Southern Cross Veterinary Clinic in Port Elizabeth

This is a very serious and life threatening condition. It consists of two parts: Gastric Dilatation and Gastric Torsion. The stomach fills with air in dilatation and so can easily rotate (torsion). The blood supply to the stomach is cut off and the dog's condition deteriorates quickly. Not all dogs with a dilatation will develop a torsion. The condition is more likely to develop in large breed dogs with a deep, narrow chest, for example Great Danes. Older dogs and male dogs are more likely to develop the condition. There may be a genetic factor. Dogs fed once a day are twice as likely to develop the condition compared to dogs fed twice a day. Dogs who eat quickly, exercise soon after eating or have a nervous, anxious temperament are at a greater risk. Gastric dilatation and torsion is caused by a combination of factors.

Signs of gastric dilatation and torsion:

swollen belly
nonproductive vomiting (not vomiting up anything)
rapid breathing
shock and have pale gums

Our vets at Southern Cross will place an IV catheter and administer fluids. A stomach tube will be passed with the dog under anaesthetic to remove the air in the stomach and the stomach will be repeatedly washed out. Surgery may be required to prevent future episodes.

To reduce the chances of gastric dilatation and torsion, feed large dogs two to three times a day, limit water immediately after feeding, avoid exercise and excitement one hour before and two hours after feeding, and change of diet should happen slowly over three to five days.

If you suspect that your dog has gastric dilatation and torsion, contact us immediately.

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Xray of gastric torsion