Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Intestinal Blockage Surgery for Dogs

Intestinal Blockage Surgery for Dogs

Does your dog have a chewing and eating habit? If so, you may be worried about intestinal blockages. Left untreated, this condition can result in debilitating health issues and, in some cases, requires major surgery to save your dog's life. Our Parrish vets discuss symptoms and more in this post. 

How do intestinal blockages happen in dogs?

Bowel obstruction occurs when the stomach or intestines are partially or completely blocked. Intestinal blockages are a common cause for concern in all dogs, as obstructions can lead to several complications. These include food and water not passing through the gastrointestinal tract.

Obstructions can happen anywhere along the digestive tract. Certain types may pass through the esophagus but not the stomach. Others may pass through the stomach but not the intestines. They may also potentially get trapped within the intricate twists and turns of the intestines. 

Foreign bodies are the most common type of intestinal obstruction. Every pooch is at risk of swallowing unexpected objects like trash, toys, and more. Yarn, string, and rope fibers found on many items in your house can be dangerous as they can twist within the intestines. Additionally, tumors or masses are common bowel obstructions in older dogs. 

Can a dog die from an intestinal blockage?

Sadly, the issues mentioned above, in addition to others, can cause your dog to die of an intestinal blockage within three to seven days. A dog's prognosis and outcomes often depend on the nature of the blockage, the nature and severity of symptoms the dog is displaying, how long the object has been in your dog's system, and others. 

What are the symptoms of intestinal blockages in dogs? 

Unless you have seen your dog swallow a foreign object, you might dismiss symptoms of an intestinal blockage as an upset stomach. Symptoms include the following: 

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

If you suspect your dog has ingested a foreign object or they are showing the symptoms listed below, contact a veterinarian as soon as possible. 

Diagnosis of Intestinal Blockages in Dogs 

If you've watched your dog eat a foreign object, you may be wondering what to do next. Our Parrish vets recommend against attempting to retrieve the object on your own; this should be done by a veterinarian with the proper training. 

The vet will perform a complete physical examination of your dog, paying close attention to the abdomen. They may also order blood work to assess whether the blockage is impacting your dog's health. 

X-rays or other imaging techniques such as endoscopy may be required. This involves inserting a small tube with a tiny camera into your dog's throat and stomach while your dog is sedated. 

Treatment for Intestinal Blockages in Dogs 

Your veterinarian may recommend a surgical or non-surgical treatment option for an intestinal obstruction. Several factors, such as the location of the blockage, the length of time the object has been stuck, and the object's structure, shape, and size, can determine treatment options. 

In some instances, a vet may be able to remove the foreign object using an endoscope. If this isn't possible, your veterinarian will typically order X-rays or an ultrasound to discover the location and nature of the obstruction. 

Some foreign objects can pass on their own with enough time. Where intestinal blockage in dogs is concerned, the timeline of events and treatment is a critical factor in prognosis. If the item does not pass on its own and your dog displays any of the above symptoms, have them treated quickly. 

Vets at Ellenton Animal Hospital refer life-threatening, emergency cases to 24-hour animal hospitals nearby

Intestinal Blockage Surgery For Dogs

Dog intestinal blockage surgery is a major procedure that requires anesthesia. Following surgery, your dog will remain in the hospital for several days to recover.

To perform the surgery, the vet makes an incision near the blockage site in your dog's abdomen and removes the object. The length of surgery varies depending on the extent of damage to the stomach or intestinal wall.

Your dog's survival following intestinal obstruction surgery is contingent upon 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 performed before surgery will help determine how well your dog does after surgery. Naturally, the earlier surgery, the better.

As for how much your dog's intestinal blockage surgery will cost, many factors go into determining this amount. Your vet or emergency clinic can provide a cost estimate before any services are performed.  

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) 

The critical period for your dog after surgery is the first 72 hours. If the patient is doing well after 72 hours, they should recover, but there are still some risks:

After surgery and hospitalization, track your dog's activity and keep it at a minimum. For at least a week, limit yourself to short walks — you don't want their sutures to tear. Also, your dog will need a cone to prevent them from chewing on the healing incision.

During this time, it is critical to feed your dog small amounts of bland food before transitioning back to their previous diet. Additionally, ensure they are receiving adequate fluids to avoid dehydration.

Major surgery is a painful procedure. Your dog will not feel pain during the surgery, but he or she will almost certainly feel pain afterward. Your veterinarian will prescribe pain medication for your dog following surgery. Follow the instructions to keep your dog's pain under control and ward off infections.

Anesthesia can cause nausea in some dogs, and it is not uncommon for dogs to vomit. If necessary, your vet may also prescribe medications to ease your dog's nausea and vomiting.

Preventing Intestinal Blockages In Dogs

The most effective way to stop intestinal blockages is to cut exposure to non-food items.

  • 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 he is 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.

Is your dog showing signs of intestinal blockage? Contact your nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital near Parrish immediately.

New Patients Welcome

Ellenton Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Parrish companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact (941) 776-1100