What causes a twisted stomach in humans

Gastric torsion in dogs: causes, symptoms, and treatment

A dog's stomach torsion is a medical emergency in which the animal's stomach rotates on its own axis and which requires immediate veterinary care. If left untreated, it is fatal for the dog within a few hours.

In the following, we will explain the causes of a stomach torsion in dogs and the symptoms to watch out for. You will also find out what prevention options there are and what the chances of recovery are.

Key facts at a glance

  • A torsion in the stomach is always a medical emergency that ends fatally within a few hours.
  • Age, stress and the way the dog eats can make the dog's stomach twist.
  • Larger breeds of dogs are more likely to be affected than small breeds of dogs.
  • Always have an emergency number ready if you suspect a stomach torsion so that the vet can prepare for the operation - every minute counts.

What is a stomach twist?

In dogs, the stomach is not firmly attached to the abdominal cavity, but is held in the intended position by flexible straps. If your dog experiences a torsion in the stomach (torsio ventriculi), it turns on its own axis.

As a result, blood vessels and nerves, among other things, are pinched off. Gases cannot escape from the stomach. The dog's body is no longer adequately supplied with oxygen and blood and the four-legged friend dies of a circulatory collapse within hours.

Possible causes of a stomach torsion in the dog

The causes of a stomach torsion in dogs cannot be clearly determined in most cases. However, it is known that certain breeds of dogs are at increased risk. This includes in particular large breeds, such as German shepherds and boxers. Smaller dogs, on the other hand, are affected much less often.

Apart from that, the following factors favor gastric torsion in dogs:

  • Hastily gobbling down the food
  • Feeding a large portion every day
  • Romp around right after eating
  • Excessive stress that the dog is exposed to
  • Frequent swallowing of air
  • Weak gastric bands in older dogs

Preventing stomach torsion in dogs

Of course, the hereditary disposition of your four-legged friend cannot be changed. Nevertheless, there are quite a few measures you can take to at least reduce the risk of a stomach torsion in your dog.

Instead of giving the animal all of its food at once, you should split it into two to three smaller portions. This is easy on the stomach and reduces the likelihood that your dog will experience a stomach twist.

Also, make sure that your dog doesn't gobble down his food too quickly. For this purpose, it can be worthwhile to purchase a so-called anti-twist bowl. You should also ensure that your dog rests after eating and avoid exposing your four-legged friend to excessive stress.

Symptoms of torsion in the dog

A dog that has had a stomach torsion will look restless at first and will try in vain to vomit. In addition, since the torsion of the stomach prevents gases from escaping from the stomach, the animal's belly swells up a lot and becomes hard. This is very painful for the dog.

Breathing becomes increasingly difficult for the affected animal and the pulse is greatly increased. In addition, the dog's mucous membranes are noticeably light due to the insufficient blood supply and the salivation is very strong. Eventually, from the twisting of the stomach, the dog will pass out and collapse.

Gastric torsion in dogs: surgical treatment is required

If your dog has a stomach torsion, you must act immediately. There are no first aid measures with which you can help your four-legged friend. Instead, you need to contact a veterinarian immediately and make your way to their practice.

The only possible treatment for a dog's stomach torsion is surgery. First, the vet stabilizes the animal's circulation with an infusion and discharges gases with the help of a special syringe. The veterinarian then puts the dog under general anesthesia, corrects the position of the stomach and sutures it to the abdominal wall in order to counteract any new twisting of the stomach.

Not all dogs with a twisted stomach can be saved

The twisting of the stomach can lead to numerous complications in your dog. It can, among other things, cause tears in the stomach wall or require removal of the spleen or parts of the stomach due to the temporary interruption of the blood supply.

It is also not uncommon for other organs such as the liver, kidneys or heart to be affected by the torsion of the dog's stomach. Even a timely emergency operation is therefore no guarantee that your dog will survive the twisting of the stomach. Almost a third do not survive the emergency despite veterinary care.

Treating a torsion in the stomach is expensive

Operations are one of the most expensive services at the veterinarian. The intervention required to treat a stomach torsion in dogs is no exception. As a dog owner, you can expect veterinary costs of around 1,200 euros for the operation.

Possible complications and a possibly necessary inpatient stay are not yet taken into account and can increase the bill even more.

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Petplan pays the surgery costs

We recommend that you take out dog health insurance so that you don't have to pay the veterinarian's costs in the event of a stomach torsion in your dog. At Petplan you can choose between comprehensive health insurance and pure operating theater insurance for this purpose.

Depending on the tariff you choose, you can insure yourself against the financial consequences of stomach torsion in your dog from a monthly premium of 8.16 euros. Calculate your premiums now and, ideally, send us your insurance application today.

This article was made by Manuela Vogt checked and revised!

Manuela Vogt
Animal caretaker & animal behavior consultant

Manuela Vogt is a trained animal keeper and has worked in animal shelters for many years.

She lives with her family, dogs, cats and rabbits in Northern Germany.