Gastric Torsion

Gastric Torsion in Pets

Gastric torsion refers to a twisting of the stomach. Unfortunately, it is an all too common medical condition in dogs, especially some of the larger breeds. That said, any breed of dog of any size or age can potentially fall victim to the condition of gastric torsion, and the services of an emergency vet will be required.

The medical name for gastric torsion is gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV), and it has also been referred to as “bloat.” While any dog can fall victim to this condition, pets that are the most prone include:

  • Breeds with large, deep barrel-like chests
  • Older dogs
  • Male dogs

While the precise cause of gastric torsion is not clear, two of the possible and likely causes include:

  • Rapid Eating or Drinking - Dogs that gulp down their food or water tend to be more prone to falling victim to the condition of gastric torsion.
  • Stress - Stress is the cause of many illnesses and conditions, and it may play a factor in gastric torsion as well.

Two Phases of Gastric torsion


In the dilation phase, the pet’s stomach fills with either fluid or air or both and begins to enlarge. Again, this is typically caused by the animal gulping food or water too quickly and/or undergoing some sort of stressful situation.


The distended stomach then twists on its axis, causing both ends of it to become blocked. The fluid and/or gas inside then has no way of being let out. The stomach continues to swell and begins to press on the diaphragm. This, in turn, causes difficulty breathing and puts pressure on the abdominal blood vessels, cutting off supply to the abdominal organs. This can, in turn, lead to a dying off of the tissue of the stomach as well as organ failure. 

The symptoms of gastric torsion to look for in pets include:

  • Discomfort
  • Restlessness
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Reluctance to lie down
  • Drooling
  • Dry heaves
  • Pale gums
  • Collapse

Gastric Torsion Treatments

Gastric torsion is a medical emergency and will likely require surgical intervention. In some cases, decompression of the stomach through a tube in the esophagus will correct the issue. In other cases, surgery will be required. If the stomach tissue has not begun to die off, then the pet’s prognosis is usually good.

Your Emergency Veterinarian in Montrose and Houston, Texas Can Help

Your emergency veterinarian in Montrose and Houston, Texas Montrose Veterinary Clinic is a full-service animal hospital ready to assist you with any pet health emergency. If your pet is showing the signs and symptoms of gastric torsion, don’t hesitate to contact us immediately. In addition to being your emergency veterinarian in Montrose and Houston, TX, our vet can also assist you with more routine pet care such as exams, spay, neuter and pet boarding services. Call us today at 7135243814.


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