Gastric Torsion in Dogs: Jack’s Emergency Surgery

Gastric torsion, also known as gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) is a life-threatening condition in dogs.

Large, deep-chested breeds are especially susceptible. Some of the breeds at risk are Great Danes, Dobermans, Weimaraners, Gordon Setters, Irish Setters, and Saint Bernards. Any dog parent, however, should be aware of the symptoms.

Symptoms of gastric torsion come on fast and include:

  • distended/swollen abdomen
  • panting
  • pacing
  • restlessness
  • excessive drooling
  • unproductive retching
  • pain behavior

GDV needs immediate veterinary attention; hours and even minutes can mean the difference between life and death of your dog. Even with emergency surgery, many dogs don’t make it and no dog survives without fast veterinary intervention.

Further information: Signs and Symptoms of Bloat in Dogs

Gastric Torsion in Dogs: Jack's Emergency Surgery

Jack’s story

Jack is a 10-year-old purebred Giant Schnauzer. He is a large, active boy. The first time Jack became sick, he threw up his dinner. He also lost interest in food and became dull and quiet.

His mom took him to a vet. They kept Jack in for a day to monitor him but with a simple treatment, he bounced right back and could go home.

The veterinarian determined that something upset Jack’s stomach but it was nothing strange or scary. Jack was perfectly normal after that.

The episode

A few months later, Jack started feeling unwell again. There were no obvious red flags other than he became somewhat lethargic and lost interest in play. Then he didn’t finish his food once again, which was not like him at all.

When it was time for Jack’s fun outside, he decided to pass and return back inside instead. As he came in, he let out a belch his mom has never heard a dog make. Things only got worse from there.

Jack’s symptoms worsen

While Jack didn’t want to go on his walk, he wouldn’t settle down either. He started pacing around the room. When he tried to lie down, he looked uncomfortable and would get up and pace around again. He pas panting heavily. Jack was clearly highly uncomfortable. Jack’s mom recognized something was quite wrong and took Jack to the veterinarian.

At the veterinarian

The first concern Jack’s veterinarian had immediately, was gastric torsion. It’s a condition when the dog’s stomach expands with food, liquid and gas, which can make the stomach twist around trapping the contents from escaping while continuing to swell. At the same time the bloated stomach cuts of blood supply to the stomach itself and surrounding organs.

It is a dire, life-threatening emergency. Large, deep-chested breed dogs are especially at risk. A dog with stomach torsion can die within hours.

The diagnosis

The diagnosis is confirmed with x-rays. Jack’s radiographs confirmed the veterinarian’s suspicion; Jack was suffering from GDV.

Jack was in big trouble. Even with aggressive treatment, many dogs don’t survive. Jack was off to emergency surgery.

It wasn’t until middle of that night when Jack’s mom got a call from the emergency hospital informing her that Jack’s surgery went well and Jack was recovering.

Jack was one of the dogs fortunate to make it through the ordeal. His mom’s quick action and prompt diagnosis and treatment saved his life.

Source story:
Jack, a Giant Schnauzer Who Developed a Gastric Torsion

Related articles:
Abdominal Distention in Dogs: Why Is My Dog’s Stomach Swollen?
Gastric Dilatation And Volvulus (GDV): What Did The Latest Study Reveal?

Further reading:
Bloat: Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus in Dogs

Categories: BloatConditionsDistended abdomenDog health advocacyGastric Dilatation-Volvulus (Bloat):Real-life StoriesSymptoms

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

  1. I’m glad that Jack is okay! One of my friend’s dog was not so lucky, despite getting to the vet right away.

  2. When I lived in Calgary, my best friend was a vet tech. She took one look at Shep’s deep chest and said, “OK, here’s what you have to know.” She prepped me on the signs of bloat and torsion. A few years later, after we had moved to Kelowna, B.C., that scariest of days happened. Shep was dry heaving and confused. I rushed him to the emergency vet and they were able to get him in right away. The surgery, $3,300, was successful and the vet said I got him in so quickly that there was little to no necrosis. I now always urge my dog-loving friends to learn the signs. Shep lived another nine months after that. He died of kidney failure but I am grateful for every extra day given to me by the vet who operated on him for torsion.

  3. Wow that’s a scary thing to happen. I thought this was more for big dogs that it happened to – I’m sorry he went through it but glad it all worked out and he’s better.

  4. Poor Jack! I have a friend with a 2-year old little girl that is going through her 3rd surgery due to a similar issue. The thing that was scary is that the doctors didn’t see it right away and from Jack’s story, it can be the same with dogs and their vets. Whether human or dog, it’s a terrible thing to go through and I am so happy to hear Jack is recovered.

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