A Personal experience
As I sit here writing this article I'm thinking of dear Harry and Gill and their current heartache. Poor Danzi is fighting for her life at the vets following a torsion yesterday morning. Of course it's all too raw for me just now, it's only 3 weeks since we lost our darling Storm to complications following a torsion.
Where torsion is concerned, I always believed myself to have been very lucky; 10 years ago Blade had survived it, twice! As he slept in our bedroom with us we were immediately aware of the problem and at the vets within 30 mins of him having the torsion. I have always been aware of the condition and always been careful. Blade had not been exercised near feeding time, he was fed twice daily, his food was soaked and I was always careful that he did not drink excessively. We had been in bed for 3 or 4 hours when Blade had his torsion. He was gagging, heaving, panting heavily, foaming at the mouth and his undercarriage was a strange shape. Blade was rushed to and treated at Cibyn Vet Clinic. Luckily he survived, and 6 weeks later he won Veteran and went Best In Show at Meirioneth Agricultural Show under Judge Ronnie Irvine. Believe me this was a very emotional moment in my life.
But 12 months to the day..at around 5.30pm immediately after eating his meal it happened again. Blade survived...again! This time his stomach was stitched into place to reduce the risk of it happening again...Thank God it didn't.
Storm was not as lucky, and I feel it is important to mention her symptoms. Blade's symptoms where classic of the condition, he threw himself around as if trying to get away from the pain. Storm simply stopped. She didn't gag or pant heavily but there was no mistaking the bloated undercarriage. Storm was at Mifeddygon Deufor Vets probably within an hour of the torsion, she was immediately treated for shock and then taken for surgery. Storm had an 180% twist torsion. Her Spleen was bleeding and enlarged because it was caught up in the twist, but she survived the operation, only to die a couple of weeks later due complications following the surgery. It left us gutted and even more paranoid about the condition.
What You Need To Know
Dogs can suffer painful bloating or 'gastric torsion'. Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), this can quickly prove fatal if left untreated.
For dogs the effects of bolting down their food or exercising too quickly after eating can be deadly, but of course there are other factors like overheating that can cause torsion. Another theory is that using dry dog food increases the risk of torsion, but the condition is also known in dogs eating non dry diets. Some vets suggest a mode of inheritance, but this has not been documented. Sometimes we have to face the facts that we may never really know the true cause.
Gastric torsion causes the stomach to fill with air and twist around itself. Nothing can enter or leave the stomach and the circulation can be cut off. This can cause shock and affect the heart's rhythm.
Although the causes of gastric torsion aren't fully understood, there are a few things that are associated with it including eating too much food at once, or exercising after food. It "usually" affects the big, deep-chested dogs like Great Danes, Golden Retrievers, Weimaraner, German Shepherds, Setters though Dachshunds are also implicated. But I personally know of a "manic" Border Collie/sheepdog who died following a torsion. It is a really serious condition and if there's anything that could ever be considered a dog medical emergency, this would be it.
If not treated seriously and aggressively the dog could die within hours.
Affected dogs start showing signs of restlessness, discomfort and pain suddenly.
They may retch and salivate a lot. Their stomach swells up due to the gas inside it and it can feel hard, like a drum.
The swollen stomach presses against the diaphragm restricting the lungs, so affected dogs may also have difficulty breathing.
Gastric torsion causes pets to go into shock very quickly. Your vet will need to give fluids and emergency first aid immediately, to stabilise the patient, and in most cases they will then need to operate to return the stomach to its normal position.
To reduce the risk of gastric torsion in your dog take the following steps:
Feed smaller meals more frequently over the course of the day instead of one large meal daily
Soak dry food.
Don't exercise your dog within two hours of feeding
Avoid large volumes of water intake at any one time
If your dog is anxious or fearful, seek behavioral advice.
The sooner you act, the higher the chance of your pet surviving.