Swissy Lick and Splenic Torsion in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Swissy Lick and Splenic Torsion in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog

Health & Safety

The Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is generally a healthy breed, but like other deep chested large breeds they are prone to suffer from a condition which is known as lick and splenic torsion which is a very painful disorder that requires immediate veterinary attention because it is life threatening.

The condition explained

When a Greater Swissy Mountain Dog develops the condition, it sees their spleens rotating on its own axis which could be towards the stomach or away from it and it may do this several times should a dog’s spleen rotate away from the stomach. The spleen expands because it is full of blood. When a spleen rotates away from a dog’s stomach all too often it is pulled which then results in dogs suffering from gastric torsion which could prove fatal if not treated as a matter of urgency.

Signs to watch out for

Unfortunately, when a dog suffers from splenic torsion and the stomach is not involved, the signs of there being something wrong are not immediately evident and each case tends to vary quite a bit. With this said symptoms associated with splenic torsion may include the following:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Mild fever
  • Stomach tucked up
  • Tenderness when abdomen is touched
  • A slight swelling of the abdomen
  • Pale gums
  • Fits of licking which can be extreme

Sadly, a lot of vets are not familiar with the condition, so it is important for owners to be aware that their dogs may have developed Swissy lick and splenic torsion when they take their dogs to be examined.

The causes

The actual causes of the condition remain unknown, but it would appear that like other deep chested dogs, the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is more predisposed to developing splenic torsion. Studies have shown that dogs over the age of five tend to be more at risk, but younger GSMDs can also be affected.

Treatment options

Once the condition has been successfully diagnosed, a vet would recommend carrying out a surgical intervention sooner rather than later which is known as a splenectomy. The procedure would need to be carried out under general anaesthetic and it involves removing a dog’s spleen. A vet would typically also carry out a stomach tack (gastropexy) at the same time should they feel it feasible to do so.


Many Greater Swiss Mountain Dog suffer from the condition and it is thought the disorder could attribute to many deaths within the breed. As such, owners must be aware of the symptoms and get their dogs to the vet as soon as they feel there might be something wrong. In short, it is better to be ultra-careful and wrong than to wait for any length of time before having a dog examined which could prove fatal.



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