The Danger Of Intestinal Obstructions In Dogs

Posted on: 8 July 2015


Dogs love to chew, so it's little wonder that many dogs are seen for intestinal obstructions every year. Intestinal obstructions are caused by ingesting foreign objects and can be fatal if left untreated. By knowing how obstructions occur, and taking preventative measures, you can keep your dog feeling healthy and happy.

What Is An Intestinal Obstruction?

An intestinal obstruction occurs when a foreign body blocks the intestinal passage of your dog. This blockage may be whole or partial, but both types can be exceptionally painful or even fatal for your dog. When an obstruction occurs, the item causing the blockage causes fluid and other items to build up behind it. This buildup causes a high amount of pressure and proceeds to limit or cut off blood flow to the area. As soon as blood flow becomes limited to the obstructed area, the intestinal tissues will begin to die.

There are several key signs to look out for if you suspect your dog has an obstruction. Look for your dog to be acting lethargic and unlike their usual self. Dogs dealing with an obstruction may vomit profusely and strain while trying to have a bowel movement. Your dog may also avoid its food bowl and its abdomen may be tender.

Treating A Blockage

When you bring your dog in for an intestinal blockage, the vet will inspect your dog's abdomen for any lumps or protrusions. If your vet finds cause for concern, they may order x-rays to pinpoint the location of the blockage. 

When a blockage is found, our dog may need to have surgery. If a large obstruction is identified your vet will operate to correct any damage and to remove the blockage. If a smaller, less complicated obstruction is identified, your vet may call for a gastric endoscopy.

Preventing Intestinal Obstructions

When it comes to preventing intestinal obstructions in your dog it's best to start with what they chew on every day. Some treats and chew toys, especially rawhide, pose an obstruction risk to your dog. If your dog is an aggressive chewer make sure your dog isn't consuming any large chunks of toys, treats or rawhides. If you notice your dog demolishing a toy, take the toy away and give them a sturdier option.

Another step to take is to make sure any trash receptacles are firmly secured. Dogs are exceptionally attracted to old food containers. Additional items, such as plastic bags or shoes should also be stored safely out of your dog's reach.

You may also want to consider supplementing your dog's diet with canned pumpkin. For small dogs, use 2 teaspoons of pumpkin, for larger breeds use 2 tablespoons. Pumpkin is full of soluble fiber and water, which will help your dog have regular bowel movements. Be sure to use plain canned pumpkin and not pumpkin pie filling. Consult with your animal clinic before starting a new supplement routine with your dog.

An intestinal obstruction is a veterinary emergency, make sure to call your vet immediately if your dog exhibits symptoms of a blockage. They can quickly work to treat the obstruction and get your dog feeling better as soon as possible.