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Twisted Gut

There was a note on the message board about a dog who died of "twisted gut". No one seemed to know much about it. Can you enlighten us a bit.

Sure, but I hope you never have to experience this awful disease. A "twisted gut" is a disease called Gastric Dilation-Volvulus(GDV) which is overdistension of the stomach (bloat) in combination with a twist of the stomach that closes the inlet and outlet of the stomach. As the bloating continues, the dogs develop profound life-threatening shock which develops into respiratory and cardiac failure and death. It occurs most commonly in large deep-chested dogs like Great Danes, German Shepherd, standard poodles, Dobermans and Irish Setters but has been seen in smaller breeds. There are a number of risk factors for GDV:
  1. Risk increases with age
  2. breed/conformation as mentioned
  3. Ingesting a large amount of food or water that overdistends the stomach.
  4. exercise after overdistension of the stomach may physically displace the stomach
  5. Type of diet and frequency of feedings have been speculated to be factors but have not been proven.
  6. Abnormal esophagus or stomach function allowing either an excess accumulation of gas or a delay in emptying the stomach.
The signs of GDV are excessive salivation usually accompanied by retching, they act like they are trying to vomit repeatedly but nothing comes up. Often these dogs act nervous or restless and have some degree of abdominal distention. If your dog show these signs it is an emergency and need to be seen PRONTO! If you have an at risk dog, try feeding multiple smaller meals 2-4 times daily and limiting exercise after eating. If I never see another GDV it would be fine with me!

Dr. Mike

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