Gastric Dilation – Torsion. Jaundice. Poisoning

Disease of Alimentary System

Gastric Dilation/Torsion

In certain types of dogs gas accumulates in the stomach so that it dilates to such an extent as to become a threat to life. Breeds usually affected by the disease, sometimes known as bloat, are particularly Bloodhounds, Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds and Irish Setters. Other breeds, such as Basset Hounds and Boxers, are also affected, and it may also occur in Dachshunds and Pekingese.

Dogs with gastric dilation usually make unsuccessful attempts to vomit and show an obvious, tight distension of the abdominal wall. If the condition is not resolved, the stomach may twist on its axis (torsion), trapping the gas and cutting off the blood supply to essential organs. A complete twist of the gut (volvulus) is life-threatening and needs urgent veterinary attention. Gastric Dilation is usually related to greedy feeders getting excited at meal times, with a tendency to overeat and to swallow air. Breeds likely to be affected should be fed smaller meals more frequently and outside periods of activity. A food bowl on to a low table is said to reduce the amount of air swallowed during feeding.


Liver failure or an obstruction in the excretion of bile can be caused by the accumulation of bile salts in the bloodstream and tissues. It shows as a yellow, sometimes almost orange discoloration of the skin, the mucous membranes in the mouth and of the whites of the eyes. Jaundice is difficult to detect in dogs well covered in hair, or with heavily pigmented skin, but is usually obvious in the mouth; it is almost always a serious sign of some underlying illness.


Unless a dog has been seen to ingest a poison (see Accidents & First Aid) in sufficiently large amounts to put the matter beyond doubt, the diagnosis of poisoning requires expert investigation. Dogs are fairly resilient and often readily vomit any noxious material they have eaten. Unfortunately all the signs of poisoning – vomiting, diarrhea. Convulsions, collapse, coma and death, as well as symptoms of nervous disorders, including dilated or constricted pupils, continuous eye movements, in coordination and paralysis – can be associated Any of these signs demands immediate contact with the local veterinary practice. If poisoning is suspected any evidence which might point to the ingestion of a toxic agent should be brought along.

Vomiting should be induced with a salt solutions only if the dog has been to swallow a known, non-corrosive poison.