Symptoms of Intestinal Blockage in Dogs

Photo credit: Bigstockphoto
Photo credit: Bigstockphoto

Dogs are naturally curious and playful and sometimes, this curiosity and playfulness gets them into trouble. Most of the times the trouble they are in are not always life-threatening but there are also times when their curiosity can get the best of them. In some cases, intestinal blocking results in this situation and if you are suspecting that your dog suffers from intestinal blockage then you need to know what symptoms to watch out for in case this happens.

What is intestinal blockage?

It is defined as a partial or complete blockage of food from the stomach into and through the intestines. This is a common obstruction in dogs which generally puts them at risk. Younger dogs are also susceptible and if not treated immediately, intestinal blocking can be fatal.


There are many causes that could lead to intestinal blocking in the stomach and small intestines. This could be caused by foreign bodies that your dog may have ingested. It could also be due to tumor, inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, or a condition known as pyloric stenosis. A blockage in the small intestines may be due to hernias, intussusception or a condition when the small intestines slides into the next, a mesenteric torsion or the twisting of intestines, tumors and the likes. Parasites in the intestines may also cause gastrointestinal obstruction. Some types of parasites may grow into balls and even consume the space in the stomach and intestines. So if this happens, better watch out for the signs and symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms of Intestinal Blockage

The signs and symptoms of this condition may vary according to the location where the obstruction is. However the most common signs and symptoms include loss of appetite, vomiting, difficulty in removing bowel, abdominal pain and weakness.

If the blockage is in the esophagus, your dog is most likely to swallow a lot, regurgitate after eating, licking their lips and may appear dehydrated. If it is in the stomach, the most affected area is the pylorus. This may cause the food to travel slower through the intestinal tract. When this happens, your dog may suffer from episodes of vomiting after a few hours of eating.

In case the small intestines are affected, the most common symptoms would be vomiting, abdominal pain, a distended abdomen, shock, fever and even death if not treated immediately.

Once these signs and symptoms appear, make sure to take your dog to the vet immediately. Proper diagnosis can help identify what is blocking the intestines and surgery may be required depending on how severe the condition is.

 Be aware of what your dog is chewing

To avoid this situation it is important that you know what your dog is eating or where they have been. The most common causes of intestinal blockage are foreign objects like marbles, golf balls, bones, plastics and the likes. So it is important that you keep these away from their reach and make sure that you provide them with something to chew on that isn’t going to cause them their lives.

If you love your dog then it is your responsibility as the owner to look out for them. They are only given a few years to live so make sure that they stay as healthy and happy as they can be. After all, they are family.


*Note: If the blockage is further down the road, towards the end of the small intestine, diarrhea is more common, however, vomiting may occur 7-8 hours later post eating.

*Note some symptoms of blockages may not occur immediately because they are just blocking partially initially. For instance, a dog once presented to our office 6 days after swallowing part of a stuffed animal. What happened is that foreign item was bobbing around dog’s the stomach for a few days before moving into the narrow small intestines and creating problems.