What is a gastrointestinal obstruction?
This refers to the complete or partial obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract, at any point between the oesophagus to the large bowel. They are commonly seen within the small intestine, as this is the narrowest area of the gastrointestinal tract. They generally occur when a dog of any age. ingests a foreign object, though it can be a sign of cancer in older dogs. It is most commonly seen in dogs aged between one to three years old.
It is actually incredibly simple to prove that there is an obstruction, as it will often show up on an x-ray – especially when it is a bone, rock or metallic object. Other items, such as seeds, rubber or pieces of toys are more difficult to see on a plain x-ray. In these cases, we use a contrast such as barium to help prove that there is an obstruction.
Surgery is generally the only way to remove an obstruction. It normally involves making an incision into the stomach or small intestines, before removing the foreign object and closing the surgery site. If the obstruction has been present for some time, severe bowel trauma or bowel death may have occurred. In these instances, we remove a section of the bowel and re-join the healthy areas. A slightly longer stay in hospital will also be required.
At Brisbane Pet Surgery, these procedures will usually cost between $1,000 - $2,000, depending on the complexity of the surgery and the length of the stay. If treated at a referral centre, owners would face a bill of $8,000-$10,000 or more – many hospitals charge $1,000-$2,000 per day just for hospitalisation alone!
Recovery and aftercare
Your pet is usually able to return home one to three days following the surgery. They will be started on a liquid diet for 24 hours, before adding carbohydrates such as pasta or spaghetti the following day. Over the next two days, you can slowly start to include amounts of the normal diet. We also recommend removing any high-risk toys from their environment.