It is an hour or so after breakfast. You and your young large breed dog had a great run this morning.
But something is wrong. Your dog is restless. He whines. He tries to get your attention. He goes outside but he does not seem to be able to have a bowel movement. He retches like he wants to throw up. He will not accept treats and he is increasingly agitated and uncomfortable.
His breathing is rapid. He is drooling. His belly is hard.
This is not something that seems like it can wait. You make arrangements and rush him to the emergency vet …
The Veterinarian springs into action as soon as your dog arrives. You were right to consider this an emergency. Your dog has something called “gastric torsion” or “gastric dilatation volvulus”.
This condition, commonly called bloat or twisted stomach, must be treated by a veterinarian immediately and can result in death if left untreated. It will require diagnostics, and either manipulation/surgery and after care.
Gastric torsion most commonly happens in large breed and deep chested dogs (think Great Dane or Doberman) but it can happen in any dog.
Various theories about why Gastric torsion occurs have been developed through the years. For those of us in the pet industry for many years, we have been through the “feed your dog at his level” stage and other recommendations on activity and eating, including forcing dogs to eat slowly. With some dogs, that can be particularly challenging.
While feeding a good diet, encouraging him to eat slowly, and separating feed and exercise are all good recommendations, the most important thing to do to prevent a tragic ending to gastric torsion is recognizing and reacting quickly. Quick action will save your dog’s life.
When you need to get your dog to the vet, contact the animal health professionals at www.torontoams.com to get them there.
Amanda G. is an RVT and a valued member of Toronto AMS.
Photo by Mike Burke