The purpose of this article is to bring awareness to first time Great Dane owners of Stomach Torsion, which is the number one killer of Great Danes. We are sure that you probably have many questions about this problem, and this article attempts to answer the most frequently asked questions about the problem.


What exactly is stomach torsion? Stomach Torsion, or

“twisted stomach”, is exactly that. The stomach twists

and turns, and in fact flips over. Most commonly accompanied by

bloat which is an expansion of gas in the stomach, the result is

the cutting off of blood circulation to the stomach. If left

uncorrected, the stomach literally dies. This is fatal to the


What causes stomach torsion/bloat? The precise cause of

stomach torsion and bloat is still unidentified by the AVMA.

There are many different factors, and many different schools of

thought as to what causes this emergency. Contributing factors

may include genetics, stress or anxiety, large feedings, and

exercise following feeding.


What are the symptoms of stomach torsion/bloat? The

most obvious symptom is distended stomach, obvious pain, the dogs

refusal to lie down. Most often these symptoms are late in the

progression of the stomach twist. Earlier symptoms can include

repeated retching or trying to throw up without anything coming

up, excessive salivating, a hiccup-like movement of the head

(this may be a difficulty swallowing, and should be

differentiated from puppy hiccups). This list of symptoms is

based on my own experience with my own dane who twisted and the

discussion that I have had with my own veterinarian, not on any

veterinary manual.


What do I do if I think my Dane is having this problem?


torsion/bloat have been known to kill in as little as 45 minutes.

There is no time to waste. It is very important for Dane owners

to know exactly where your closest Animal Emergency Clinic is,

and know how to get in touch with your own vet.


How can I prevent this from happening to my Dane? There

are many ways to cut down the chances of this happening to your

dog, including the following:



    1. Feed your dog several small meals a day, instead of one

      large one.


    1. Crate your dog or ensure that the dog’s activity is

      restricted for at least 60-90 minutes following each



    1. Put a couple of simethicone tablets in your dogs food

      with each meal. This is the active anti-gas ingredient in

      Maalox anti-gas, DiGel, and Phazyme. Walmart sells a

      generic anti-gas tablet that is straight simethicone (80

      mg), it comes in a turquoise blue bottle with a purple

      and white label (I think it’s just called Anti-Gas

      or Gas). This will cut the cost drastically because 1 of

      these equals 3 Maalox tabs.


    1. Soak your dogs dry food for at least 1 hour before you

      feed, this allows you to monitor exactly how much food is

      actually in your dogs stomach at once, because the food

      has already expanded to its full capacity.


    1. The most effective way to prevent this from happening

      to your Dane is to have its stomach surgically tacked

      into place. The procedure is called a circumcostal

      gastropexy, and actually takes part of the stomach and

      attaches it around the last rib. After surgery, the

      healing process allows the muscle to actually grow in

      this permanent position. Once this occurs, even if your

      Dane would happen to bloat, there is not a risk of the

      stomach twisting and thereby killing the dog.



I highly recommend this preventative measure be taken. I have

been through the horror of a stomach torsion with one of my own,

and simply would not ever take the risk of it happening to

another. There is a huge range in costs for this procedure here

in Dallas. I have received quotes of $300-$1100 for the

preventative surgery. I highly recommend the following vet, who

is a strong proponent of this preventative surgery, has done many

of them, and currently charges around $400 for the surgery:


Dr. Kent Cooper, Carrier Animal Hospital, Grand

Prairie, Texas (972) 262-1581


There are some very informative websites which we recommend

you look over. Many links to these sites are found at the

following site:


Written by Ronda Mink

Great Dane Rescue Connection, Inc.


P.O. Box 270705

Flower Mound, TX 75027-0705

(214) 888-6590