Stomach Torsion in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Has your dog just devoured his food with appetite, but now he is restless and does not know how to sit or lie down? Do you examine your dog more closely and feel a strong bloated stomach? If your darling then also starts to retch without vomiting, the symptoms point to a torsion of the stomach. Now quick action is required.


How does a torsion in the stomach occur in dogs?

Unlike us humans, the stomach of dogs is not firmly connected to the abdominal cavity. Instead, flexible straps hold it in place. If your dog has a twisted stomach, the organ rotates on its own axis. The gastric outlets to the esophagus and small intestine are blocked as a result, blood vessels and nerves are pinched off.

Possible causes and risk factors

It is not exactly clear when and why exactly a dog suffers a gastric torsion. Experts assume that several individual factors are involved. This phenomenon often occurs after feeding, when the dog starts romping around again immediately after being given a large portion of food. However, cases are also known in which a calm dog with an empty stomach has suffered a twist.

Risk factors for gastric torsion in dogs include:

  • feeding a single, large portion per day
  • hasty gobbling of food and frequent gulping of air
  • excessive stress
  • hereditary predispositions
  • declining gastric band strength in older dogs

Which dog breeds are prone to torsion in the stomach?

The fact is that large breeds with a broad chest are particularly affected. In these animals, the stomach has enough room to rotate. These include, for example, Boxers, German Shepherds, Saint Bernards and Rottweilers. Smaller dogs are affected less often, but torsion of the stomach cannot be completely ruled out here either.

How does my dog ​​behave when the stomach has turned?

In the beginning, the symptoms of gastric torsion are relatively unspecific, as they cause the animal very few problems. Your dog seems a little more restless than usual and is constantly pacing. In addition, he cannot find a comfortable lying position, gets up again and again, and instead sits a lot.

How do I recognize advanced gastric torsion in dogs?


Since the exits of the stomach are blocked by the rotation, the contents of the stomach ferment over time, and the resulting gases increasingly inflate the stomach of the four-legged friend. At this stage of the torsion of the stomach, the dog has symptoms such as increased salivation and strong retching. He also suffers from pain as the gas exacerbates the gastric torsion. If the bloated belly presses on the lungs, your dog will also have shortness of breath. Another sign of advanced gastric torsion is pale mucous membranes. They arise because the dog’s body is only insufficiently supplied with blood due to the squeezed blood vessels. Without veterinary treatment, your four-legged friend will die of circulatory shock after a while. That is why quick action is vital.

Can my dog ​​still eat after a stomach torsion?

After an acute gastric torsion, your dog can neither eat nor drink because the stomach entrances are completely blocked. Due to the increasing pain and the great discomfort, the four-legged friend has no interest in eating.

How long does a dog with torsion survive?

If the dog has a stomach torsion, it is life-threatening. This is a serious veterinary emergency. Without treatment from the vet, the twisted stomach will inevitably lead to death within hours. Take the animal to the veterinary clinic immediately.

What does the vet do?

The vet will stabilize your pet’s circulation with infusions and medication. If the abdomen is severely bloated, the vet will give your dog relief by using a special syringe to remove the gases.
Dogs with torsion are now in dire need of surgery. Here the vet brings the stomach back into its original position and sews it up to the abdominal wall for safety. This prevents the organ from rotating again.

Gastric torsion in the dog: chance of survival and prognosis

Despite successful gastric surgery, it is not always possible to save the dog. Sometimes the problem was recognized too late or the animal’s circulatory system failed.

Even with timely treatment by the veterinarian, around a third of the affected dogs can die as a result of torsion in the stomach. This is the case, for example, with older dogs, when the stomach has cracked due to the gas build-up or other organs – such as the liver, kidneys, or heart – have been damaged by the disturbed blood flow.

This is how you can prevent torsion in your dog’s stomach

Since the exact triggers of gastric torsion in dogs are unknown, there is always a residual risk despite careful precautions. Therefore, when buying a puppy, ask whether there are known cases of torsion in this breed. Watch out for related symptoms of canine torsion in breeds known to have this problem. Always have the number of your veterinarian and the veterinary emergency service ready for these and other emergencies.

In addition, it is helpful to observe the following rules:

  • If there is an increased risk of gastric torsion, divide the feed into two to three smaller portions per day.
  • Let your dog rest for at least two hours after eating.
  • Make sure the dog doesn’t roll on the floor or climb stairs after eating.
  • For hasty eaters, get an anti-slurp bowl with nooks and crinkles to avoid excessive gulping of air.
  • The basic rule is: Keep your four-legged friend away from great stress and offer him suitable opportunities to retreat.

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