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Greater Swiss MD and Lick Fits, Bloat and GDV

I’m part of a really informative FB Swissy group and have read a lot about Lick Fits (breed specific), seizures (the Twitchy Swissy), bloat/GDV and spleen torsion (yet another FB page on spleens) - all common within the breed. My girl is almost 2 now and she was spayed and had gastropexy to help prevent GDV with torsion (she can still bloat, just not torse with her stomach tacked fingers crossed).

The other night she had her first lick fit. I knew the symptoms from reading about it on the FB page, but it is quite unusual and she was obviously in distress. Things I read to keep on hand is bread/milk, simethicone and some pepcid to relieve gas. Its basically an empty stomach or GI issue, and she happened to get in my garbage and ate half a loaf of bread and some raw brussel sprouts (known for gas!) a few hours before her episode. It starts with licking in the air, then licking the floor, walls, trying to eat carpet or anything in her path, totally panicking. When I briefly took her outside she ate clumps of grass, sticks, trees, whatever she could get a hold of. I did give her some bread and some simethicone to try to relive her stress/gas as she was burping and in discomfort. If left too long, it can lead to bloat as they gulp in air as they try to eat and lick everything, so I did try to get her as comfortable as possible and as quickly as I could. She does have her stomach tacked, but it could still fill with air/gas and can have an emergency trip to have her tubed to get the gas out.

All in all, it took about 30 mins for it to stop, and she fell right back asleep like nothing ever happened. I patted her stomach as she burped and got more comfortable (tell me they are not big babies!!).

Things I have read to help prevent these issues - don’t feed gassy foods (brussel sprouts, cabbage etc), give several small meals a day, feed something just before bed time so they don’t have an empty stomach for long, Keep bloat buster (simethicone), pepcid, bread and milk on hand.

For bloat “prevention” I do feed raw, but this happens to raw fed or kibble fed dogs (it does not discriminate). Look for symptoms such as retching, hard stomach, vomiting up bile or nothing at all. If this happens, take to emerg right away - your dog can pass within an hour without surgery. I don’t feed 1hr before or after walks/exercise (heavy stomachs can torse easier than empty/light ones).
Don’t feed with an elevated bowl as this can increase air consumption - feed on the floor.

I just wanted to add some of the bloat/GDV as I have been hearing of this more often from owners who have never heard of it before and they have lost their dogs to it, as they didn’t know the symptoms (from a great dane owner, german sheppard owners, golden owner - all passed from GVD and owners were unaware of the symptoms or preventatives - and all within a few months) nor did they ever hear of a gastropexy. It honestly cost me an extra $350 when I was having her spayed and I would have this procedure done even if I had a lab or golden, as I have heard of them even bloating, though it is rare (any animal with a deep chest that has the room for the stomach to flip).

I’m sure a lot of people on here are aware of these issues and what to look for, but just in case you didn’t, if I can help out one owner/pet, that will make my day.


Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. It must be so scary at first when you see the licking fit. I am glad your beautiful girl was able to go back to sleep after her fit. And I am glad you knew the signs and what to do.

Regarding the gastropexy, I have a lab cross and when she gets spayed (if she was your dog) you would have this done? She turns 6 months old in Jan and I will be scheduling it then.

Again, thank you so much for sharing.

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I personally think a conversation with your vet on gastropexy surgery for your pup would be a great idea, though I would ask a vet who actually performs this type of surgery. They would have the best knowledge and would steer you in the right direction and give you the best advice (and I would do it for sure, but thats just me). Not all breeds are susceptible to bloat, but you would be surprised on the high risk breeds (hounds, large breed dogs, Weimaraners - any breed with that wide chest).

The only reason why I say to ask a surgeon who performs this type of surgery is my vet does not perform pexis nor did they recommend it to me. When I spoke with some people who lost their dog(s) to Bloat, none of them had the surgery recommended to them by their vet nor have they ever heard of it before, until it was too late. The Dane I knew bloated, had surgery and then they did the gastropexy while he was opened up, but he did not survive the recovery unfortunately. That owner was kicking herself for not getting it done when he was neutered.

I did some research on it and asked her breeder who highly recommends gastropexy surgeries, so I called around. There was some fairly large price differences, so if you do decide to do it, be sure to call around and get some recommendations on clinics and check out the pricing. My first quote was about $4500 for laparoscopic spay/pexi and I called around and found a great clinic for just under $2000 for the same surgery and a better vet (goggle rating and I looked her up at the College).

I also did research to see if a pexi can have any negative health effects on a dog, and there were no negative remarks/reviews on this. Just positive reviews

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THIS. Thank you !! Peace of mind is so important. I am going to search around. I have some time before she turns 6months.

Again, thank you so much for sharing your insight.

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Thanks for typing this. Thirty years ago I had an ACD who ended up with all sorts of unusual things wrong with her: severe allergies (before there were meds for it), erhlichia (when it was so unknown that she was in a Texas A&M study to figure out what was going on), and then she’d do this thing, randomly, where she’d lick anything, be in distress, gulp, vomit and retch and it would go on for hours.

I was broke. I was young. I took her to the ER vet the first time this happened and they were, like, I dunno, never seen this, it’s weird: try Pepto?

Over the years, for reasons I don’t know, it subsided. I never knew there was a term for what happened to her, nor have I heard of it happening to any other dog - so I’m glad to know I’m not alone.

In our bumbling way, I found that it’d improve faster if I gave her Pepto and then took her for a very long, slow walk - the kind of walk that you stay in the street with no sniffies (because she’d try to eat all the grass). Just a slow walk. Have you ever put a colicky horse in a trailer for a short ride to see if they’ll poop and the colic improves? That’s kind of what those walks did somehow. It made her focus on something else, I guess, and the movement kept things moving, more or less.

Anyway. I appreciate this post, and it brought up old memories of that battle ax of a dog. I still miss her.


On the Swissy group, they say to walk them in the middle of a street so they can’t grab anything and to keep their mind off of their belly. So very similar to a colicky horse just as you say! After meds, a long slow walk, belly rubs to help get the gas out, and most dogs are ok 30 or so minutes later. No pain killers needed, but gas x or bloat buster and bread really does work!

To prevent it, I read to give them something before bed like ginger snaps, or even just some sort of snack, so I make sure my girl gets something around 9pm then I’m up around 4am with her and she has her breakfast. So far she’s only had it once, and I’m sure it was due to her eating some of my garbage.

I’ve never heard of any other breed having lick fits, so that’s very interesting! It’s scary when it happens but at least I knew what it was and what to do. I can’t imagine it happening to me and I had no clue on what was going on. Very smart of you to figure out to go for walks and to keep your pup away from the grass. It’s sad and upsetting to see them In such distress and amazing on how quickly they grab things and “inhale” them. I was literally dragging her away from my grass with both hands and trying to grab the gobs of sod and dirt out of her mouth!


We had gastropexy done on our GSD when he was neutered. The only weird thing is that he takes longer to pee, even two years after the surgery. :confused:

I do appreciate the peace of mind we have because of the surgery. We still follow all the same feeding rules, however. We lost our first GSD to torsion.

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Common within the breed? Yikes!