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Dog Intestinal Blockage Surgery - What You Need to Know

Dog Intestinal Blockage Surgery - What You Need to Know

Is your dog prone to eating things they shouldn't? Watch for signs of stomach blockages. Learn about the causes and symptoms and life-saving surgery for this condition seen by our local vets in Zeeland.

How Dog Intestinal Blockages Happen

In dogs, a big worry is when something blocks their digestive system, which includes the stomach and intestines. Blockages cause a number of complications, including preventing food and water from passing through his GI tract and decreasing their blood flow. Your dog can even die from an intestinal blockage within 3-7 days.

These blockages can happen in different parts of the digestive system. Some things might get stuck in the throat. At the same time, others may pass into the stomach but not into the intestines or become lodged in the intricate twists and turns of a dog's intestines.

The most common cause of these blockages in dogs is when they swallow things they shouldn't, like toys, trash, socks, or even dish towels. Strings, yarn, and ropes are especially dangerous because they can twist up the intestines. Watch out for lumps or growths that block the digestive system in older dogs.

Dog Intestinal Blockage Timeline

A common question is, 'Can a dog die from intestinal blockage?'. A blocked stomach can harm the intestines, potentially leading to tissue damage, a tear in the intestines, or even a rupture. Without proper care, dogs with a complete blockage usually pass away within 3-4 days.

Some foreign objects, given time, can pass on their own. However, regarding a timeline for intestinal blockage in dogs, time is of the essence. If the object does not pass on its own and your dog has the symptoms listed above, your dog will need to be treated as soon as possible.

If your vet believes the foreign object poses an immediate threat, they recommend emergency surgery.

Don't wait if your pet displays any symptoms of a dog intestinal blockage mentioned below—seek immediate veterinary care.

Signs of Intestinal Blockage in Dogs

Are you wondering if your dog might have a tummy problem? It's not always obvious unless you see them swallow something unusual. But, if your dog displays these signs, it's best to contact your vet promptly.

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Straining or unable to poop
  • Painful abdomen to the touch
  • Whining
  • Bloating
  • Dehydration
  • Restlessness
  • Aggressive behavior when the abdomen is touched

If you think your dog ingested something suspicious or they are exhibiting the symptoms listed below, call your veterinarian as soon as possible or contact your nearest animal emergency center.

Diagnosing Dog Intestinal Blockages

If you catch your dog eating something unusual, you might be concerned about how to help them pass it safely. However, it's crucial not to try this by yourself; your dog needs a vet's care. 

The vet will start by checking your dog's body, especially the belly area. They might also do some blood tests to see if the object is causing any harm to your dog's health.

Next, your dog will go to the vet's in-house diagnostic lab for X-rays and any other imaging technique required to try to see the foreign object. One such test is an endoscopy, a procedure that inserts a small tube with a tiny attached camera through your dog's throat and into the stomach. Your dog would be sedated for this procedure.

Treatments For Intestinal Blockage in Dogs

Treatment for intestinal obstructions can be surgical or non-surgical. Many factors go into this decision, including the location, how long the object has been stuck, and the size, shape, and structure of the object.

In some cases, a vet can retrieve the foreign object with an endoscope. If this is not possible, your vet likely will consult the ultrasound or X-rays to determine where (and what) the obstruction is.

Intestinal Blockage Surgery for Dogs

Intestinal blockage surgery for dogs is a significant procedure. During the surgery, your dog will be put to sleep with anesthesia. After the surgery, your dog will stay at the hospital and recover for several days.

For the intestinal surgery, your vet will make an incision into your dog's abdomen near the blockage site and carefully extract the object. The length of surgery can vary because they may need to repair any damage to the stomach or intestinal wall resulting from the obstruction.

The chances of your dog's survival after this surgery depend on a few factors:

  • Size, shape, and location of the foreign object
  • How long the foreign object has been stuck in the intestines
  • Your dog's health before the surgery
  • The physical exam and diagnostic tests that your vet performs before surgery will help them determine how well they think your dog will do after veterinary surgery. Of course, the sooner the surgery is performed, the better.

Dogs Recovery After Intestinal Blockage Surgery

The most critical period for your dog is the first 72 hours after surgery. If the patient is doing well after 72 hours, then they typically recover well, but there are still some potential complications:

  • Sepsis (blood poisoning)
  • Hypoalbuminemia (low protein count)
  • Dehiscence (Wound separation or opening)

After surgery and hospitalization, monitor your dog and keep their activity level very low. Stick to short walks for at least a week — you don't want their sutures to tear. Your dog will also need to wear a cone to keep them from chewing on the healing incision.

It's important to feed your dog small amounts of bland food before gradually transitioning to his previous diet during this time. Also, make sure they are getting enough fluids to prevent dehydration.

Major surgery is painful. Your dog won't be in pain during the surgery, of course, but will probably feel some discomfort afterward. Your veterinary surgeon will prescribe post-surgery pain medication for your dog. Be sure to follow the prescription instructions carefully to effectively manage your dog's pain at home and fight off infections.

Anesthesia can make some dogs feel nauseated after surgery, and it's actually common for dogs to vomit afterward. So, your vet may also prescribe medications to relieve your dog's nausea and vomiting, if needed.

Intestinal Blockage Surgery Cost

The price of surgery for a dog with an intestinal blockage can differ a lot. It depends on things like how serious the blockage is, how long it's been there, how long your dog needs to stay at the hospital, and other factors like your dog's health, age, and where you live. Talk to your vet or a veterinary surgeon to find out how much the surgery will cost for your dog.

Preventing Intestinal Blockages in Dogs

The best way to prevent intestinal blockages in your dog is to limit their chances of ingesting non-food material.

  • Putting things your dog may eat out of his reach.
  • Be vigilant about items in the house and track when they are missing.
  • Keep an eye on your dog while playing with his toys or chewing on rawhide or bones.
  • Keep your dogs from scavenging through garbage and debris (outside and inside the house).

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Have you witnessed your dog swallowing something they shouldn't, or are they showing signs of an intestinal blockage? Contact our vets in Zeeland Veterinary Service right away.

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