Intestinal Blockage in Dogs: RIP Johny

Gastrointestinal obstructions are a common but potentially life-threatening problem in dogs.

Johny passed away yesterday. His mum wanted other pup parents to learn from their experience so you don’t go through what they went through.

Intestinal Blockage in Dogs: RIP Johny

Johny’s story

I was an avid chewer. 

His mum thought he was really good at spitting pieces out. But Johny died because he had pieces of discs and string from a rope chew toy stuck in his stomach. Toys that break apart, even if you think your dog wouldn’t swallow the pieces, always pose a risk.

First symptoms

Johny started being sick almost two weeks before he had surgery.

He was vomiting violently, but then he seemed to improve, although he was still spitting up frequently and not eating and drinking as he should.

Diagnosing Johny

One of Johny’s vets suspected a blockage. But nothing showed up on x-rays. 

Johny was still pooping and still alert. I became dehydrated a few times and was given fluids via IV and subcutaneously.

Another vet didn’t think it presented like a blockage at all and prescribed Pepcid AC. 

Johny finally saw a third vet. He worked closely with the first vet, who told Johny’s mum that 95-98% of cases of young dogs that have vomiting that doesn’t resolve within 24 hours is due to blockage. It doesn’t matter if the dog is pooping and has normal energy and are playing fetch or keeping some food and fluids down.

If a young dog is still vomiting after 24 hours, then a blockage is likely. 

Day 12

On day 12 after exhibiting symptoms, Johny received a barium x-ray series. The blockage showed clearly.

Day 13

On day 13, Johny had surgery.

Pieces of rope were caught in his intestine which worked hard to pull the blockage through, but the tangled mess of plastic and string wouldn’t leave the stomach, so the intestine overstretched and eventually perforated.

After surgery, Johny went to an overnight hospital.

Day 14

The following morning, he couldn’t keep his blood glucose levels up and went into cardiac arrest twice. The second time, he did not come back.

Maybe things wouldn’t have worked out differently if the blockage was diagnosed right away. 

Johny was stronger at the beginning and his intestine hadn’t been ruptured for long. Johny would have had a better chance if he had surgery sooner.

If your dog is vomiting for more than 24 hours, and there is no conclusive diagnosis, ask about a barium x-ray series to rule out the blockage.

Blockage can be a death sentence and the test is pretty straightforward. 

Related articles:
Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog: Vomiting

Further reading:
Intestinal Obstruction in Dogs

Categories: ConditionsDiarrheaObstructionsReal-life StoriesSymptomsVomiting

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Jana Rade

I am a graphic designer, dog health advocate, writer, and author. Jasmine, the Rottweiler of my life, was the largest female from her litter. We thought we were getting a healthy dog. Getting a puppy from a backyard breeder was our first mistake. Countless veterinary visits without a diagnosis or useful treatment later, I realized that I had to take Jasmine's health care in my own hands. I learned the hard way that merely seeing a vet is not always enough. There is more to finding a good vet than finding the closest clinic down the street. And, sadly, there is more to advocating for your dog's health than visiting a veterinarian. It should be enough, but it often is not. With Jasmine, it took five years to get a diagnosis. Unfortunately, other problems had snowballed for that in the meantime. Jasmine's health challenges became a crash course in understanding dog health issues and how to go about getting a proper diagnosis and treatment. I had to learn, and I had to learn fast. Helping others through my challenges and experience has become my mission and Jasmine's legacy. I now try to help people how to recognize and understand signs of illness in their dogs, how to work with their veterinarian, and when to seek a second opinion. My goal is to save others the steep curve of having to learn things the hard way as I did. That is the mission behind my blog and behind my writing. That is why I wrote Symptoms to Watch for in Your Dog, which has turned out being an award-winning guide to dog owners. What I'm trying to share encompasses 20 years of experience.

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