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Gastric dilatation-volvulus (bloat or gastric torsion) is the atypical accumulation of fluid, foam or air in the canine stomach often involving volvulus (twisting) of stomach muscles. If a dog's stomach becomes twisted during a bout of gastric torsion, blocked passageways obstruct the release of gases and stomach contents. A serious condition requiring pet emergency services, pet gastric torsion is a leading cause of death in large breeds of dogs simply because it happens quickly and without immediate symptoms.
Deep-chested, large dogs such as German Shepherds, Dobermans, and Great Danes are prone to suffering pet gastric torsion. Males dogs tend to experience bloat more than female dogs as well as dogs with genetic predispositions for bloating. Although veterinarians aren't sure why bloat occurs, they think large dogs are vulnerable to gastric torsion because their abdomens provide enough room for organs to shift slightly from their normal positions when gas accumulates in the stomach.
Anxiety and diet are two likely triggers for a build-up of gas in a dog's stomach. When dogs (and people) are anxious, they tend to breathe abnormally and swallow air. Humans breathe through their mouths when nervous while dogs pant. Aerophagia, or "eating air", is often seen in kennelled or stressed dogs. Constantly swallowing air forces canine stomachs to enlarge and change the normal layout of abdomen organs.
A diet containing fermentable ingredients will also increase production of gas. Feeding dogs poor quality dog food made mostly from filler ingredients is a common cause of pet gastric torsion. Soy, dairy, and beans also contribute to bloating in dogs.
Signs of gastric torsion in dogs are often mistaken for other medical conditions not requiring pet emergency services. Always take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible if you see your dog:
Dogs with gastric torsion may also lick or look repeatedly at their stomach as discomfort increases.
Pet emergency services provided by veterinarians to dogs with gastric torsion involves dilation (inserting a tube into the stomach through the mouth) to reduce pressure and bloating. Dogs suffering stomach twisting will need surgery. Gastric torsion is a serious condition causing death in dogs that are not treated within 24 hours of symptom emergence.
Yes. Feeding dogs multiple, low-fat meals throughout the day and ensuring your dog does not eat too rapidly can help reduce the risk of gastric torsion. Also, allow dogs an hour or two to digest before permitting them to be physically active. Avoid putting your dog in stressful situations that encourage panting or mouth-breathing.
To schedule an appointment with our vet or to learn more about recognizing pet gastric torsion, call Friendship Pet Hospital today at 480-889-0881.