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Pet Doc
Pet Doc, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  Veterinarian
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We live in an area at least six hours drive from a vet. We

Customer Question

We live in an area at least six hours drive from a vet. We suspect our large dog has a bowel obstruction. He is holding down fluids but has not eaten solid food and has not been himself for a week. He is very weak but has been drinking water and peeing on his own. We have also been giving him Pedialyte. Today we gave him some Ensure and shortly after that he passed a slight amount of runny stool. Until today he had not passed any stool. Any advice would be appreciated.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
Hi there,

Thanks for your question regarding your 3 year old boy Hank who may potentially have a gastrointestinal foreign body obstruction. It definitely sounds like he is very unwell currently and the fact he can't keep any solids down is definitely a worry. If he is able to keep some water down and has passed a small stool today, if he does have a GI obstruction, it is more likely to be a partial obstruction, rather than a complete one. There are other potential causes for his symptoms that we have to consider as well including everything from an infectious gastroenteritis (typically you would be seeing diarrhea rather than no stool) to gastrointestinal worms or pancreatitis.

If this is indeed a foreign body obstruction, then if left for too much longer, the bowel where the foreign body is stuck could potentially die away and cause a completely bowel perforation. This isn't all too uncommon in cases like this that are left for over a week and it is a real possibility in Hank's case if he does indeed have an obstruction. These cases are always best dealt with asap for this reason. If the bowel perforates, this causes peritonitis (infection in the abdominal cavity) which in turn quickly leads to bacteria in the blood which would make Hank extremely unwell.

For tonight, continue to keep his fluids up as you have been. Pedialyte is great in that you will be better rehydrating him and supplying him with some electrolytes. Ensure is even better as he will be getting some protein and fat which will be much needed by now.

Ultimately, given it has been a week now, you really really need to get him seen by a Vet tomorrow. I know 6 hours is an awfully long drive away, but given it has already been a week, it really is important that your Vet can see him asap, carry out a full physical exam as well as take an xray and/or ultrasound to rule out a foreign body obstruction. If an obstruction is confirmed, then it is likely Hank will need a full exploratory operation to assess the bowel, remove any dead or dying bowel and of course remove the obstruction.

Other than continuing with some ensure and encouraging his water intake, there isn't anything else you can do from home. Definitely don't give any human pain relief as this is generally toxic to dogs and in particular can cause GI ulceration which is definitely not what Hank needs right now.

Best of luck with your boy and please do make that trip to the Vet tomorrow. As it is such a long drive - be sure to take someone with you who can sit with Hank and make sure you have the air con on in the car, as well as plenty of water for him. Let me know how you get on if you get a chance.

Kind Regards,

Dr Edwards
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your prompt reply. This dog was recently given to us by friends moving overseas. Prior to two weeks ago he had not been seen by a vet in his entire life. (He was a farm puppy and then grew up on a mountainside acreage.) A vet comes to our area every six weeks and when he was seen two weeks ago he was givena clean bill of health aside from being diagnosed (and treated) for tapeworm. We were supposed to be giving him a heartworm treatment next week at home and then follow up with the vet in August for a second tapeworm treatment. Could the tapeworm be part of this problem? Also, when we have moved him he has not shown any discomfort or flinched in pain or yelped or anything. Is that strange?
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
Hi again Jennifer,

If he was given a tapeworm tablet, then no - this is unlikely to be due to anything related to tapeworm. As for the lack of a pain response, it could just be that he is a stoic boy - of it could be that this is a partial obstruction that isn't causing him any pain, but it blocking any ingesta getting past it!

I do think a foreign body is much more likely if he has recently been given a clean bill of health - especially if he hasn't really passed any stool in the last week or so.

It must be a pain being so far away from the Vet - but these symptoms definitely warrant theXXXXX

Kind Regards

Dr E
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX We will let you know how things go. Are we able to contact you after we give you your positive rating?
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
Yes of course, not a problem. Just reply to this post at any stage in the future.

Kind Regards XXXXX XXXXX of luck,

Dr E
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
One more question...if he happens to pass the obstruction on his own in the night, would he still require the long road trip to the vet? I know it's hypothetical, and not very likely, but I like to cover all the bases just in case.
Also, do you think the vet would be operating right away or would they try to rehydrate him for a few days first? I have had many pets in my life, but none requiring surgery aside from spaying or neutering.
Thanks again!
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
It would be extremely unlikely for him to pass an obstruction - especially given it has been a week already. IF he did (hypothetically as you say), then it would depend on whether he started eating and defecating normally. If he was still unable to keep food down and/or was still weak and lethargic, then you would still need to get him seen.

Would they operate straight away? If he was dehydrated probably not. They would likely start him on an IV for 6 - 8 hours until he was better hydrated before they operate. Ultimately it would depend on what they found as well as his condition by the time he got to the clinic tomorrow.

I hope this helps Jennifer and best of luck,

Dr E
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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. We truly appreciate your time and advice.
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
No problem at all and best of luck with Hank.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hank has had what appears to be a seizure. It was observed by family helping me care for him (we have 5 young children at home so we've called in reinforcements). His head was moving uncontrollably for 5-10 minutes but his body stayed still. It has not affected his ability to keep another dose of Ensure down. Does this change your recommendations at all or change his prognosis recovery-wise?
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
Hi again Jennifer,

Thanks for the update - this sounds like an interesting episode. If this was a seizure, it would have been more likely that his whole body would have been shaking rather than just his head, but it is possible this was a petit mal seizure. This could be related to the issue causing these symptoms (perhaps this is a toxicity rather than a foreign body for example), however it is more likely to be due to insufficient nutrition in the last week as hasn't been able to keep any food down. It could also be as a result of a bad infection as well (hopefully his bowel is still ok).

The sooner you can get Hank seen the better. If this means leaving at 4am to get him to a Vet by 10am, then I think that would be a good idea if you are up to it.

Keep in touch,

Dr E
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks! I was wondering about it not affecting his body...
We aren't certain but think he may have ingested part of a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Ironically, we don't use them as something that works so well on tough jobs generally tends to be highly toxic. That being said, we recently moved and the woman we bought the house from did use them. She left a bunch of unopened packages of them in the house. They were immediately removed from child and pet height (way before we got the dog). Mid last week, a couple of days after he took ill, we found 1/3 of one beside his water dish. Hank likes to bury bones, etc. I honestly don't know if he found this while digging in the yard (the previous owner had dogs) or if is was around behind a shed, under shrubs, etc. It could be the initial cause of his discomfort, a secondary problem, or a red herring.
My parents are willing to drive Hank to the vet for us and we will get him down to the vet as soon as we can.
Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
Sorry Jennifer - I had to sneak out and I missed your message.

Yes interesting about the Mr clean magic eraser and as you say - it is very difficult to know whether he has touched this at all, let alone whether he has ingested it.

That's very nice of your parents to help out and I hope all goes well.

Keep in touch with his progress.

Kind Regards,

Dr E
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Hi Dr. Edwards,


 


I have sad news. Hank passed away last Wednesday morning en route to the vet. We really thought he was improving. :(


 


That morning before he left he had more watery diarrhea and was still drinking fine and holding down the Pedialyte and Ensure that were being given to him every two hours throughout the night, and he was still getting up and drinking water on his own. He had even begun drooling again.


My mom sat in the backseat with Hank while my dad drove so that she could monitor him and comfort him. He refused to drink at all while in the car and actually vomited once just as they were leaving town. He continued to drool as they drove and my mom said later that it had a greenish tinge to it (she was wiping his mouth for him). He had another large bout of diarrhea just before he died as well. My parents drove him back to us (they were about 2 hours down the road when he died) and kept him wrapped in a tarp packed with ice until we were ready to bring the kids over to see Hank and to take him and bury him on our little acreage. However, when my mom checked on about 4-5 hours after they had wrapped him up and packed around him with ice, there was a pool of very fresh looking blood that had come out of his mouth. She thought that was very odd after so much time had already passed. Are you able to shed any light on that? Do you have a sense of what caused his death? We are all missing Hank very much and hoped so much that we could have saved him.


 


Thanks,


Jen

Expert:  Pet Doc replied 1 year ago.
Hi again Jen,

I am sorry to hear about Hank passing away on Wednesday. As you least you were doing your best for him and your parents can be happy knowing they were doing their best for him as well. It is very hard to say what caused Hank's death and only a full post mortem would have given you that information, however it is quite likely Hank could have had a complete GI obstruction, or possibly even a bad stomach ulcer. The blood coming from his mouth some time later could be due to decomposition of his stomach wall mixed with whatever was in his stomach - or this could have been from his lungs potentially as well. It is more likely this is a post mortem effect rather than anything else.

I know this will be a very difficult time for your entire family, but do try and take some peace from knowing that you were doing your best for your boy when he passed.

Thoughts,

Dr E

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