Intestinal Obstruction In Dogs

Food needs to move from the stomach to the intestines for all the nutrients to be properly absorbed. The movement of food stuffs can be restricted due to foreign objects, polyps, ulcers, tumors, and an overgrowth of the stomach lining. Intestinal Obstruction In Dogs can be a partial obstruction or complete an may be due to foreign objects, bloat, tumors, incarceration such as constriction in a hernia, or telescoping of the intestines.

Small intestinal Obstruction

The symptoms of an obstruction in the small intestines include appetite loss, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, fever, dehydration, below normal body temperature, shock and abdominal swelling. The intestines can become distended due to an accumulation of gas, which can develop within the first twelve to thirty five hours have the obstruction. There will then be a loss of fluid into the intestine. If the animal is not treated, it can die from shock caused by the fluid loss within three to four days. If the obstruction is near the beginning of the intestine close to the stomach, it tends to cause severe, frequent vomiting. Untreated dogs can exhibit lethargy, weight loss, appetite loss and eventual starvation which can lead to the death of the dog within three to four weeks. This is an estimate and some dogs can survive longer.


Intussusception is when the intestine folds into itself like a collapsible telescope, which is why it is also known as telescoping of the intestines. It is more common in younger dogs who are under eight months old. The symptoms can include abdominal pain, vomiting, and rare bloody diarrhea. Diarrhea is more prominent in long term intussusception and can be passed with or without blood.

Intestinal Incarceration

Intestinal incarceration is when digested food becomes trapped in the intestine. The animal will have abdominal pain which turn to shock quickly. The incarceration in the affected intestine allows bacteria growth within the bowel loop which leads to death of the tissue which, in turn leads, to shock.

It is common for dogs who have a history of ingesting inappropriate items to continue this behavior despite experiencing discomfort from it in the past. It is important for the owner to tel the veterinarian about any strange eating habits the animal has and if the animal had access to inappropriate items such as yarn, fabric, sewing needles, string or similar objects. The veterinarian should also be told if there are any missing objects within the home. It is more common for dogs, rather than cats, to suffer abdominal infection or death due to ingesting foreign objects such as string or thread. The abdominal examination can show evidence of pain, enlarged organs, gas, thickened bowel loops, or peritonitis. The rectal examination can show evidence of blood, or the ingestion of non food items. X-rays of the abdomen may show masses, obstructions, bloat, abdominal fluid or foreign objects. Contrast x-rays or ultrasonography can help diagnose interussusception. And endoscopy procedure can help identify foreign objects, intussusception, and tumors. If an obstruction is diagnosed, an endoscope may be used to help in the removal of the object. If this is not possible, the animal may need to have surgery. If the animal is present with general symptoms of illness, like dehydration and weakness, the veterinarian may administer intravenous fluids. The overall mortality rate both intestinal surgery, in both the small and large intestine, is around twelve per cent. The recovery time for large intestinal surgery is longer than that of small intestinal surgery.

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