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Bowel Obstruction

Dogs experience bowel obstruction because they love to chew, and end up swallowing nondigestible objects like sticks and stones, parts of toys or even shoes they have chewed on. Sometimes the object is small enough that it can pass through the dog and they are fine.

Sponges and rubber-type material that swell in the intestinal tract or large or sharp-pointed items that lodge in the intestines cause blockages or lacerations and need to be surgically removed as soon as possible, or they could kill the dog. When the blockage is high up in the intestinal tract, projectile vomiting will occur, and your pet may not be interested in eating. A blockage lower down also causes vomiting, but it will be less frequent, dark brown, and smell like feces- the abdomen will also swell. If you notice these symptoms, or if the vomiting is severe or prolonged and his condition is worsening, take your pet to the vet immediately. If you even suspect that your pet may have swallowed something he shouldn't have, be sure to monitor him closely and take him to the vet if you notice any changes such as decreasing appetite, decrease in energy, vomiting, trouble going to the bathroom, etc.

Not all of these symptoms need to be present to signify trouble. Look out for any unusual behavior or signs that your pet may have ingested something that he shouldn't have.

When you know that the object the dog swallowed is small, you can wait 24 hours to let nature work it out. As long as your pet still feels well enough to eat and drink without vomiting, try feeding the dog 1 and a half times the normal serving size. This should encourage increased bowel activity and help the object pass.

Keep an eye on your pet. Make sure the dog is eating and especially drinking normally and watch constantly for signs of intestinal upset. If the dog does not pass the object within one day, the dog should see a vet.

Watch for signs of shock- untreated bowel obstruction becomes dangerous if the blood supply in the intestines is cut off. This happens when the tissues around the obstruction swell and hinder the flow of blood. Without free bloodflow, the tissues can die. A pet in this situation has a very tender tummy that can feel hard like a board. After a while, he goes into shock and the gums become pale, and he may collapse. To fight the shock, wrap the dog in a blanket to keep him warm and put a drop or two of Karo syrup and honey on his gums to help keep him conscious. Get him to a vet immediately.

Dogs who have had one bowel obstruction are at risk for a repeat. They tend to eitehr have a habit of swallowing the wrong thing, or they develop scar tissue inside the intestines that make it more difficult for even small items to pass. Avoid giving them bones or rawhide chews that can be swallowed. Pet-proof your home by picking up anything that your pet might swallow or by making potentially troublesome areas off-limits with baby gates or closing the door. Be careful when choosing toys for your pet. Squeeky toys and small balls are some of the most common causes of obstructions.

If you have children, keep a close eye on their toys when the dog is around, and make sure all toys are picked up when you leave the house. Just because it's not technically a "dog toy", that doesn't mean that your dog will not chew or eat it.