If your dog has a chewing and eating habit, you may be concerned about intestinal blockages. Our Sharpsburg veterinarians see this serious condition a lot. If left untreated, it can result in debilitating health problems and, in some cases, requires major surgery to save your dog's life.
How do intestinal blockages happen in dogs?
Bowel obstruction, when the stomach or intestines are partially or completely blocked, is a common cause of concern in all dogs. Blockages result in several complications. These include food and water not passing through the gastrointestinal tract. Within 3 to 7 days, your dog can die of an intestinal blockage.
Obstructions can occur anywhere along the digestive tract. Certain types may pass through the esophagus but not the stomach. Others may pass through the stomach but not the intestines. Or they become trapped in the intricate twists and turns of the intestines.
Most often, intestinal obstructions are caused by foreign bodies. Playthings, garbage, and a host of other items are among the unexpected items that any dog may swallow. Because they can twist in the intestines, fibers from string, yarn, and rope can be hazardous. Furthermore, bowel obstructions in older dogs are frequently caused by masses or tumors.
What are the symptoms of intestinal blockages in dogs?
How can you tell if your dog has an obstruction in his intestines? If your dog hasn't swallowed anything foreign, you may brush off symptoms of intestinal blockage in dogs as being just an upset stomach. Among the symptoms are the following:
- Loss of appetite
- Straining or unable to poop
- Painful abdomen to the touch
- Aggressive behavior when the abdomen is touched
If you think your dog ingested something suspicious or they are exhibiting the symptoms listed below, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Diagnosis For Intestinal Blockages In Dogs
If you saw your dog eat a foreign object, you may be wondering how you can help. But now you shouldn't attempt it on your own. Your dog requires veterinary care.
Your vet begins with a physical examination, paying close attention to the abdomen. Further, they may perform blood work to assess if the blockage is affecting your dog's health.
When X-rays and other imaging methods are required, your dog will visit the on-site diagnostic lab. Endoscopy is one such test. Your dog's throat and stomach will be punctured to accommodate a tiny tube that contains a tiny camera. Sedation is used during this process.
Treatment For Intestinal Blockages In Dogs
Surgical or non-surgical treatment options are available for intestinal obstructions. Several factors influence this decision. These include location, the length of time the object has been stuck, and the object's size, shape, and structure.
A veterinarian may be able to remove the foreign object using an endoscope in some instances. If this isn't possible, your vet will usually consult ultrasound or X-rays to learn the location (and nature) of the obstruction.
With sufficient time, some foreign objects can pass by themselves. Time is of the essence, though, when it comes to a dog's intestinal blockage timeline. Take your dog to the vet right away if it doesn't go away on its own and shows any of the symptoms listed above.
If your vet determines that the foreign object is life-threatening, they'll order emergency surgery.
Intestinal Blockage Surgery For Dogs
Dog intestinal blockage surgery is a major procedure that requires anesthesia. Following surgery, your dog will remain in the hospital for several days to recover.
In order to remove the object, your dog's veterinarian will make an incision in the abdomen close to the blockage site. Depending on the degree of damage to the stomach or intestinal wall, the surgical procedure has varying lengths.
Your dog's survival following intestinal obstruction surgery is contingent upon a few factors:
- Size, shape, and location of the foreign object
- How long the foreign object has been stuck in the intestines
- Your dog’s health before the surgery
The physical exam and diagnostic tests performed before surgery will help determine how well your dog does after surgery. Naturally, the earlier the surgery, the better.
Contact your vet directly if your concerned about the cost of intestinal blockage surgery for your dog. They should be able to give you an estimate.
Dog's Recovery After Intestinal Blockage Surgery
The most critical period for your dog is the first 72 hours after surgery. If the patient is doing well after 72 hours then they typically recover well, but there are still some potential complications:
- Sepsis (blood poisoning)
- Hypoalbuminemia (low protein count)
- Dehiscence (Wound separation or opening)
The critical period for your dog after surgery is the first 72 hours. If the patient is doing well after 72 hours, they should recover, but there are still some risks.
After surgery and hospitalization, track your dog's activity and keep it at a minimum. For at least a week, limit yourself to short walks — you don't want their sutures to tear. Also, your dog will need a cone to prevent them from chewing on the healing incision.
During this time, it is critical to feed your dog small amounts of bland food before transitioning back to their previous diet. Additionally, ensure they are receiving adequate fluids to avoid dehydration.
Surgery, especially major surgery, hurts. Although your dog won't feel pain during the procedure, it's highly likely that they will afterwards. Your dog will receive pain medication from your veterinarian after surgery. Pay attention to the directions in order to prevent infections and manage your dog's pain.
Anesthesia can cause nausea in some dogs, and it is not uncommon for dogs to vomit. If necessary, your vet may also prescribe medications to ease your dog's nausea and vomiting.
Preventing Intestinal Blockages In Dogs
The most effective way to stop intestinal blockages is to cut exposure to non-food items.
- Putting things your dog may eat out of his reach.
- Be vigilant about items in the house and track when they are missing.
- Keep an eye on your dog while he is playing with his toys or chewing on rawhide or bones.
- Keep your dogs from scavenging through garbage and debris (outside and inside the house).
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.