Signs & Symptoms of Intestinal Blockage in a Dog

Toys are entertaining, but a broken toy creates an obstruction risk.
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Curious canines like to sniff, chew and eat their way through new experiences and surroundings. Unfortunately, this means your pooch may eat things not intended for consumption. Your pooch can unwittingly or even purposely gobble up things like broken toys, coins, string, metal, plastic, bones and even rocks, and they journey into your dog’s stomach and intestinal system. While some small objects may pass through without incident, some can cause intestinal blockages. A blockage requires immediate veterinarian attention.


Vomiting is one of the main symptoms of intestinal blockage, though the frequency, type of vomiting and consistency of the vomit vary based on the location of the blockage. Partial blockages cause intermittent vomiting that can include pieces of food. If a blockage is complete, and near the opening between the stomach and the small intestine, vomiting will be constant. If a complete blockage occurs farther down in the lower intestines, the vomit may be brown and smell like feces.

Bowel Issues

Typically, healthy dogs have daily bowel movements. If you notice your dog is not passing regular bowel movements, an intestinal blockage may be to blame. A complete blockage prevents any stool from passing. With a partial blockage, small amounts of stool can pass, but you may notice your dog straining when he tries to go. If the obstruction is jagged, internal tearing is possible. Signs of blood or mucus may be evident in stool.

Anorexia and Dehydration

With an intestinal blockage, your dog will feel sick. You may notice him pawing his stomach or whining. Because he is unable to keep food down or able to eliminate waste, his eating will decline. If the obstruction is before the intestine, he may not be able to keep anything down, including water. This quickly leads to dehydration.

Treatment and Prevention

In most cases of intestinal blockage, surgery to remove the object is necessary. Additional treatment focuses on supportive care, such as intravenous fluids to prevent dehydration. When it comes to intestinal blockage, prevention is essential. If you have a curious puppy or older dog that seems to eat everything, limit the potential hazards in his environment. Keep garbage cans sealed or in an off-limits room so he is not tempted to dive in for a tasty snack. Monitor dog toys and discard any that are broken. Check your home and yard daily for possible hazards.