Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs: What to Do

intestinal obstruction in dogs

Let’s face it: dogs have quite the appetite. It seems that in the world of canines nearly anything and everything is edible. From the bread you left on the table, those new slippers you got for Christmas, the piece of meat you dropped in the kitchen, to the newspaper you left on the ground, these animals love to chew and eat whatever they can get their teeth on.

When it comes to eating, canines rarely discriminate. While this can be cute, annoying, and downright frustrating, it can also be extremely dangerous. When a dog eats something indigestible, they are at risk for intestinal obstruction. This ailment can be a serious health risk for your companion. Thus, it is paramount that you (as the owner) know what intestinal obstruction is and the steps to take if you suspect your dog is suffering from it.

What is Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs?

It is rather self-explanatory but intestinal obstruction is defined as a blockage in the intestines. In simpler words: the dog cannot digest and pass the contents they have previously ingested. The blockage can be firm enough that no fluids are capable of passing through. If the condition is severe, then blood flow is debilitated and it can, in turn, manifest into septic peritonitis. If left untreated, this condition can be fatal.

What Are the Symptoms of Intestinal Obstruction?

There is a large gamut of symptoms that surface from intestinal obstruction. Each dog will wear their ailment differently, thus it is important to know and understand the full range of symptoms. They will also vary depending on the type of intestinal obstruction, as it can refer to two; gastric and small intestinal obstruction. Gastric is a blockage between the stomach and small intestine while small intestinal is the obstruction of fluid or food through the intestine itself.intestinal obstruction in dogs

What Causes Intestinal Obstruction?

The most common cause of intestinal obstruction is ingesting something that is indigestible. This could be a bone, cloth, toys, rocks, hair ties, and honestly any object or material your canine is prone to chew on. This object then resists the stomach acid, does not break down, and blocks the passage. However, other causes include:

    • Tumors
    • Gastroenteritis
    • Gastric dilatation volvulus  
    • Intestinal parasites
    • Mesenteric torsion  


Generally, the most ubiquitous symptom is pain. The canine will experience bloating in their stomach, seem altogether more fragile, and demonstrate physical pain when you touch their stomach area (or any area close).

As you can see from the above there are a host of symptoms involved. However, they are not too different from what you would experience if your intestines were blocked. The loss of appetite, lethargy, stomach pain, and constipation are usually the ingredients that give this awful cocktail away. If you suspect your pup or full-grown canine is experiencing intestinal obstruction, then read below.

What to Do if Your Dog Has Intestinal Obstruction?intestinal obstruction in dogs

Immediately take your dog to the vet. If the pathway is indeed blocked, then there is little you can do as a home remedy to clear it out. By waiting to see if the canine passes it naturally you could be allowing more time for the blockage to build up and the condition to worsen. If you happen to witness your dog ingest something you know can cause blockage, then once you reach the veterinarian they will immediately induce vomiting.

If it is already past that point, then there a list of different treatment methods a veterinarian might employ—all of which are dependent on the severity of the intestinal obstruction (something they will identify using any method from x-rays to an endoscopy). There is a possibility the canine is hospitalized and fluid therapy is administered to help pass or digest the foreign body(s) or if it is extreme then immediate corrective surgery will need to be conducted.

Being that it is an invasive surgery, the dog will then be hospitalized for around 2-5 days, dependent on the efficacy of the procedure. As you can deduce, intestinal obstruction is not something you want to sit on. If you suspect that your dog is suffering from it, the only thing to do is take them to the veterinarian, have them examined, and then decide what procedure should be conducted afterwards.