Posted by: Jon | 2004/11/14

"turned stomach"

dear doc

last night my 6 yr old german sheperd seemed to be in pain and one side of his stomach was swollen.Fearing he may have been poisoned i took him to my vet at 3 am this morning. i was told that his stomach had turned and that he was in shock.he was put on a drip to stablise following which a pipe was inserted to attempt to release the gas? this did not work and the vet operated, whilst cleaning his spleen the dog died. i am still in a state of shock and very emotional.
please could you explain the above diagnosis and advise if there was anything else we should have tried to save my pet.

thanks and regards

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Our expert says:
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This condition is called gastric dilatation/torsion and is extremely serious and often results in death. It happens quite suddenly, and becomes life-threatening within the hour. For an unknown reason, the food in the stomach result in excessive gas production which cannot be relieved in the normal way (burping or by the small intestine). The gas will lead to massive pressure within the stomach. This pressure then becomes higher than the blood pressure and results in blood no longer flowing within the wall of the stomach. The stomach may also turn on itself and result in occlusion of the blood supply to the stomach as well as the spleen which is closely associated with the stomach. As a result, the stomach and the spleen may develop massive damage and die off. This results in blood clots circulating through the body, as well as the production of massive amounts of toxins which causes havoc throughout the body. This often results in death. There is nothing more that you and your veterinarian could have done. Sometimes, we are lucky and the patient will present before the organs start dying and the patient can be operated on successfully. It remains an extremely serious condition. It can only be prevented by a operating on a healthy large breed dogs and permanently fixing the stomach in place surgically.

I am sorry about your loss.

Dr Malan van Zyl
Veterinary Specialist Physician
Cape Town

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

Our users say:
Posted by: Acineth | 2004/11/15

Before someone impersonating me posts someting terrible, I'd like to add my condolences.

When I first started training we were told there is a correlation with food and exercise in large breeds, but since your dog was six it probably wasn't that. Tortion is terrible and unpredictable and luckily for your dog you took him to the vet quickly.

Reply to Acineth
Posted by: Carol | 2004/11/15

I lost my ridgeback to tortion some 15 years ago .. it was horrible ... I still have nightmares about it .. she was my best friend...

Im so sorry to hear about yr doggie ..but as far as i know once it has happened there is nothing u can do ...

I think tho i speak under correction here that one of the causes is playing after eating a big meal .. i now give my boxers smaller meals and try and limit theur playing until their food has settled .

Reply to Carol
Posted by: Chill | 2004/11/14

Jon, I'm so sorry to hear about your dog. This is every dog-owner's nightmare.

A stomach torsion is when the stomach flips over and the 'tubes' leading in and out of the stomach are twisted, so that nothing can get through them - not even gas.

It's a HUGE emergency, and will always be fatal if it's not sorted out - and as you've discovered, it's not always possible for it to be fixed. Even if it had been possible to flip the stomach back, there's no guarantee that it wouldn't have happened again - in fact, some dogs are prone to it which in itself is another thing, because you can't really ever leave them alone with any kind of peace of mind.

You were absolutely right to rush the dog to the vet, and I do not believe there was anything more you could have done. It's not necessary to blame yourself in any way - you did what you could.

For the record, it's the larger dog breeds that are most prone to this condition: especially Great Danes, Shepherds, Malamutes.

If you google the words 'stomach torsion dog', you'll find a whole lot more information on the subject.

I hope this helps you come to terms with your dog's death - there's no way of predicting if or when such a thing is going to happen.

Best wishes.

Reply to Chill

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