swelling in the stomach causes pressure on the internal organs. Breathing becomes difficult and if large blood vessels are constricted, oxygen cannot reach the internal organs as blood flow is blocked. The stomach wall and spleen may undergo necrosis due to reduced blood flow, and toxins may enter the bloodstream. As a matter of fact, the mixing of toxins into the blood will mean a serious danger.

very large breed brown dog

Symptoms of Gastric Torsion in Dogs

Symptoms of stomach upset in dogs can be noticed quickly. Once the dog is in a perfectly healthy state, it can quickly deteriorate. The most common symptoms of stomach torsion include anxiety, restlessness, pain, drooling or foaming, attempts to vomit, abdominal swelling, abdominal hardness, pallor in the gums, and rapid breathing. It is essential to seek medical support as soon as symptoms of gastric torsion are noticed in dogs. Postponing this problem or ignoring the symptoms puts dogs’ lives in danger. Symptoms progress slowly in dogs when only gastric bloating, that is, gastric dilation, has not occurred yet. At this point, the need to go to the veterinarian continues. As mentioned before, when gastric dilatation occurs, the risk of torsion increases.

What Causes Stomach Torsion in Dogs?

“What causes stomach upset in dogs?” Although the answers to the question are not known exactly, it can be stated that there are common opinions that some risk factors increase the risk of gastric torsion.

  • Eating one meal a day, consuming the food quickly,
  • Eating a lot or drinking a lot of water
  • Excessive activity after eating
  • Being overly stressed
  • Food and water containers standing too high,
  • Variables such as being a large breed and wide deep chest structure are thought to cause stomach torsion in dogs.

Diarrhea in dogs is a serious risk in large breeds over 45 kilograms. For dogs weighing 45 kilograms or more, the risk of stomach rotation increases by 20%. Gastric dilatation without stomach rotation is more common in older small breed dogs.

Race is an important variable among the risk factors for gastric torsion in dogs. It is known that the risk of stomach torsion is higher in Great Dane, German Shepherd Dog, Boxer, Akita Inu, Basset Hounds, Irish Setter, Weimaraner and Saint Bernard breeds compared to other breeds.

giant breed short-haired dog

Treatment of Gastric Torsion in Dogs

Veterinarians should be contacted as soon as the symptoms of stomach upset are seen in dogs. It is imperative to reduce the pressure on the stomach wall and internal organs. Veterinarians can usually try to pass the gastric tube first. If it is not possible to pass a tube due to stomach rotation, it may be necessary to insert a large needle into the stomach in order to reduce the intra-gastric pressure. Intravenous fluids and emergency medications should be used if dogs are in shock due to stomach upset. Gastric torsion surgery is performed when the dog’s condition stabilizes.

The main purpose of gastric torsion surgery in dogs is to return the stomach to its normal position and to remove any tissues that have died in the stomach. During the operation, different techniques such as suturing the stomach wall to the abdominal wall (gastropexy) and opening the pyloric valves that control the outflow of nutrients in the stomach (pyloroplasty) can be applied. Depending on the dog’s condition, veterinarians will determine the most appropriate surgical technique or combination of techniques.

Can Diarrhea be Prevented in Dogs?

It is recommended to try simple but effective methods to prevent gastric torsion in dogs. Unless veterinarians make a special recommendation, food and water containers should not be placed too high, they should not be allowed to be overly active just before and immediately after meals, multiple meals should be offered throughout the day to prevent them from getting very hungry, and the amount of eating and drinking water should be kept under control.

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