By Karen A. Soukiasian
Most dog owners think once their puppy reaches a certain age; they don’t have to be as concerned about everything that goes into their mouth. Not true! Even though puppies and younger dogs are the most common victims of intestinal obstruction, older dogs can also be at risk.
Be aware, if your dog’s vomit smells like stools, your dog is in a serious, life-threatening situation. What you smell is feces, that has backed up, and cannot pass normally, due to a blockage!
Most Common Causes of Intestinal Blockage
The major cause if this symptom is an obstruction or severe trauma to the lower gastrointestinal tract. The larger or sharper the obstruction, the more risk your dog faces of perforation, rupture and peritonitis.
Veterinarians have removed an extraordinary array of objects from our canine companions. They include, but are not limited to, coins, hearing aids, retainers, marbles, socks, T-shirts, batteries, rawhide, unchewed biscuits, bones, plastic wrap, tin foil, children’s toys, rope, twine, bully sticks, balls (including a whole golf ball!), towels, wood, blankets, toy stuffing, cat litter, yarn, pins, jewelry, and nails/screws.
Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms usually appear within 7 hours after ingesting the item However, it may take days in some cases, before the you notice there is a problem. The most common warning signs indicating something is wrong are intermittent vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, lack of appetite, pale gums, bleeding, weakness, lethargy, electrolyte imbalance, shock, and possibly death.
Owners often get a false sense the obstruction 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 commonly cause a distended abdomen and vomit that smells like feces.
Intestinal strangulation blocks the flow of oxygen and blood, causing gangrene of the intestines.
Death can occur in a matter of hours.
The sooner your pet is examined and the object is removed, the sooner the recovery process will start. Your veterinarian will exam your dog by palpating the abdominal area to check for distension and tenderness. They will examine the gums to see if they are pale. They may suggest an x-ray, to identify the item, and locate the blockage.
Depending on the severity of the obstruction, or if there are factors that complicate the situation, such as perforation, rupture, peritonitis or necrosis, most dogs recover fairly quickly.
The treatment usually depends on the size, shape, how long the item has been ingested, and whether there is any rupture or perforation. Treatment to remove the object could be as simple as your veterinarian inducing vomiting, or retrieving the object with an endoscope. Do not attempt to induce vomiting yourself.
Most likely, your dog will be dehydrated. Your veterinarian 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 your dog’s pylorus (where the stomach connects to the small intestines), surgery is required. Post surgery requires rest, IV therapy, antibiotics, and observation for leakage, followed by liquid diet, to soft food, to regular diet. They probably will have to stay at the animal hospital for a day or two following surgery.
Bottom line: Always check what your puppy or dog has in their mouth! Supervise what your dog is chewing, especially if they are aggressive or obsessive chewers. If the object is small enough to get caught in their throat, throw it out! If you know they are sneaky thieves, make sure objects they should not have access to are well out of their reach. Do not take any risks, if their vomit smells like poop, get help immediately!
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