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Detect, treat and prevent intestinal obstruction in dogs

Intestinal obstruction in dogs

A functioning digestive tract is essential for your dog's health. However, various problems can cause digestive disorders. One of these is intestinal obstruction, which is unfortunately quite common in dogs and causes massive discomfort.


Below you can read about the causes of intestinal obstruction in dogs, the symptoms it causes, and why it is so dangerous for your dog. We will also explain when a dog with intestinal obstruction is a case for the vet and what is required for successful treatment.

What is a bowel obstruction in dogs?

An intestinal obstruction disrupts the functioning of the bowel and blocks all or part of its passage, preventing the flow of food. As a result, the intestinal contents accumulate and begin to ferment and rot. For affected dogs, an intestinal obstruction is extremely painful and associated with extremely harmful processes in their bodies.


Gases and bacteria damage the intestinal wall and can lead to the death of individual sections of the intestine as well as to cracks. Without treatment, intestinal obstruction is virtually always fatal for dogs.

Causes of intestinal obstruction in dogs

Basically, there are two different forms of intestinal obstruction, which in turn can have different causes. One always speaks of a mechanical ileus when the dog's intestine is blocked by a physical obstacle.


A paralytic or functional ileus is an intestinal obstruction caused by organic diseases of the digestive tract.

Possible causes of mechanical bowel obstruction in dogs

In most cases mechanical intestinal obstruction in dogs is caused by swallowed foreign bodies. These can be stones, small toys, bones, pieces of wood or even chestnuts.


In principle, any indigestible foreign body that does not fit through the dog's intestines due to its size can lead to intestinal obstruction. As young dogs are more inclined to take objects in their mouth and accidentally swallow them, they are much more likely to suffer from mechanical ileus compared to older animals.


In addition to foreign bodies, however, a massive infestation of intestinal parasites, gallstones, tumors, and twisting or entanglement may be a possible cause of mechanical ileus in dogs.

Possible causes of functional intestinal obstruction in dogs

If a dog suffers from a functional intestinal obstruction, this is often caused by disturbances in the nervous system, which can lead to a standstill of intestinal activity.


Other possible causes of paralytic ileus include inflammation, circulatory disorders and poisoning. In some cases, functional intestinal obstruction can also be caused by pancreatitis in dogs.

Symptoms of canine ileus

An intestinal obstruction in dogs is not only noticeable through problems with defecation. It also leads to numerous other complaints and severe pain, which often manifests itself by taking up the so-called prayer position.

The following symptoms, among others, may indicate intestinal obstruction in your dog:

  • Frequent vomiting
  • Weakness and exhaustion
  • A hardened and bloated stomach
  • Striking red mucous membranes
  • Tachycardia and respiratory problems
  • Fever or low temperature
  • Touch sensitivity on the stomach
  • Feed refusal
  • Grass eating
  • Absence of defecation

A dog with intestinal obstruction must go to the vet

A dog with intestinal obstruction must go to the vet

If you suspect that your dog is suffering from an intestinal obstruction, there is no way around a prompt visit to the vet. Without treatment, it is only a matter of time before the ileus in your four-legged friend leads to death.


Depending on the dog's condition and the symptoms that occur, the vet decides which methods to use for the examination. As a rule, he will first palpate the four-legged friend's abdomen, measure the fever and take a look at the inside of the mouth.


Afterwards, the vet will use an ultrasound scan to check whether your dog actually has an intestinal obstruction. In many cases this is sufficient for a reliable diagnosis. However, it may also be necessary to take additional x-rays.


If the cause is unclear, it may even be necessary to open the abdomen for diagnostic purposes, which may then be immediately followed by a life-saving surgical procedure.

How to treat an intestinal obstruction in dogs

Which treatment measures are necessary depends on the exact cause and severity of the intestinal obstruction in your dog. If a swallowed foreign body is responsible for the ileus, it often has to be removed surgically.


However, it is also possible that the administration of laxatives or antispasmodic medication may be sufficient to remove the ileus in your dog. However, you should never make this decision yourself, but should definitely leave it to your vet.

Preventing bowel obstruction in dogs

As you can see, intestinal obstruction in dogs is a serious matter. Ideally, you should therefore make sure that your four-legged friend does not develop an ileus in the first place.

These measures can reduce the risk of intestinal obstruction in your dog:

  • Make sure you eat a balanced diet with a sufficiently high proportion of raw fibre, which we ensure in our dog food with dried beet pulp.
  • Do not eat low quality dog food with artificial additives.
  • Larger amounts of bone have no place in your dog's diet.
  • A sufficient liquid supply supports digestion.
  • Your four-legged friend's toy should not be able to be bitten easily.
  • Natural chews are suitable to satisfy the chewing instinct of your four-legged friend.
  • Avoid toys that are too small and that your dog can easily swallow.
  • Chestnuts, nuts and stones are generally not suitable dog toys.
  • Regular exercise stimulates intestinal activity and helps to prevent intestinal obstruction in your dog.
  • Soft snacks with dog

  • Always treat intestinal parasites such as worms and Giardia in your dog promptly and thoroughly.

Pay attention from an early age to what your dog puts in his mouth and establish clear rules in this regard.


In this way, you will significantly reduce the risk of your dog swallowing a foreign body and suffering from intestinal obstruction.

Healthy dog snacks from Bellfor

The appeal of taking unsuitable objects such as stones or chestnuts in the mouth is naturally reduced the better you provide your dog with food and treats.


As a tasty reward for in-between times, we therefore recommend that you reach for our healthy dog chews.


High-quality meat and the absence of artificial additives make our dog snacks an excellent choice for a species-appropriate diet that helps to counteract digestive problems such as intestinal obstruction in your dog.


Now collect food for your dog!

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