Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs

Intestinal obstruction in dogs is usually caused by the ingestion of foreign objects, but can also be caused by tumors blocking the intestinal passage. Read here how to recognize and prevent an intestinal obstruction and how to react correctly in an emergency.

An intestinal obstruction in dogs is always a medical emergency. If the intestinal passage is blocked or even closed, the dog’s state of health deteriorates more and more. An intestinal obstruction does not heal on its own and can lead to the death of the dog. Therefore, it is important to recognize symptoms early.

How do you recognize an intestinal obstruction?

In the case of intestinal obstruction, the chyme is no longer transported. This can occur in any part of the small intestine, duodenum, or large intestine. The closer to the beginning of the intestine the obstruction is located, the more severe the dog’s symptoms are.

The dogs almost always show vomiting and a rapid deterioration in their general condition. Feces may still be present. The stomach hurts, the abdominal wall is hard.

Other symptoms of intestinal obstruction are:

  • loss of appetite
  • constipation
  • severely reddened mucous membranes in the mouth
  • listlessness
  • increased temperature/fever
    shallow breathing

All of these are warning signs that should be watched closely. If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering from an intestinal obstruction, you should definitely visit a veterinarian or the nearest veterinary clinic.

What does the vet do if there is an intestinal obstruction?

The veterinarian examines the dog’s general condition and feels the abdomen for hardening. An ultrasound examination can already detect small changes in the intestine. To be on the safe side, the vet may also take an X-ray with a contrast medium.

An intestinal obstruction usually requires immediate surgery to save the dog’s life.

The vet puts the dog under anesthesia and opens the abdomen at the affected area. The blockage in the intestine is removed, and the intestine and abdominal wall are closed again. After the operation, the dog usually has to remain under veterinary supervision for a check-up. He gets antibiotics, painkillers, and IV fluids.

If his condition is stable, he can go home. Here he needs a lot of rest and should be supervised at all times. He must not lick or nibble on the fresh abdominal wound. This is ensured by a neck brace or a belly suit.

What Causes an Intestinal Obstruction?

When it comes to intestinal obstruction, a distinction is made between:

Mechanical bowel obstruction (obstructive ileus):

  • Triggers: Swallowed foreign bodies, parasites, invaginations, entanglements, and tumors in the intestinal passage
  • Organic intestinal obstruction (paralytic ileus):
    Triggers: nervous disorders, poisoning, circulatory disorders

Which dogs are most at risk for intestinal obstruction?

In principle, any dog can suffer from an intestinal obstruction at any time during his life. Young or very playful dogs that put indigestible objects in their mouths and swallow them while romping are often affected. In older dogs, tumors in the intestinal tract are a common cause of intestinal obstruction.

How can I prevent an intestinal obstruction in dogs?

Discourage your dog from picking up objects, and instead offer safe chews like buffalo hide bones. Put away children’s toys, sewing and knitting supplies, and don’t feed bones parts of which can be swallowed.

Take constipation in your dog seriously. If fecal balls form in the intestine and the congestion can no longer be released, intestinal obstruction can occur. For mild constipation helps:

  • high fluid intake
  • slight movement
  • Roughage and vegetable fiber supplements in the feed without sugar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of wheat bran over the wet food

If an intestinal obstruction in a dog is detected early enough and treated by a veterinarian, there are good chances of recovery. However, if it remains undetected or untreated for too long, serious abdominal injuries can result, leading to the death of the dog.

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