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Gastric Torsion or Bloat

October 1, 2012

Have you ever heard of a dog’s stomach flipping? It sounds like something made up, doesn’t it? Sadly, it isn’t. Gastric torsion, or bloat, is a serious and life threatening condition that can occur in dogs.

The exact cause of gastric torsion is not known, although large, deep-chested breeds, such as Great Danes, Dobermans and German Shepherds are much more likely to suffer from it than smaller dogs.  The dog’s stomach “flips” or twists on itself, trapping the stomach contents and gas inside and keeping the stomach from emptying. The dog can go from perfectly healthy to near death in only a few hours after this occurs.

What are the signs of gastric torsion? It often occurs shortly after meal time, although not always. The dog may have a distended abdomen and look bloated. He may pace and try to vomit, although he will be unable to. He may drool and pant excessively, and be in obvious discomfort. The sooner your dog is brought in for treatment the better his chances of survival. If not treated, it is fatal.

If caught very early, a stomach tube may be able to be inserted to release the built up pressure and empty out the stomach’s contents. If a stomach tube cannot be passed, then emergency surgery is required to go in and manually untwist the stomach. During surgery, the stomach is often surgically secured to prevent future reoccurrence. The more time that passes before surgery is performed though, the more damage to the stomach and other associated organs which can lead to serious complications or death.

If you ever have reason to believe that your dog may be suffering from gastric torsion, please call us right away.  The sooner your dog arrives the sooner we can begin treatment and save your pet from unnecessary suffering and quite possibly, save his life.