Twitch's twisted stomach

Twitch first presented to us with some vague signs of a tummy upset, he'd been a bit quiet, sore around the belly and had loose very smelly faeces. He quickly went down hill and was in so much pain that any movement was a real struggle. He then started vomiting large amounts of what smelt and looked like diarrhoea.

Pain relief was given and intravenous fluids started to treat for shock. X-rays revealed very gassy intestines and a very large distended stomach (full of gas and liquid). When a dogs stomach look like this it MUST BE TREATED AS AN EMERGENCY. Twitch had surgery which revealed 2 things, firstly the stomach was partially twisted - causing the distension and build up faecal like fluid in the stomach, and secondly his spleen had also twisted on itself and was starting to die. Twitch had his spleen removed (which he can live without) and the stomach was emptied (10 litres of putrid stomach fluids) and returned to it's normal position. To prevent it rotating again it was sutured into it's correct position on the inside of the body wall. Fluids (with added electrolytes), antibiotics and pain relief were then given.

The next day, Twitch was eating small amounts of food and continued to make a steady recovery over the next couple of days. Within a week Twitch was back to himself.

Twitch had a life threatening condition called a partial GDV - gastric dilation and volvulus - the stomach swells up and twists on itself, and a torsion of the spleen. His condition was certainly life threatening, he was however lucky it wasn't a complete GDV, which can be fatal within hours! It causes extreme pain and shock - the body shuts down as the blood supply to the stomach and often the spleen is stopped with twisting of the blood vessels supplying these organs, which then very quickly die.

It is a condition we mainly see in larger deep chested breeds of dog (eg Great Dane, Rottweiler). As GDV is so often fatal by the time we see our patients, we will recommend a simple surgery at the time of desexing for certain breeds (especially female great danes) to suture the stomach to the wall of the abdomen to prevent GDV. If you have a large breed dog showing signs of stomach bloating or pain you must bring them in to see us immediately - if it occurs after-hours take them to the Animal Accident and Emergency hospital. This is a purpose built emergency facility located at the Main Terminal, Essendon Airport. You can contact Animal Accident and Emergency on 9379 0700 - do not wait till the next morning to seek assistance.

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