A few years ago, a friend of mine called me in a panic. She told me that her German shepherd was whining, attempting to vomit, panting and had a bloated stomach on the left side. I told her to immediately take the dog to her vet. The symptoms were strongly indicative of a life threatening health concern called gastric torsion, or commonly referred to as stomach flipping.
Torsion is most prevalent among large breed dogs. The stomach of the dog will twist or rotate after eating and then engaging in rigorous activity. The problem is further compounded if the dog drinks large amounts of water before or after eating or exercising.
In order to reduce the chances of torsion, never exercise your dog after he or she eats (within 2-3 hours). In fact, after mealtime is the best time to crate your dog. Additionally, do not allow the dog to drink large amounts of water directly after or one hour before exercise or eating kibble. Feeding your dog two meals a day instead of one is helpful. If your dog should exhibit bloating and pain, take him or her to the vet immediately since this is a life threatening situation. Some studies have shown that only half of all dogs experiencing gastric torsion survive. The key to survival had to do with the timeliness at which the handler sought medical attention.
Genetics play a role. Do not a purchase a German shepherd or other large dog without inquiring if any relatives of the dog have experienced gastric torsion.
Fortunately, my friend’s dog made it. She has not had a repeat occurrence now that she knows what to do and what not to do. The chances that your dog will experience this health problem are slim. But on the off chance it does happen, your dog will have a higher rate of survival because you now know what to look for.
Knowledge is a powerful thing.