Intestinal obstruction in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Intestinal obstruction in dogs: causes, symptoms and treatment

Intestinal obstruction in dogs

An intestinal obstruction in dogs refers to the partial or complete blockage of fluid and food flow through the small intestines. This is actually a very common condition since dogs are very often indiscriminate eaters. During the time of an obstruction, the blood flow to the gastrointestinal tract can become compromised, leading to necrosis of intestinal tissue which can cause a  perforation.

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Causes of intestinal obstruction in dogs

There are several things that can lead to an intestinal obstruction in dogs. Most of the time, it has to do with the ingestion of a foreign body. Some other situations that may cause an obstruction to gastric outflow include:

  • Ingestion of objects that cannot be digested. Most commonly, these include bones and rawhides. It could also be toys, stuffed animals, towels, sticks, small balls, rocks, shoelaces, socks, hair bands, and ribbons.
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Hernia
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Intussusception
  • Intestinal stricture
  • Pyloric stenosis (narrowing of the pyloric sphincter)
  • Gastric dilation-volvulus (twisting of the stomach)

Symptoms of intestinal obstruction in dogs

Intestinal obstruction occurs in the intestines, but it can also happen in the stomach. Gastric outflow obstruction will result in the accumulation of ingested fluids and solids in the stomach. Some symptoms of intestinal obstruction include:

  • Vomiting in dogs
  • Diarrhea in dogs
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bloating
  • Inability to defecate
  • Tarry stools (with blood and/or mucus)
  • Not able to lie down

An intestinal obstruction may refer to two types:

  • Gastric outflow obstruction – obstruction to fluid and solids from the stomach to the intestines.
  • Small intestine obstruction – obstruction of fluid and solids inside the small intestine.

Treatment

If your dog is brought into the clinic right after he has ingested something the veterinarian will try to induce vomiting to produce the foreign object. In this case, he will be sent home and prescribed monitoring of his intestinal behavior. Sometimes, it might be too late for this treatment to take place.

Due to the life-threatening nature of an obstruction, the veterinarian will hospitalize your dog and provide him with fluids and electrolytes via IV. An enema might be applied if the object seems to be sliding through to speed up the process.

Treatment also includes taking care of damaged tissue and proper care in the hospital for 2-3 days and at home afterward.

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