Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs

bowel obstruction surgery patient

Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs

As many dog owners will know, dogs don’t just eat dog food. Dogs can eat all kinds of silly things, even things we didn’t think were the least bit appetising. Rubber balls, socks, underwear, sanitary items, corn cobs, plastic bags, string and skewers are just some of the things that dogs shouldn’t eat, but often do.

Most of the time us dog owners get lucky and the offending item is passed out in the next poo. Unfortunately though, not everything passes- and that is where the trouble starts.

How do I know if my dog has an obstruction?

An obstructed dog is often a very sick, unhappy dog. Below are some of the signs that obstructed dogs may show:

  • Vomiting- often excessive, unable to keep food or water down
  • Pain in abdomen
  • Assuming ‘prayer’ position frequently
  • Not eating or drinking
  • Lethargy

If you see the above signs in your dog you should head to your vet.

Intestinal Obstruction Is an Emergency

An intestinal obstruction must be surgically corrected as soon as possible. The longer the bowel remains obstructed the more damage it incurs. In serious cases, bowel obstruction in dogs can cause a rupture and result in death. When your vet suspects a gastrointestinal obstruction they will take x-rays or perform an ultrasound on your dog. If obstruction is confirmed then your dog will be rushed into surgery.

How can I prevent foreign body obstruction in my dog?

All dogs are at risk of gastrointestinal obstruction, but some need to be watched closer than others. Puppies and highly food motivated dogs (such as retrievers and Labradors) frequently eat foreign objects.

Dog owners should try not to leave high risk objects where dogs can reach. High risk objects include socks, underwear, sanitary items, corn cobs, food packaging and skewers. Many many other items can also cause an obstruction, so if you see your dog eating anything that is not dog food, you should stop them.

The reality is that dogs cannot be watched all the time and it is impossible to stop a determined sneaky dog from ingesting a foreign object.

I saw my dog eat a foreign object. What do I do?

If you see your dog eating a foreign object you should attend your vet immediately. Depending on the object, your vet may make your dog vomit up the offending item before it causes an issue. Ideally this is done within an hour after ingestion, before the stomach empties.

If your dog ate the object a few hours ago, call your vet for advice on how to proceed.

Get pet insurance!!!!

Planning ahead will save you and your dog.

The cost of dog surgery for an intestinal blockage or obstruction is expensive. Gastrointestinal foreign bodies are emergencies, and most pet insurance companies will pay for surgery and treatment. All dog owners should ensure their pet is covered by pet insurance. You can get pet insurance quotes and sign up quickly online. Brands that you may choose to use include Petplan, Woolworths and RSPCA.