338 — Intestinal Blockages: Prevention, Treatment, Recovery

Veterinary Voice_

Intestinal Blockages: Prevention, Treatment, Recovery

Dr. Marty Greer DVM shares some horror stories of what and why dogs eat things they shouldn’t that cause intestinal blockages. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, Greer said.

Puppy Proof Your House

Puppies explore their environment with their mouths, Greer noted. “If it’s smaller than their head, they may swallow it,” she said.

Be careful with your pets’ access to anything they can eat, bottom line. The dog that eats things often will repeat the behavior. The owners need to learn from the dog’s mistakes and be sure their environment is safe.

Even a crated dog isn’t always out of danger — be sure not to put anything on or near the dog’s crate.

Retrievers at High Risk

Teaching young dogs to trade something inappropriate in their mouths for a treat is a helpful way to set the dog up for success and avoid dangerous blockages.

Induce Vomiting

We have all been told to use hydrogen peroxide to make the dog vomit if you see it eat something inappropriate. Greer strongly recommends, instead, a trip to the vet for a dose of Apomorphine. This is a safer alternative than the peroxide, which can have dangerous side effects.

Difficult Diagnosis

Even when you suspect the dog might have eaten something, the x-rays are not always successful at showing a blockage. Cloth and non-metal items won’t show up.

A lethargic dog that doesn’t eat and has repeated vomiting, can’t keep down food or even water, is one that is going to be suspect for a blockage.

Pregnancy Increases Danger

Pregnant bitches may have nausea that they will try to assuage by eating whatever they can get ahold of, Greer said. Hyper awareness with them is imperative.


Intestinal blockage is a life-threatening situation. The dog will need emergency and often exploratory surgery. The recovery is extended and difficult. After surgery, the dogs are required to stay on IV fluids for 48-72 hours.


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