What Causes Intestinal Blockage in Dogs?

Gross as it may sound, you can learn a lot from your dog’s poop. The chances are high that your dog’s vet would be the first person to tell you that monitoring your dog’s poop is an important way to keep an eye on his overall health and well-being. The regularity, consistency, and contents of your dog’s poop are crucial for determining if he is hydrated, receiving the proper nutrients, and, most importantly, not eating foods he shouldn’t.

While it is impossible to control everything your dog puts into his mouth, it is relatively easy to monitor his behavior. Checking bathroom health is a crucial part of dog ownership, especially as it pertains to intestinal blockages in dogs. If your dog is unable to use the bathroom, you have a critical problem on your hands. While canine constipation can be severe, intestinal blockage is a recipe for disaster.

Let’s begin by defining the difference between constipation and intestinal blockage. Many dogs experience constipation, and some experience it regularly because of conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome or dietary allergies. 

The difference between constipation and intestinal blockages is the ability of your dog’s body to work through one of these two intestinal abnormalities. The most significant difference between constipation and an obstruction is that eventually, constipation subsides. Whether through medication or natural processes, constipation can be alleviated, whereas intestinal blockages more often than not require supplemental action.

So What Causes Intestinal Blockage in Dogs?

The most common cause of intestinal blockage occurs when your dog ingests something he is not supposed to eat. Eating foreign objects is the

most common form of intestinal blockage, and unfortunately, it is also one of the most dangerous.

When your dog ingests something his body cannot digest, it means that the item will not break down during the digestion process. This poses two hazardous threats:

1) If the item is too large, it will become lodged somewhere within the digestion tract, most commonly somewhere within the intestines. This not only prevents your dog from passing the dangerous foreign object, but it prevents other excretion from passing through, potentially causing sepsis.

2) If the item is oddly shaped, it could cause intestinal tearing as the body tries to push the object through the intestinal tract. Again, sepsis can easily occur, especially if the intestinal walls are torn by the object, and fecal matter can get into the bloodstream by way of the torn intestinal wall.

Both of these potential threats lead to the same ending of sepsis. Sepsis is the toxic result of fecal matter leaking into the bloodstream, causing the body to poison itself from the inside. Sepsis is a dangerous process as it happens extremely fast, and it is very hard to reverse. 

When talking about an intestinal blockage due to a foreign object, you may think that the object is something random like a child’s toy. The truth is that anything besides dog food is considered a foreign object. Things like bones, rawhides, rope, string, and even human foods can easily cause intestinal blockages in dogs. Here are some of the everyday foreign objects that cause intestinal blockages in dogs as listed by Wag:

  • Rope
  • Bones
  • Chunks of Rawhide
  • String
  • Hair
  • Chunks of shoe
  • Stuffed Animal Pieces
  • Human food

If your dog is a chewer, be extra careful about what you give him to chew on. While he may love tearing apart stuffed animals, the toys you offer your pup may be more dangerous for his health than you realize. 

While ingesting a foreign object may be the most common form of intestinal blockage, Pet MD lists these other causes of intestinal blockage as follows:

  • Intestinal Parasites
  • Gastroenteritis
  • Intestinal constriction
  • Hernia
  • Tumors
  • Twisting of the stomach
  • Intestinal folding

If you fear that your dog is suffering from an intestinal blockage, take him to the vet immediately as emergency surgery may be needed. Here are some telltale symptoms that your dog is suffering from an intestinal blockage according to the American Kennel Club:

To determine the course of action regarding your dog’s intestinal blockage, your vet will need to run a series of tests. There is a high complication rate with intestinal blockages, and as a result, surgical procedures are often required to fix the issue. Be sure to take your pooch into the vet as soon as you’re aware of any symptoms indicating an intestinal blockage. As is the case with so many canine emergencies, time is a crucial factor in ensuring your dog’s continued health and short-term safety.



“Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs – Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis, Treatment, Recovery, Management, Cost.” WagWalking, wagwalking.com/condition/intestinal-obstruction.

“Bowel Obstruction In Dogs: Symptoms, Treatment, and Prevention Tips.” American Kennel Club, 16 Jan. 2020, www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/bowel-obstruction-in-dogs-symptoms-treatment-and-prevention/.

“Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs.” PetMD, www.petmd.com/dog/conditions/digestive/c_multi_gastrointestinal_obstruction.

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