VetClick Discussion Forum


canine bowel obstruction surgery

Posted by Debbie 
canine bowel obstruction surgery
April 15, 2004 07:07PM
My 2 year old doberman has had 3 surgeries to remove foreign bodies from his intestines. He is in the hospital again with another blockage. What are his chances for surviving another surgery?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
April 16, 2004 09:09AM
Hi, Debbie,
Removal of an obstructiion from the bowel almost always to some extent reduces the diameter of the bowel where it was cut to remove the foreign body, and may well be the site of subsequent obstruction. Every time such an operation - 'enterotomy' - is performed, the chances of re-obstruction increase. If the FBs were removed from the stomach itself, this is less of a problem.
However, you have to accept some of the responsibilty for repeat blockages - if you know that your dog has a habit of picking up and swallowing objects likely to obstruct, he should always be exercised under supervision, wearing a muzzle, and care shold be taken not to leave possible items lying about the house. You do not say what items have caused his obstructions in the past, so I cannot comment further.
Marie Hildebrandt
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
November 05, 2007 09:12PM
I breed Boxers and I have a 10mo old male boxer who just went thru emerg surgury to remove part of his intestine and bowel.. I believe the vet said 2' of bowel.
Anyway, he is in recovery but he is very very very thin. He is at the clinic under hospitization care. He is eating and drinking on his own and they are feeding him ID & Ad canned foods. He looses a lot when he goes to the bathroom..his stools are so loose that he just sprays all over. My vet is trying to get the flora back into his gut with yogart now.

He has concerns that because of removing so much of the intestine and bowel that this dog may not recover control of his bowel or be able to have a normal stool. The best he has been since the sugery which was on 10/29 is a cow pie type stool over this past weekend but that has not lasted and he's returned to the spray stool. Weight gain is big problem. My vet has indicated that this dog may not have quality of life and that if he continues with the loose stool
that I should consider the putting him down. I would not want to do that without doing my very best for him because he has so much heart and is trying so hard to survive.

I am unsure of the cause of this type of problem. Apparently, this isn't that common. Any suggestions as far as weight gain or anything else that we may do to aide him.

Thank you,
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
November 06, 2007 09:01AM
Hi, Marie,

Two inches of bowel removed is not excessive,and should not in itself produce any problems, unless it was from one or teo specific bits - for example the duodenum or the ileoc caecal valve.
I am surprised that ID is not helping more. Pancreatic enzyme capsules in his food may help.
One point - 10 is a fair age for a boxer. Has he had liver function tests carried out?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
January 25, 2008 06:25PM
Are there any other options from having this surgury done on your pet? My black lab somehow got his harnes off and ate it, although a lot of it has passed he is still having difficulty. I have tried liquid diet, but now he isn't eating at all. Also, what is the success rate of the surgury?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
January 26, 2008 12:22PM
Hi, Cori,

The question is, is he vomiting?
If he is not, the obstruction is probably still passing through his bowel, and will eventually be passed.
If he is vomiting, an x-ray could show where the obstruction is, and your vet could assess the need for surgery.
Surgery for removal of a bowel obstruction is usually successful unless it has been left for too long,and part of the bowel has to be removed, a much more serious operation.

Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
April 23, 2008 04:56AM
Thank you for putting this together.
Our problem is with a 7 month old english bulldog. The vet has said he has megaesophagus.His throwing up started about 2 months ago after he ate a piece of plastic food rap. He eats small meals 4 times a day standing up then is kept in a upright postion for 15 min.. About 2 cups total.It is chopped and mixed in water to make a slush recomended by our vet.His bowel movements seem solid and normal.We have been fighting with his lungs for about a month now.
Is it possible the plastic rap has caused a blockage to set the pattern to mimic the megaesophagus?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
April 23, 2008 11:18AM

I think it quite possible that the plastic has caused the problem.
Having said that, however, megaoesophagus is 100% confirmable on X-ray.
If it is confirmed, it is very difficult to treat and I would suggest that you ask for a referral to a gastroenterological specialist.

Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
March 13, 2010 09:09PM
First of all, I would like to note that I interpreted the original post as 2 FEET removed from a 10 MONTH old dog. Huge difference between inches and feet and months and years in this case.

I am no expert, by any means. In fact, I'm in day 2 of my own personal experiences with this surgery. My 3 year old yellow lab mix started vomiting on a Wed. morning and we noticed what looked like a piece of pantyhose in the vomit. (I know, I know... WHY?) Upon investigation we discovered that he had indeed eaten both legs off of a pair of pantyhose my daughter wore for school pictures. By Wednesday evening I was alarmed, but not panicked. I was still hoping that he would pass the rest of the foreign object on his own. However, by Thursday morning I knew we had an emergency situation. My dog had started trembling, had become lethargic, was completely uninterested in food. In fact, he attempted to drink water, but would vomit it all back up immediately. He was brought to the vet at about 8:30am and dropped off for an xray and an exam - and of course I assumed he would need surgery in the condition he was in. Nothing showed on the initial xray, but he did have a distended abdomen, bunched up bowels, and seemed to be in a lot of pain. We decided to go in for the surgery and hoped it would be a simple removal. Not so lucky. My vet found a knotted up piece of pantyhose in his stomach, but the rest stretched through his small intestine. His intestine did not have to be removed, but an incision was made in 3 different places and he had to have the intestinal wall repaired from the pantyhose actually cutting through the intestines. Also, my vet noted that the pancreas had already started looking bad from working so hard due to the injuries and foreign body. Looking back, I can't even imagine how much pain this dog was in. I only waited about 12 hours from when I knew we really had a problem, but the dr. told me that had I waited another 24 hours he probably would have been dead. Also, the dog was sent home the same day as the surgery with a lot of serious recovery instructions. He's on a prescription canned food that has to be blended with water until forming a slush and fed small amounts several times a day. He's on 2 different antibiotics and pain meds. He is wearing an elizabethan collar to prevent him from aggravating his stitches. His surgery was only 48 hours ago, but he's eating and drinking, getting up and around, and seems to be in good spirits. Overall, I have faith that he'll make a complete recovery. I only caution other pet owners not to wait too long in a bowel obstruction situation. It was confirmed that my dog NEVER could have passed this through his system, so he was basically a walking timebomb..... definitely trust your instincts, they're usually right and you could easily save your dog's life. The entire vet's office expressed to me at separate points how glad they were that I brought him in when I did....
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
March 14, 2010 08:53AM
Hi, Jessica,

You would not believe some of the things gthat I have removed from inside dogs - from
a pair of rugby socks to a complete panty-girdle!
Anything long and this, such as a pir of tights, or a stocking, or even a long piece of string can cause this 'bunching' in the bowel, requiring svereral incisions to remove it.
I hop all goe well from now on.

debbie ayres
surgery to remove an obstruction in the intestines
April 07, 2010 12:54PM
my 4 year old staffie managed to get hold os a corn on the cob unknown to me (who knows where from!) and after being sick for a day was taken to the vet, the vet asked about the possibility of chewin gtoys etc that may have got stuck but we answered no as there were not any parts of any toys missing etc so then went along the lines of it being 'gastric' and administering an injection for his stomach and another to stop the vomitting, we were to give it around 48 hours and he should be on the mend... well 48 hours later he was still being sick and the colour had darkened and had now started to smell rather bad, being the Easter break we were unable to get him into the same vets and then opted for the emergency route. he had x rays and they found that yes there was a blockage and also a rather large amount of gas built up behind it in his gut (as he hasn't been to the toilet since it started either) they operated that afternoon and removed it to find it was a section of corn on the cob, they said that the gut itself was damaged due to it being stuck for so long and it looked extremely 'angry' it is now day 3 after surgery and they have taken him off the drip as he has re-hydrated and they have managed to get him interested in taking a small amount of chicken and rice, and he has managed to pass a small amount of very loose poo and it was 'frothy' he is also still being a little sick but hasn't been for nearly 18 hours. they have said that he can come home today and i am very worried that i amy not be able to look after him as well as they could, but.... i will follow the discharge sheet and the food preparation etc to the letter and give all medication as advised and keep my fingers crossed. i hope he is a strong little dog and repairs himself from the inside with the TLC i can give him :-) is it too soon for him to be coming home ?
Re: surgery to remove an obstruction in the intestines
April 08, 2010 07:39AM
Corn cobs are notorious for causing bowel instruction in dogs which swallow them whole.
If you have detailed instructions from your vet on how to look after him,and stick to them he would probably do better at home than in the practice accommodation for his recovery.
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
July 15, 2011 01:17AM
My nine year old pug had surgery about 2 days ago - they removed a sock from his intestine. Not sure where he got it from or why he would eat it since he has never eaten anything but food. He is still at the hospital and I have been visiting twice a day. He seems to be a little better today but he still has only eaten a small amount of chicken and rice and had a little vomiting this evening. He has not eaten tonight.

I lost a boxer to bowel obstruction a few years ago - he ate 8 tampons from my daughters garbage pail. It was incredibly traumatic. He died two days after the surgery - on autopsy we learned that the stitches had come out and he was septic.

I am extremely worried about my little pug and have him at the best animal hospital in the area - they have a 24 hour staff and no dog is ever left unattended. I would like to know if it is normal for him to still not be eating two days after surgery?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
July 17, 2011 04:41AM
Socks are one of the worst foreign bodies to have in the gut. I have a rule for gut surgery - if the patient is not eating after 24 hours it should be opened up again because it is likely that the gut wound has not healed and is leaking - it is better to open the patient up and find all is ok than to wait because if peritonitis sets in then the prognosis is much worse.
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
July 19, 2011 12:22AM
My 3 year old boxer just has surgery on Saturday because he had 2 tampons stuck in his stomach that he was unable to pass. Because the tampons had gotten to the stomach wall and settled, it rubbed two small holes in the stomach and stomach fluids had leaked out into the body. My dog is still at the vet and has been doing well (eating, drinking..etc) but this afternoon he began to run a low grade fever. I am so worried that he will develop peritonitis. What are the chances that peritonitis will develop? If it develops, what are the odds of survival for my dog?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
July 21, 2011 06:54PM
Unfortunately it is not really possible to give a figure as to the chances of peritonitis developing, but as a general rule most patients that are eating after bowel surgery do not develop peritonitis in my experience. I presume the vet removed the area of the stomach wall with the holes in it and resutured this - the stomach is much less likely to leak post operatively than the intestine. The important thing is to remove as much contaminated material by flushing the area after surgery which I am sure your vet has done. If peritonitis does develop then the best thing is to open up the patient and flush out the abdomen as soon as possible because once peritonitis really gets going the prognosis is much much worse.
Re: canine bowel obstruction
August 04, 2011 04:52AM
I recently lost a dog to bowel obstrucion. We are now starting to think about getting another dog. I am very scared of this happening again. I wanted to know if any breeds are more prone to swallowing foreign objects in the first place and developing subsequent blockages? Also for future reference if a dog is seen injesting something that it shouldn't is there anything which it can be given to either make it vomit or to help it pass the object with more ease? Are larger breeds less likely to have an obstruction due to their size? Finally our dog lost condition very quickly when he became ill. He was only a small terrier weighing 8 kilos. Our vet said that the smaller dogs often go down faster. Is a larger breed more likely to survive such an ordeal?
Re: canine bowel obstruction
August 07, 2011 06:26AM
There is no particular breed association, although certain breeds are known to be scavengers by nature eg labradors; eating foreign bodies tends to be the habit of young dogs generally and due to their size things get stuck more easily. Bowel obstruction is much less common than most people and most vets think and I would be inclined to select the breed of your next dog based on the characteristics that you like and suit your lifestyle as well as upon the tendency of various breeds to get other diseases eg heart disease, because there is much more chance that these will be a genuine problem.
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
August 22, 2011 05:10PM

I'm a bit desperate. I would appreciate any information or leads to someone that might be able to help me. I'll try to be brief but there's so much to tell.

My 5 year old chocolate lab started losing weight and vomiting in March this year. After an ultrasound was performed, the vet found 2 masses that were blocking his intestine. She said that it was most likely cancer and she performed the surgery in the hopes it didn't spread. She actually found 2 big masses and 4 very small ones at the time of surgery, she was able to cut the portion of intestine that was affected and sew the ends back together. After the biopsy results came out we were relieved to hear that it was not cancer. She couldn't believe it and we were all excited. However, at the same time she couldn't figure out what caused this, the only explanation to this could be maybe he was infected with Pythiosis or he swallowed something that caused a really bad infection, she had already discarded any other illness she could think of. He is not the type of dog that swallows strange objects, he doesn't touch anything in the house except his toys and always under supervision. We are located in NH and we've never heard of pythiosis in our area, there have never been any cases here. Our vet sent a blood sample to the Univ of Louisiana to have him tested and the test came back negative. After this the only explanation that remained was that it had to be a really bad infection and decided to monitor him with follow up ultrasounds.

He had an ultrasound performed the first week in July. It showed that it appeared he had developed adhesions and while they are common in humans and not impossible in dogs, they were quite uncommon. His vet decided that he should come back for an ultrasound in 2 months.

Up to this time Baxter has been doing amazing, he recovered completely from surgery and his appetite was ferocious - even though before his illness he's always being a picky eater. We couldn't be any happier and felt so blessed.

However, about a few weeks ago, his pickiness came back. I tried to enhance his food with chicken, rice, etc. We thought this was normal, he tends to get bored with his food after a few months and since he's been on ID all this time, we thought he was just craving something else.

And just about over a week ago he was put on antibiotics due to an infected boil he developed in his ankle. He's lost his appetite since then, has been nauseous and looks sad. Our vet thinks it might be the antibiotics causing this and we should not think the worst. But I can't help it, these are the same symptoms he had before and I'm so afraid he's developed another blockage. We won't know for sure until he's done with the antibiotics and he has his next ultrasound.

I trust completely in his vet, she's been nothing but great through all this journey. But what if this masses are appearing again? what next? what else can this be? there's got to be an explanation we need to help her find. He is our boy and we don't want to lose him. I would appreciate any feedback.

Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
August 22, 2011 06:20PM
Well from what you say your vet seems to be very thorough and on the ball. If you could let me know what the pathology report said about the lumps that were removed I will be able to be clearer about my advice.
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
September 06, 2011 12:54PM
I am in the midst of my 3rd round of obstruction with my 4 year old lab. He has had 2 surgeries in the past 2 years after eating strange, unusual things (2 stainless steel balls about 1# each AND a 3" bolt). The second time he ate a rubbery, putty like blob of matter that ended up lodged in his intestine. Well, guess what? He hasn't eaten or drank anything since Saturday morning after vomiting. I'm sure he has eaten something again. I guess I am torn - when is enough enough? It's hard on him, it's hard on us and it's a financial burden. The vet thinks he has a mental condition causing this unusual behavior. I can't afford another surgery but I don't want to say goodbye to my friend either. In the end, what is best for him? Days of sickness, not eating followed by IV sedation and abdominal surgery leaving behind an 8" incision to heal. Once - ok. Twice - wow. Third time - ????
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
September 15, 2011 06:57AM
I really sympathise with you. Part of the problem is that after each surgery there is a tendency for the bowel to narrow at that point and so more likely things won't get stuck. Many years ago I had a similar patient that I operated on 4 times for foreign bodies over a 3 year period and I was sorely tempted to stitch its mouth up so nothing very big could get down! In the end the owner kept a basket muzzle on the dog whenever they took it out so that it could not swallow anything and I never operated on the dog again so that is what I would advise. At home you just need to make sure there is nothing within reach which I know can be very difficult.

Sorry for the delay in replying but I have been on holiday.
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
September 28, 2011 08:18PM
my 10 month old Lab had emergency surgery due to an adhesion to her small intestine following surgery 7 weeks ago to remove an obstruction. The Vet said it was very rare in dogs, but the inital op to remove the obstruction had four incision sites due to 'pantyhose' cheese wiring the intestine. This time my poor lab was very poorly. She had septaecemia and peritionitis but is 16 days post op and is amazingly well - a true miracle dog.
However, in the last emergency op she had to have 40cm of intestine removed (small intestine I think) the vet has put her on three meals a day so her smaller bowel can cope. I have just one question, due to less surface area in the bowel that is left, is she likely to suffer from malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals, and is this why her bowel movements are a clay colour? She is fit in herself, energetic and eating and drinking, pooping and urinating well.

Thank you
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
October 03, 2011 04:50AM
The removal of 40cm of intestine in a dog of this size may be a problem if it was removed from the ileum (the last part of the small intestine responsible for the absorption of food), but if removed from the jejunum (the middle part of the small intestine where very little absorption takes place) is probably not a problem. The clay coloured faeces do suggest that there may be malabsorption but it would depend on other factors such as the diet to say for sure. The usual give away is that the dog has trouble maintaining weight in the long term.
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
October 11, 2011 08:29AM
I have a Lander Blackmouth Kerr She is aprox 4yo she just wandered up to the house one day She has undergone surgery to rermove a large obstruction from her bowel and part of the bowel was removed as well she was doing ok fro about a month and now has started to loose weight I have put her and a hi fat and protien diet and she seems to have days where she is up active and fine but then she well stop eating and drinking for a day at wich time I give her liquids and protien vie a baby dropper (?) she hase loose stool VERY lose stool and has to go out often but for the most part is Drinking and eating fine she lost alot of weitght B4 and after the surgery to the toon of about 20 lbs she only weight 48 and now looks like a skeleton I am at a loos as to what else can be done she is alert most days and on the down days she is still alert just lathargic I love my little one any advice as to a diraction would be greatly appreciated
Thanks again
Mark,Michael,Duke,Rufus,Osirus And Ivory
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
October 16, 2011 08:12AM
The explanation here is that it is likely that a large portion of the ileum (the last part of the small bowel that absorbs the food) was removed at surgery. We call this short bowel syndrome and unfortunately can be a bit of a nightmare. You should feed a fat and fibre restricted diet which is easily assimilated - Hill's z/d may be appropriate. Injections of vitamin B12 will be needed at regular intervals indefinitely and a supplement of water soluble vitamins may be needed. Antibiotics are often needed for prolonged periods, eg Tylosin, oxytetracycline or metronidazole. Cholestyramine may be needed to reduce the effects of bile salts on the colon. If this fails to help then anti-secretory drugs such as loperamide or diphenoxylate will probably be needed to stop the diarrhoea. The results may be poor.
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
October 29, 2011 12:26AM
My question relates to non-surgical means for removal of blockages. My 1 year old English Bulldog has a hole in her heart which we are currently managing with medication. She recently started vomiting her food (not a symptom of the heart defect worsening or the meds) so I withheld food and water for a day (Wednesday) under the recommendations of my vet. Thursday I gave her maybe an 1/8 cup of water which she held down for about 30 minutes then regurgitated. I had not witnessed her eating anything she shouldn't prior to the first episode so I called the vet (who was at that point in time out of town until Monday) and he called me in a course of Metronidizole to cover any infection and Cerenia to help her keep the meds down. Thursday night she was able to eat 1/8 cup of her regular puppy food and take her meds and keep them down but this morning and tonight (Friday) she has vomited brown liquid four times. She is now uninterested in dog food, but did take her pills with yogurt and ate a few bites of regular chicken. These have both stayed down even with the liquid vomiting. So now, I'm curious. How is she able to hold down food but not liquid? Also, if she does have some sort of bowel obstruction are there any non-surgical remedies? Due to the hole in her heart, neither her primary care nor her cardiac vet want any type of surgery (at one point I was going to have her spayed) so any surgery to remove a blockage (if there is one) is not possible. She is a little more subdued than normal,but still walks around and greets me happily in the morning. Any ideas?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
October 31, 2011 10:15AM
As to removing blockages without surgery the answer is that if the object is solid then it needs surgery. Sometimes we treat constipation by giving liquid paraffin to soften the stool so it can be passed but this is not likely to work with a foreign body. The brown liquid being vomited is partly digested food so it is not really the case that solids stay down and liquids do not, it just appears that way. As far as causes go further investigations eg xrays would need to be done to look for an obstruction, but it would be wise to check kidney function as kidney disease can cause vomiting and the cardiac meds are likely to affect kidney function so this needs to be excluded. I hope this is of some help.
Jennifer H
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
December 01, 2011 09:43PM
My 10 year-old pit/lab mix had bowel obstruction surgery on Sunday. He has been home for two days. The first night we had an explosive diarrhea situation, but his vet thinks that was a result of too high of a dose of the laxative he is on, the dose is now half of what it was. However, now that his bowel movements are pretty solid I have noticed him starting to eat his feces. I can't get him away from it fast enough, he wolfs it down. This is not a behavior he has exhibited before. He is on mainly soft prescription canned food with some prescription dry food too. He is still taking pain medication and antibiotics. Is the eating of his feces something I should be concerned about or does it mean something about his diet or absorption of nutrients?
Re: canine bowel obstruction surgery
December 06, 2011 09:11AM
The eating of faeces we call 'coprophagia', or dirt from outside we call 'pica'. Although sometimes coprophagia is just a disgusting habit some dogs tend towards both coprophagia and pica are suggestive of poor absorption of nutrients in the gut. If the last part of the small intestine, the ileum, has been shortened during the surgery then this is probably the cause, although this often results in diarrhoea. If not it may be associated with the use of the laxative causing rapid transit of food through the gut (I am not sure why your dog was given a laxative - it is a rather odd thing to do). If the gut has been shortened then the diet may need to be supplemented to compensate and drugs to stop diarrhoea may be needed.

Your Email:


This is a moderated forum. Your message will remain hidden until it has been approved by a moderator or administrator

All material on this website © Copyright VetClick (UK) Ltd 2000 - 2020 All rights reserved