How Do I Know if My Dog Swallowed Something: Bowel Obstruction Symptoms

HealthHow Do I Know if My Dog Swallowed Something: Bowel Obstruction Symptoms

As much as we love our dogs, it’s fair to say that every now then, they can get themselves into hot water. If you have a chewer on your hands, it’s common to walk in on them chowing down on your favorite shirt or tearing apart your socks. While most of the time, this leads to some guilty eyes and a scolding, there is a risk of a far more severe consequence. That consequence is Dog Bowel Obstruction.
What is it?

Say your dog eats a sock out of the hamper. Once swallowed, the sock could cause a complete or partial blockage of the intestines. This blockage can lead to a decrease in blood flow to the bowels. Without the blood flow, the bowels will begin to deteriorate, causing toxic contents to be absorbed. If your dog eats something that you feel could cause dog bowel obstruction, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Something as small as a button or chewed up sticks could ultimately lead to death. As scary as this is, being knowledgeable and prepared for the situation will help you in recognizing if your pup is in danger. First, we need to know what causes dog bowel obstruction.

What Causes Dog Bowel Obstruction

Dogs tend to be curious. When they encounter new and unusual things, it is common for them to give it a sniff followed by scooping it up in their mouths. While this is normal, it is also the leading cause of dog bowel obstruction.

Things like tennis balls, string, chewed up pieces of toys, coins, bones, or sticks can all be harmful to your dog. Laundry is another big one and is probably one of the most common. If your dog enjoys picking up larger sticks, pieces could break off and get stuck in their throats or stomachs. Anything they can pick up and swallow should be monitored with caution.

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Along with eating large objects, intestinal parasites or other medical conditions can cause dog bowel obstruction. Intestinal parasites can be picked up from ingesting dirty water, contaminated food, garbage, or from the fecal matter of other dogs with the parasites.

Dog Bowel Obstruction Symptoms

I know what you are thinking…”What do I do?” Keep my dog wrapped in bubble wrap, depriving him of all chew toys and fun? The answer is no. Most of the causes are what makes your dog happy. Dogs find great pleasure in gnawing on a bone or destroying your wardrobe. But you should know the symptoms in case the worst case scenario occurs.

If your dog ingests a foreign object, it could take 10-24 hours for it to move through its digestive system. If it makes its way to the stomach, it could linger there for much longer. If the object is sharp, it could cause punctures or tears making things even worse.

If you notice that your dog is either constipated or having a prolonged case of diarrhea, this could mean that he/she is dealing with bowel obstruction issues. Loss of appetite, severe discomfort, vomiting, or refusing to be picked up are some other red flags that your dog is having issues. If you suspect your dog may have swallowed something, keep an eye on the belly. If you notice some unusual bloating, it may be time to call the vet.

If your dog is pawing at the mouth and gagging, these are signs that something may be caught in their throat.

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So, your dog ate something crazy, and you noticed some signs of bowel obstruction. What do you do?

Treating Dog Bowel Obstruction

Once you notice that your dog is dealing with bowel obstruction, it is extremely important that you take action as quickly as possible. The first step should be to contact your veterinarian.

Once at the veterinarian’s office, an endoscopy will most likely be performed. This involves going down your dog’s throat with a tiny camera to get a good glimpse at what could be causing the blockage. If it isn’t too bad, the vet will be able to retrieve the object during the endoscopy.

If that doesn’t work, your doctor will most likely hook your dog up to some fluids. The fluids are to assist with hydrating your dog. This hydration can help with passing the foreign object naturally. If neither of these methods works, then your dog is off to surgery.

First, x-rays will be taken to locate the exact location of the blockage. After that, your dog will be put under with some anesthesia. Once your dog is safely snoozing, the veterinarian will open up the abdomen and remove the object along with the blockage. This is the worst case scenario, but it isn’t uncommon for things to get this far.

Preventing Dog Bowel Obstruction

The best prevention for dog bowel obstruction starts in the early stages of your dog’s life. As a puppy, it is crucial to train your dog not to eat laundry and other random objects off the floor. Discouraging this type of behavior at an early age can help with the prevention throughout your dog’s entire life.

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Another good method is to dog-proof your house. Keep your clothes in dressers, closets, and laundry bins only. Keep everything off the floor as much as possible. Try not to leave anything laying around for your dog to inevitably gobble up. Don’t buy toys that have small, hanging pieces that can be easily swallowed. If you give your dog bones, try and get rid of them once they start getting too small.

While dog bowel obstruction can be scary, arming yourself with the facts is the best first step you can take in your defense. Knowing how to properly prevent it, along with having the knowledge to identify and take action if it occurs, is essential for all dog owners. After all, it could be a matter of life or death. Be sure to keep a watchful eye and be on the alert!

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Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins
Bryan Harkins is an avid dog lover and the proud owner of, a website dedicated to all things canine. With years of experience working with dogs, Bryan is passionate about providing valuable information, tips, and resources to help pet owners provide the best possible care for their furry companions.

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