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STOMACH TORSION IN DOGS

PATRICIA LOPEZ

June 19, 2022

Emergencies / Surgery

Stomach torsion in dogs is a pathological process, also known technically as “gastric dilatation-volvulus”. It is one of the main concerns of owners and breeders of large and giant breed dogs, although it can also affect smaller animals.
What is?
It is an acute disease in which the stomach first dilates, filling itself with air, water and food, and then turns on itself, being able to turn once or half on its axis. This causes both outlets of the stomach (the esophagus and the intestine) to close, aggravating the distention. And what is worse, it obstructs the blood flow of all the abdominal organs involved, mainly the stomach itself and the spleen that is adjacent. Circulatory disturbance often also causes heart rhythm problems (arrhythmias).
For all these reasons, we are facing a complex picture that causes a state of shock in the animal, and therefore puts its life in danger in a short time. Being one of the main and most serious veterinary emergencies
Why does it occur?
The main predisposing causes are:
• Eating very quickly and in large quantities, for example only once a day, or with anxiety, which makes them swallow a lot of air.
• Drink plenty of water before or just after eating, which increases the volume of the content and thus dilation.
• Exercising intensely or being very nervous after eating, which can favor the
abnormal movement of the stomach
• Being a large dog, and especially a deep-chested dog, such as German Bulldogs,
shepherds, mastiffs, etc… There is more space in the abdomen for the organ to turn.
• Being elderly.
How does it manifest?
The main symptoms are swelling of the abdomen, nervousness (walking in circles, not
unable to sit or lie down), attempts to vomit or unproductive vomiting, wheezing and difficulty
respiratory.
Then, as the problem progresses, the dog may become prostrate and weak, in shock,
even unconscious
What can we do?
The resolution of this pathology is always surgical, so when in doubt, if we think that our
dog can have stomach torsion, we must go as soon as possible to a veterinary center where
handle this type of emergency.
Definitive diagnosis will be made quickly by physical examination and X-ray.
abdomen, which offers a very characteristic image.
Then in the hospital they will do everything necessary to stabilize the patient, first if possible
emptying excess gas from the stomach, supporting the circulatory system with intensive fluid therapy, and
then with replacement surgery and fixation of the stomach to its proper anatomical place.
Sometimes the spleen also has to be removed because it has been damaged and is bleeding.
In any case, it is a high-risk surgery that can lead to multiple complications, not exempt
mortality, but it is essential to do if we want to save the life of the animal with this
pathology.

If the animal passes the intervention, it will still spend a few days hospitalized to properly control its
evolution.
Can we prevent it?
Yes. There is a preventive surgery for this serious disease that consists of fixing the stomach with
points to the abdominal wall, prophylactic gastropexy.
We can take advantage of another common preventive surgery, such as sterilization in females, in which
We are going to access the abdominal cavity and it will only be to add one more relatively simple technique.
Likewise, in any case it is advisable to offer food several times a day to prevent them from eating
too quickly or anxiously.
Make them drink water also distributed throughout the day and night.
Avoid intense exercise or sudden efforts after meals.

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