Stomach rotation in dogs: a dangerous emergency

The stomach rotation is one of the most common emergencies in dogs. It mainly occurs in large breeds. If the dangerous rotation of the stomach is not treated quickly enough, it can even be fatal. A stomach twist in dogs is an absolute emergency and requires immediate medical help - Image: Shutterstock / Khakimullin Aleksandr

Large dog breeds such as the Great Dane or the German Shepherd are particularly at risk of suffering a stomach upset. Because the wide chest of these breeds ensures that the stomach has a lot of freedom of movement and thus increases the risk of rotation of the digestive organ.

What happens when the stomach turns?

As a digestive organ, the stomach is usually a "passage point". It has an entrance to the stomach that connects to the esophagus and an exit to the stomach that opens into the small intestine. When the dog's stomach turns, both the stomach entrance and the stomach exit are pinched off, so that the natural digestive process can no longer take place. As a result, the contents of the stomach are not transported into the intestine as usual, nor can they be excreted in the other direction in the form of vomiting. Even the smallest amounts of feed produce gases that cannot escape from the stomach due to the blocked transport routes and therefore swell up quickly.

The result of this is that the blood vessels in this area are depressed and the circulation is disturbed. The nerves can also be pinched off. In addition, the greatly enlarged stomach can press on other organs and severely impair their function. In the worst case, this leads to death.

How can the stomach turn?

When the stomach is turned, the dog's stomach turns around its own axis. This can happen if the stomach has a lot of room in the stomach. Because the digestive organ does not have a very rigid place in the abdominal cavity, but is held by flexible ligaments in addition to the connections to the esophagus and small intestine. These give the stomach a certain freedom of movement - and therefore also make it possible to turn the stomach.

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