How to Treat Intestinal Blockage in Dogs

By Valerie A. Modreski

Canine intestinal blockage is a serious condition and all dogs are susceptible. If you suspect your dog is suffering from intestinal blockage, have him examined by his veterinarian immediately. Your veterinarian will reach a diagnosis through a variety of diagnostic tools. Treatments vary, and recovery depends on the severity and duration of the blockage and the age and health of your dog.

Causes and Treatment Options

If your dog is suffering from canine intestinal blockage he will be hospitalized. The most common treatment includes surgery to remove the obstruction, followed by intravenous fluids to avoid dehydration. If the blockage is located in the small intestine, the cause is often something he ate trapped in the confines of this narrow region. Other causes for intestinal blockage include tumorous growths, inflammation from infection, parasites and hernias. Intestinal malfunctions can be the cause of a blockage where a portion of the small intestine doubles over itself, or a condition in which the intestines twist and become knotted. Most of these conditions require surgery, but an infection or parasite blockage can be treated with antibiotics or antiparasitic drugs.

Surgical Urgency and Postoperative Care

To ward off further complications, immediate attention is essential when your dog has an intestinal blockage. Without immediate action, your dog might suffer from dehydration, bowel necrosis, electrolyte imbalance and sepsis along with the intestinal blockage. He should stay at the vet's office for at least a day, perhaps longer, depending on your vet's recommendation. After surgery, the vet provides fluid to keep the dog hydrated and monitors his temperature and blood pressure. The vet also watches for signs of related problems such as disgorging, which results in an electrolyte imbalance, and signs of toxins in the blood. This occurs if the blockage damaged the protective lining of the small intestine. Prior to his release, hospital staff ensures your dog can hold down fluids, digest a bland food diet and pass a normal bowel movement.

Intestinal Blockage Diagnostic Procedures

When your dog is suffering from symptoms of an abdominal problem, the vet uses a variety of diagnostic tools. While an ultrasound provides the most accurate results of the problem, because of availability and comparative low cost, radiography might be considered. If abdominal radiography proves insufficient, another imaging technique called tomography might be used. The vet also might opt for an endoscopy. An endoscopy is a miniature camera connected to a small tube that is guided through your dog's mouth while he's under anesthesia. This procedure allows veterinarians to retrieve biopsies of intestinal tumors or unclog some of the matter causing the obstruction.

Post Operative Care

After your dog's hospital stay, monitor him closely. Because of the potential for postoperative vomiting and diarrhea, make sure your dog is drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration. Restrict his exercise and activity, and don't initiate play for a couple of weeks. Your dog's postoperative diet should be a bland one recommended by your veterinarian, with a gradual return to his normal diet. Small amounts of fish or meat broth, accompanied by noodles or rice, is typically suggested. After a few days and with the vet's permission, give your dog spoonfuls of a quality canned dog food every three hours. Keep an eye on your dog's incision and immediately report any swelling, redness or seepage. After you bring your dog home, take him back to the vet for scheduled post-operative exams to ensure he's healing properly.