Stomach flipping or Gastric Torsion is most prevalent among large breed dogs who have deep chests and more common in males than females but beware, this can also occur in small breeds, though not as common. It is the number two killer in dogs after cancer. At the most serious stage, the stomach rotates partially or a full 360° on the ligaments that support it. At this point the esophagus becomes closed off, as well as is the duodenum and the upper intestine, creating enormous pressure on the organs with no relief. The major vein that passes through the stomach gets pinched, cutting off the blood supply to the stomach and other organs, leading to tissue damage and destruction. Even worse, there is a drastic reduction of blood to the heart and a heart attack is imminent if immediate corrective surgery is not performed.
During surgery, a veterinarian can untwist and reposition the stomach so that food can move through it. Stomach tissue can be examined to ensure it wasn’t injured or deprived of blood during swelling. The spleen, which is attached to the stomach, can be damaged when the stomach twists can also be checked. Often veterinarians will also perform a gastropexy during surgery, which involves attaching the stomach to the abdominal wall so it won’t twist again in the future. A dog that has had gastric torsion is at greater risk of future reocurrence if agastropey isn’t done. Even at this point, however, surgery may not save your dog. Some studies have shown that only half of all dogs experiencing gastric torsion survive. Quick reaction to seek medical attention is the key to survival.
No one knows for sure what causes stomach flipping and how to prevent it but there are many opinions all based on anecdotal evidence, but no hard facts to go on. The following are suggestions to reduce the chances of torsion:
1. Do not allow your dog to play, run, jump or roll within 2-3 hours after he or she eats. A leisurely walk around the neighborhood is fine and may aid digestion, but more active exercise should be restricted. Running with a full stomach, the stomach will swing like a pendulum and has a greater chance of flipping over and twisting itself. If necessary, crate your dog after meal time .
2. Prevent your dog from drinking large amounts of water directly after or one hour before exercise or eating kibble. If you add water most dry foods expand, some more so than others. It is thought that dogs who drink a large amount of water after eating a large meal may cause the ingested dry food to expand in the stomach to a mass that the stomach was not intended to hold. In addition, air is also swallowed and the stomach can swell to a dangerous size. Water can also dilute the stomach’s digestive juices to a point where they cannot do their job, causing gas to build up.
3. Premium dog food with a higher nutrient content will allow you to feed smaller portions while still meeting all of your dog’s nutritional needs. Do a ‘kibble test’ with your dog’s food. Place a cup of dry food in a bowl, add water and let it sit overnight. Over time the food will expand, some more than others, and what you see in the morning is representative of what is in your dog’s stomach. If the food expands excessively, you may want to switch foods. Another option is to add water to the food prior to feeding, allowing it to expand before it is eaten, or to mix dry and canned food together.
4. Feed your dog regularly spaced, smaller meals two or three times per day. This is less likely to stretch his stomach.
5. Dogs under stress are thought to be more at risk than those that are calm and relaxed. Change in their routine, boarding or a new dog in the home are situations that can increase stress in a dog. Temperament can also be a factor. Dogs that are more anxious, nervous, or fearful appear to have an increased risk of developing gastric torsion.
1. The most obvious sign of is a distended, swollen-looking belly, particularly one that appears quickly.
2. Whining and/or panting;
3. Atempting to vomit but isnt able to;
4. Shortness of breath;
5. Depression or show signs of pain;
6. Sudden weakness
7. In severe cases, the dog will collapse.
Educate yourself about the symptoms and risk factors, and if your dog fits the profile for higher risk, make the changes that will reduce the risk. Know where the nearest emergency clinic is located, and how to get there in case an your veterinary office is closed.
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