Dilation twisting of the stomach in dogs

Stomach dilation-torsion (DTE) is an abdominal condition of acute development, that is to say very rapid, which is found mainly in large dogs (great dane, new land, German shepherd). But which can also occur on dogs of smaller size (cocker spaniel, beagle….). This article will tell you about dilation twisting of the stomach in dogs

It is characterized by rapid gas expansion of the stomach which is often accompanied by twisting of this organ. In the absence of treatment, its course is quickly fatal. Its exact causes of appearance are not yet clearly understood, and only risk factors have been identified. And the causes are not necessarily unanimous in the eyes of specialists.

Risk factors

  • There is no sexual predisposition, both males and females can develop this pathology.
  • The weight of the animal is not a risk factor. Thus, even within a predisposed breed, an obese animal will not necessarily have a greater risk of developing an ETD than a thin or thin animal.
  • Dogs with a first-degree family relationship (brother, sister, descendant) with another dog who has developed a DTE are more exposed to this risk compared toother dogs of the same breed (hereditary origin therefore suspected but never formally proven)
  • Several factors related to the intake of meals increase the risk of the occurrence of dilation torsion of the stomach. A high rate of ingestion of the food ration (with therefore an increase in the ingestion of air) followed by drink in large quantities, meals that are too large (this would promote bacterial fermentation), and food particles (generally kibbles) smaller than 30 mm in size (this mechanism poorly understand and deserves to further explore).
  • The popular idea that post-meal physical activity increases the risk of DTE has never prove. These activities include playing games, running errands after meals.
  • Finally, “sad” or stressed dogs seem to be more prone to the development of DTE. The yet no scientific explanation has really established. But we all know that stress has multiple harmful consequences on the body.

Digestive symptoms

They must know and easily recognize by the owners:

  • sometimes very painful cranial abdominal distension : appearance of a large belly
  • cranial abdominal tympanism : belly swollen with air that looks like a balloon in front of the abdomen
  • unsuccessful efforts to vomit : the animal tries to vomit but nothing happens, these efforts being very loud and impressive
  • significant salivation : the dog drools a lot without stopping
  • onset often after a meal : be careful; this is not necessarily systematic, sometimes a delay of nearly 10 hours can occur
  • state of agitation (sudden anxiety) then progressive deterioration (deep depression) with a state of terminal shock


Dilation twisting of the stomach in dogs

Treatment of the twisting dilation of the dog’s stomach

  • The modalities of treatment of this condition are the sole responsibility of the veterinary practitioner. It , however, recognizes that the use of surgery is essential during torsion of the stomach (rapid repositioning of the stomach is necessary on pain of almost certain death of the animal). It also recommends during dilation alone, the stomach. To assess organic lesions and perform gastropexy, i.e. fixation of the stomach to the costal wall so that in the event of recurrence, dilation does not follow torsion.
  • Of course, the state of shock that accompanies this pathology must treat as a priority.
  • The more quickly the dog takes care of, the more the chances of success will increase. Moreover, between medical and surgical progress and the rapid recognition of signs of dilation and torsion of the stomach in dogs by owners, the success rate has increased from 30% to more than 70% currently.

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Advice to owners

In order to limit the risks of occurrence of an ETD, it is advisable to:

  • split the food ration several small meals per day (2 to 4 depending on the possibilities)
  • keep water available at all times in order to avoid too much watering at one time
  • give an industrial hyperdigestible diet, that is to say good quality croquettes, of high nutritional value. The diet will easily digest by the dog
  • prefer food particles> 30 mm in size, provided the dog does not swallow them all at once, which would be worse!
  • do not moisten the kibble, this increases the volume of the ration and does nothing more for the dog
  • do not raise the bowl as this promotes the ingestion of air
  • avoid post-meal physical exercise, even if the risk factor is not significant, here the precautionary principle applies
  • preferably choose a dog coming from lines which did not make dilation torsion of the stomach. Still it is necessary to be able to have access to this information

Sometimes, certain anatomical or pathological causes may be at the origin of ETD, such as malformations, hypomotility of the stomach, ulcers, tumors, etc. It may then be desirable to consider additional examinations (ultrasound, endoscopy, etc. ….)

Unfortunately, even with all of this preventative advice and close monitoring, some dogs do or do a twisting stomach dilation, which is an individual predisposition against which there is little you can do.