Symptoms and dangers of an intestinal obstruction in dogs

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If any problem or object obstructs the journey through the gastrointestinal tract, our dog will suffer what is called an intestinal obstruction. This can cause serious complications, so it is important to go to the vet urgently.

Intake of foreign bodies is usually the most common cause of obstruction. So it is a more common problem in puppies. The vet will have to restore the intestinal circulation as soon as possible to avoid damage as serious as necrosis of the intestine. Do you want to know the symptoms of this pathology and its treatment? Let’s go there.

Index of contents

  • 1 Characteristics of intestinal obstruction
  • 2 Which dogs suffer from intestinal obstruction?
  • 3 Presence of foreign bodies
  • 4 Intussusception
  • 5 Other causes of intestinal obstruction in dogs
  • 6 What is intestinal strangulation?
  • 7 How do I know if my dog ​​has an intestinal obstruction?
  • 8 What is the treatment for a bowel obstruction?
  • 9 Can you prevent intestinal obstruction?

Characteristics of intestinal obstruction

Intestinal obstruction It is the blockage of the gastrointestinal tract, so that the passage of liquids or food is prevented. This stopper can interrupt circulation totally or partially.

Symptoms of a partial intestinal obstruction include intermittent vomiting and diarrhea that does not stop for weeks. It is a situation that requires veterinary attention, but the severity is less than in the case of complete obstruction. With it, the symptoms are as follows:

  • Projectile vomiting, in which the expelled material leaves the mouth violently. It is characteristic of an obstruction in the first part of the small intestine.
  • Swelling of the abdomen.
  • Vomiting brown with the smell of stool.
  • If the dog does not defecate or expel gas, it is a sign that the obstruction is complete.
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Which dogs suffer from intestinal obstruction?

Any breed of dog can be affected by this problem potentially serious. But it is more common in puppies or younger adult dogs. Intussusceptions are also seen more at these ages.

This is because its most common cause is the ingestion of foreign bodies, more frequent in dogs still in the typical exploratory phase of growth. A bone-based diet can also cause this type of obstruction.


Presence of foreign bodies

The ingestion of objects that end up lodged in some point of the gastrointestinal tract and that cannot be eliminated by the natural mechanism is the leading cause of intestinal obstruction in dogs. These can gobble up everything.

Bones, toys, sticks, stones, chips, needles, clothing, balls, ropes, etc., any one of which could cause an intestinal obstruction. Also, if these objects are sharp, they can perforate the intestines and cause peritonitis.


After foreign bodies, the formation of an intussusception is the second most common cause that we can find in dogs with intestinal obstruction. In intussusception what happens is that a fragment of the intestine invaginates or folds into another.

The image would be that of a sock that is turned over. Intussusception is more common in the area where the small and large intestines meet. The invagination can be increased to the point of dragging the small intestine.

Other causes of intestinal obstruction in dogs

Less frequently, obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract may be due to tumor formation, the appearance of narrowing or stenosis or the umbilical and inguinal hernias that manage to imprison the intestinal loops inside.

  • All about inguinal hernia in dogs
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Adhesions in the area due to abdominal surgery can also cause intestinal obstruction. Adhesions manage to hit organs or tissues. In very young puppies, in rare cases, the presence of a very high amount of roundworms forms a ball of yarn capable of causing death due to intestinal obstruction.

dog-eating-a-stuffed animal

What is intestinal strangulation?

Strangulation it is a very serious complication that can appear in the intestinal obstruction. What happens is that the obstruction interferes with the blood supply to the intestine. Without proper blood circulation, the intestine gangrene, that is, the tissue dies in just a few hours. It is a true emergency situation.

The dog can die when peritonitis occurs, which is the inflammation of the cavity where the abdominal organs are housed. It can be localized or generalized. In the latter case, of extreme gravity, symptoms such as the following appear:

  • Very intense abdominal pain that even causes moans with minimal manipulation.
  • The dog stops moving.
  • Vomiting
  • Belly up and hard as a board.
  • Dehydration
  • Weak pulse.
  • Fast and difficult breathing.
  • Cold and pale gums.
  • The dog with peritonitis can collapse and perish in just a few hours.

How do I know if my dog ​​has an intestinal obstruction?

If we suspect that our dog has ingested a foreign body or detect symptoms such as those mentioned, we should go to the vet quickly. In the clinic, the professional can reach the diagnosis by performing abdominal x-rays. A bowel obstruction shows distended, gas-filled bowel loops and some foreign bodies.

What is the treatment for a bowel obstruction?

These cases will need surgical resolution to remove the obstruction so that normal flow can be restored. If any portion of the intestine is already gangrenous, the healthy ends of the intestine must be cut and sutured back together. In extremely severe cases of peritonitis, the dog must be stabilized before surgery.

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Can you prevent intestinal obstruction?

Basically we must keep the dog away from foreign bodies that may pose a risk to its safety. These precautions are essential for puppies, with a tendency to ingest any object. We should also check their toys regularly for any deterioration. You only have to offer those specific for dogs.

On the other hand, it is not a good idea to b
ase your diet on the bones or offer them those small, sharp or easily fragmentable. In addition, it is necessary to go to the vet with the slightest suspicion of obstruction to avoid, as much as possible, its serious complications.