Is your dog struggling to poop? Is he constantly retching and vomiting? And has he been refusing meals and looking miserable? Maybe he has something stuck somewhere in his gastrointestinal tract.
Dogs are notorious for always sniffing things they find lying around, and they take almost anything they find interesting into their mouths.
When a dog swallows a hard object that cannot be digested and also too big to pass through the digestive system, this may cause an obstruction resulting in constipation and enormous discomfort for the poor creature.
Bowel obstruction is fairly common in dogs, especially younger ones. Find out if your pup is having a painful episode of bowel obstruction and what you can do for him.
 What is a bowel obstruction in a dog?
A bowel obstruction is a partial or complete blockage of the gastrointestinal tract that prevents the passage of fluids and solid food. This blockage may occur either in the stomach or intestines, and sometimes it may be in the oesophagus; the tube linking the mouth to the stomach.
When bowel obstruction is localized in the stomach, it’s called gastric outlet obstruction which is the piling up of both solid food and fluids in the stomach, preventing them from natural moving into the intestines.
While an obstruction of the small intestines is an accumulation of food and other ingested substances in the intestines and can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.
Bowel obstruction is a common condition in dogs, especially younger dogs who tend to sniff and eat almost anything that can fit into their mouths. The common cause of gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs is due to ingesting objects they shouldn’t, but in rare cases it can be caused by a tumour, especially in senior dogs.
 What are the symptoms of a blockage in a dog?
There is no one symptom associated with bowel obstruction in dogs. The symptoms shown by a dog with a blocked gastrointestinal tract is very similar to symptoms of many other illnesses in dogs, this makes it almost impossible to diagnose bowel obstruction merely by looking at a dog.
The diagnosis is usually by imaging, however, the first sign of bowel obstruction in dogs is usually loss of appetite and vomiting. The discomfort that comes with a blocked esophagus, stomach or intestines will cause the dog to completely lose interest in food.
A dog with a blocked stomach or intestines will be very uncomfortable and in pain, and you may observe them pacing or drooling. Also watch for efforts to throw up, a dog with a blockage will retch to try to vomit whatever is stuck in the gastrointestinal tract, especially if the dog swallowed something that caused the blockage.
With the passage of time, the dog may start to show other symptoms such as lethargy, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and depression. Intestinal blockage in dogs can be severe, and in rare cases prolonged obstruction can cause intestinal rupture, septicemia and possibly death.
 Mineral oils vs olive oil; do either of them fix an obstruction?
The best way to deal with intestinal blockage is by letting a vet handle it professionally as a complete blockage can be very dangerous and there isn’t an easy way of telling the extent of blockage a dog may have.
However, if you want to administer first aid to ease the pain and possibly get the object to gradually move through the gastrointestinal tract and out of the dog’s system, you can use a few drops of mineral oil.
To do this correctly, use your dog’s weight to determine the appropriate and safe amount of mineral oil to administer. For every 10 pounds, use 1 tablespoon of mineral oil, and do not pour it directly into your dog’s mouth as this may cause aspiration. Instead, mix it with a small portion of your dog’s food and let him eat it.
After this, the constipation should start to let up in about 6 to 8 hours, but if it doesn’t, then you should quickly get your dog to a vet. Giving your dog another mixture of mineral oil with food can be dangerous as an overdose of mineral oil can cause constipation and worsen the situation.
You should know that mineral oil doesn’t always work so do not try to push too hard. While trying to help your dog go through the painful condition of bowel obstruction, also be very observant and know when the expertise of a vet is needed.
Watch your dog to make sure that he’s physically stable, check his breathing rate, heartbeat and behaviour. If he’s not eating, lethargic, vomiting and depressed, please take him to a vet ASAP.
 Can a dog poop with an obstruction?
If a dog swallows something that it shouldn’t, sometimes it may pass through the gastrointestinal tract without any problem. Objects such as very tiny stones or crayons may pass through a dog’s GI tract without causing an obstruction, but this will also depend on the breed and size of the dog.
However, in many cases, objects that are too rough or too big like toys and sticks can be dangerous and cause serious blockage in a dog’s digestive system. A bowel obstruction can be partial or complete depending on the cause. A complete blockage of the gastrointestinal tract due to a foreign object or a growing tumour will not permit the passage of food or fluid, in which case, the dog will be unable to poop.
Bowel obstruction can be very serious as an object causing a blockage can puncture the GI tract and cause something more serious, and if not promptly handled by a vet may deteriorate and become gangrenous.
Besides that, intestinal blockage causes lots of discomfort for a dog, and it’s important to quickly put the poor creature out of misery as soon as possible. Most times, a bowel obstruction will need an examination and surgery to get whatever is causing the obstruction, be it an object or a tumour, out of the dog’s system.
If you suspect that your dog may have something stuck in his system, it’s important to take him to a vet as soon you possibly can because the longer the obstruction stays the more damage it may cause.
 How long can a dog live with an intestinal blockage?
Without prompt and appropriate treatment, intestinal blockage can become a lot more serious and life-threatening within a few days. A rough object with protruding ends such as sticks, bones, certain toys, rocks, etc., can puncture the stomach or intestines and quickly cause an extremely painful and life-threatening condition for the poor dog. If left untreated, complete intestinal blockage will kill a dog within 3 to 4 days.
On the other hand, partial intestinal blockage will take more time. A dog with partially blocked intestines can live for 3 to 4 weeks and will suffer serious pain and discomfort with other symptoms such as frequent vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and loss of appetite and weight.
 How much does dog intestinal blockage surgery cost?
Intestinal blockage surgery costs anywhere between $900 to over $2000, depending on which part of the GI tract the object is stuck, what type of object you have lodged in, and lastly, how severe or complicated the situation has become.
A veterinarian handles intestinal blockage by first conducting a physical examination, using ultrasound, endoscopic exam or X-ray, the vet determines what object is stuck and the exact location where it is along the dog’s digestive system.
Removing an object stuck in the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine or colon can cost between $900 to $1500, while removing a tumour causing a blockage can be more severe and complicated and possibly cost more.
 How long does it take a dog to recover from intestinal blockage surgery?
After an intestinal blockage surgery, a dog will start to feel better and get active within a few days. But this is usually too soon for the dog to be up and about.
If your dog just had an intestinal blockage surgery, they need to be closely watched afterwards and protected from themselves, naturally they would like to start to get very active and play around almost as soon as they can but you shouldn’t let them.
The dog will need rest, lots of care and pampering for the first 2 weeks after the surgery before they are fully ready to become active and play around as usual. You can use a crate to restrict your dog’s movement to ensure they get the amount of rest they need, while making sure they’re accurately given the prescribed medication.
A foreign object that’s unable to smoothly pass through the gastrointestinal tract of a dog will get stuck somewhere along the intestines or the stomach and cause a blockage. Bowel obstruction in dogs is obviously a very painful condition, but don’t expect your doggie to learn from one mistake. Dogs really can’t help themselves and as a dog parent, keeping your little cutie safe is part of the job. Also remember to keep the house and yard free of objects that can put your dog at risk of bowel obstruction.
¹ Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash
² Photo by Jordan Whitt on Unsplash
³ Photo by Gavasinder Singh on Unsplash
⁴ Photo by david pacey on Flickr
⁵ Photo by Christian Lue on Unsplash
⁶ Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash