Most dog owners think when the puppy reaches a certain age; they don’t have to be as concerned about everything that goes into their mouths. Right! Although puppies and younger dogs are the most common victims of intestinal obstruction, older dogs can also be at risk.

Be aware that if your dog’s vomit smells like feces, your dog is in a serious, life-threatening situation. What you smell is stool, which has backed up and cannot pass normally due to a blockage!

The most common causes of intestinal blockage

The main cause if this symptom is an obstruction or severe trauma in the lower gastrointestinal tract. The larger or sharper the obstruction, the greater the risk your dog faces of perforation, rupture and peritonitis.

Vets have removed an extraordinary variety of items from our canine companions! They include, but are not limited to, coins, hearing aids, holders, marbles, socks, T-shirts, batteries, rawhide, chewed crackers, bones, plastic wrap, tin foil, children’s toys, rope, string, bully sticks, balls (including a whole golf ball !), towels, wood, blankets, toys, cat litter, yarn, sticks, jewelery and nails/screws,

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms usually appear within 7 hours of consuming the item. However, it can take days in some cases before you notice that there is a problem. The most common warning signs that indicate something is wrong are periodic vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lack of appetite, pale gums, bleeding, weakness, lethargy, electrolyte imbalance, shock and possibly death.

Owners often get a false sense that the obstacle has passed if their pet has diarrhea. Don’t be fooled. Diarrhea can work itself around a blockage.

As a rule, upper gastrointestinal obstructions usually cause projectile vomiting.

Lower gastrointestinal obstructions usually cause a distended stomach and vomiting that smells like feces.

Intestinal strangulation blocks the flow of oxygen and blood, causing gangrene in the intestines.

Death can occur within a few hours.

Diagnosis/Prognosis

The sooner your pet is examined and the object removed, the sooner the recovery process will begin. Your vet will examine your dog by palpating the abdominal area to look for distension and tenderness. They will examine the gums to see if they are pale. They may suggest an X-ray to identify the object and locate the blockage.

Depending on the severity of the obstruction, or whether there are complicating factors such as perforation, rupture, peritonitis or necrosis, most dogs recover fairly quickly.

Treatments

Treatment usually depends on size, shape, how long the object has been ingested, and whether it is broken or perforated. Treatment to remove the object can be as simple as the vet inducing vomiting, or retrieving the object with an endoscope. Do not try to induce vomiting yourself.

Most likely, your dog will be dehydrated. Your vet may use IV therapy to rehydrate and antibiotics to prevent secondary infection. They will also most likely recommend rest, and a liquid or soft diet, before moving on to your dog’s regular diet.

If the object has passed the dog’s pylorus (where the stomach connects to the small intestine), surgery is necessary. Post-surgery requires rest, IV treatment, antibiotics and observation for leakage, followed by liquid diet, to soft food, to regular diet. They will likely need to stay in the animal hospital for a day or two after surgery.

Conclusion: Always check what your puppy or dog has in its mouth! Monitor what your dog chews, especially if he is aggressive or obsessive. If the object is small enough to get stuck in your throat, throw it out! If you know they are sneaky thieves, make sure items they shouldn’t have access to are well out of their reach. Don’t take any chances, if the vomit smells like poo, get help immediately!

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