Can a Dog's Stomach Turn Upside Down?

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Large breeds with deep chests are more prone to bloat.
Large breeds with deep chests are more prone to bloat. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

A dog’s stomach has the ability to twist in a painful and often deadly condition called bloat. Medically known as gastric dilatation/volvulus, bloat can occur when a dog eats a meal too quickly. Fast action is required to reposition the dog’s stomach, or your pup could suffer a host of medical consequences. It is possible for a stomach to turn completely upside down during a case of bloat.

What Happens

If a dog eats his food too fast or vigorously exercises right after consuming a meal, he may develop bloat. The stomach muscles twist and turn on themselves, cutting off the flow anything in or out of the organ. The stomach may twist only slightly, or in severe cases, turn completely upside down. The food continues to be digested in the stomach, and the gaseous buildup literally bloats or swells the stomach during the process. The condition becomes painful for a suffering dog. As the abdomen may quickly swell, he may attempt unproductive vomiting or coughing, or show signs of shock such as shaking.

Life and Death

Large-breed dogs are most susceptible to suffer bloat, as are deep-chested pups and elderly dogs. The degree of torque varies from one dog to another. A dog with an upside-down stomach can quickly suffer fluid loss and electrolyte imbalance, causing damage to other organs in as little as 20 minutes. Dogs who get prompt treatment have about an 80 percent survival rate, according to the University of Florida Small Animal Hospital website.

Veterinary Treatment

A dog suffering from a twisted or upside-down stomach must be seen by a medical professional immediately. In rare instances, a vet can reposition the stomach from the outside of the dog’s abdomen, but surgery is required in most cases. Failing to untwist the stomach and return it to its original position can restrict blood flow and lead to heart damage. If your dog has surgery, the vet may opt for a secondary procedure called gastroplexy, whereby he tacks the stomach to the abdominal wall to reduce the potential for it turning upside down in the future.

Preventative Precautions

Talk to your vet about the best way to prevent against future instances of bloat in your dog outside of surgery. He may suggest diet changes, such as eliminating fermented carbs and grains from you pup’s diet. You may also opt for small, frequent meals. If the dog's a fast eater, spread the food along a baking sheet or use a feeding bowl with a raised center to encourage your dog to slow down and enjoy his meal.

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