Stomach torsion in dogs: our veterinarian explains

You’ve probably heard of a dog’s stomach twist, particularly if your dog belongs to fairly large lawns. Now you must be wondering what actually is a gastric torsion? How is this and, more importantly, how am I supposed to behave?

Because is? Torsion of the stomach in dogs, known technically as torsio ventriculi, is, as the name suggests, the rotation of the stomach around its own axis. The rotation ratio can vary a lot. In any case, however, gastric torsion is always an absolutely life-threatening and time-sensitive emergency.

What is gastric torsion in dogs and how does it happen?

There are some points that, from understanding with the literature, can promote gastric torsion in dogs (I will address once I avoid them below), but first I would like to talk about what happens with this gastric torsion and what symptoms to look out for.

In the case of torsio ventricle, gas accumulates and the stomach rotates around its own longitudinal and/or transverse axis for reasons that, unfortunately, are still not fully understood. Both the entrance and exit of the stomach are closed. You have to imagine it as if you were twisting a balloon into a towel.

The entire contents of the stomach, not even provisions, liquids or gases, can be transported into the gut. However, the dog cannot provide comfort by vomiting either, although it tries. Digestion and possibly leavening processes continue without the stomach being able to empty in any direction.

Once a result, the stomach continues to expand. The stomach wall is greatly stretched and pressure is exerted on the surrounding structures. Among other things, this causes severe pain and breathing problems. Gas in the stomach also compresses the large vein that carries blood from the body back to the heart.

This leads to a drop in blood pressure, massive circulatory problems up to shock and lack of blood and oxygen supply to the organs and tissues. Due to the location of the opaque close to the stomach, in some cases the opaque also moves and rotates, which further worsens the circulatory situation.

Due to the rotation, however, not only the organs (ie the stomach and partially also the opaque) but also the associated vessels are rotated and therefore closed and there is an additional shortage of supply to the tissue. Tissues that receive little oxygen die very quickly and irreparable damage and even perforation of the stomach wall can occur.

All of this goes to show how quickly a twisted stomach can reach a critical, life-threatening state. Quick action by both the owner and the veterinary team is therefore important.

Once I recognize a twisted stomach in a dog, you might be wondering?

This is not that difficult and in case of uncertainty you should always contact your veterinarian. The X-ray image is clear in gastric torsion and gassing. The symptoms you are likely to see are as follows:

Your dog is showing clear signs of discomfort and the stomach space (at the end of the costal circle) is full and often feels like a balloon. Your dog may drool profusely and attempts to vomit are unsuccessful. But beware: if rain or food has been ingested, it can still be regurgitated out of the esophagus or back into the mouth.

This is called regurgitation. Unlike vomiting, the lining remains unchanged during regurgitation and appears immediately following ingestion. According to some studies, large amounts of food, playing and playing after eating and belonging to large and deep chested breeds can promote the development of gastric torsion.

However, stomach torsion also occurs without such previous stresses and sometimes at night. Unfortunately, there is no reliable protection against stomach torsion. Therefore, you should contact your veterinarian immediately if your darling feels unwell, makes choking motions without being able to vomit, and/or chokes in the stomach space.

Gastric degassing and repositioning should be done as soon as possible. Your dog may also experience similar symptoms with non-torsional gastric gas.

However, since measures must be taken here just as quickly to ease the pressure of the stomach wall and surrounding structures, stabilize the circulatory system and prevent the development of a stomach twist, the distinction between the two diseases is not so relevant to you in the first place.

How does the veterinarian diagnose gastric torsion in dogs?

Depending on your pet’s condition, your veterinarian will take an X-ray and initiate the first measures to stabilize the circulation. The order depends on the seriousness of the symptoms.

Since torsion is a very time-sensitive requirement and every second counts when it happens, your veterinarian will likely not use many words to explain but will act quickly to save your dog’s life. However, once your dog is safe, your veterinarian will certainly answer your questions. Or, better yet, get informed ahead of time so you know what key data is most important to you in an emergency. Read more on the next page!

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