If your dog develops a gastrointestinal obstruction, ingested fluids and food, as well as bodily secretions, will accumulate. Many obstructions will simply pass without the assistance of a vet, but that doesn't mean that you should take chances and see if the condition resolves itself.
If you suspect that your dog has a gastrointestinal obstruction, here are four important reasons to take them to the vet as soon as possible.
1. Proper Nutrition Won't Be Taken
Firstly, the fact that your dog is suffering from a gastrointestinal obstruction will mean that it isn't able to take the full benefit from food that it consumes. Most ingested food will not be able to make it all the way through the digestive system, so your dog will slowly become weaker and less able to fight any secondary complications due to a lack of nutrition.
2. Blood Flow Will Be Reduced
Having a GI obstruction doesn't just present a barrier against the normal passing of food – it also puts immense pressure on certain key blood vessels. Without those blood vessels supplying oxygen and other nutrients to the highly sensitive tissue that makes up the gastrointestinal lining, that tissue will start to die off very swiftly. After it becomes necrotic (dead) tissue, it will be easier for tears and perforations to occur. These dead sections will certainly necessitate surgical intervention so they can be removed. The remaining healthy tissue will then need to be sewn back together.
3. You'll Risk Septic Peritonitis
When the supply of blood to the digestive tract is impaired and the healthy tissue begins to die and fall apart, your dog's troubles are really only just starting. Particles of food, gastrointestinal fluids, pancreatic acids, bacteria, and other substances that should be kept in the gastrointestinal tract will be able to spill out into the abdominal cavity. This can cause septic peritonitis, which essentially involves pathogenic microorganisms or toxins meeting the sensitive lining the abdomen. The condition is very hard to correct and can easily result in the death of the affected dog.
4. Surgery Is More Likely
Even if a gastrointestinal blockage doesn't get passed naturally, it doesn't mean that surgery necessarily needs to take place. There are non-invasive options that can be used to avoid surgery, which will save you some money and save your dog the ordeal of having to go under and then recover. However, it becomes more likely that your dog will need surgery the longer the condition is allowed to develop. This is partially because of the increased risk of necrotic stomach tissue or septic peritonitis, but surgery can also be more likely simply because the blockage is allowed to get larger.