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Intestinal obstructions are common in dogs

Pete Wedderburn - Animal Doctor


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Corncobs are a common cause of intestinal obstruction in dogs

Corncobs are a common cause of intestinal obstruction in dogs

Corncobs are a common cause of intestinal obstruction in dogs

Vets are often faced with a problem that's rare in the world of human medicine: objects getting stuck in the digestive tract. I've seen three cases in the past few months, each presenting a different challenge.

Dogs are the main culprits: cats are far more fastidious eaters, cautious about what they chew and swallow. Dogs just grab and gulp, leading to all sorts of complications.

The main problem, of course, is that dogs don't understand that there are some objects that just should not be swallowed. They get carried away in the moment, enjoying chewing something, and almost without realising it, they swallow the object. The back of the mouth and oesophagus are relatively capacious and able to stretch, so even large objects can be swallowed, making their way down into the stomach. However the digestive tract gets narrower after that: the exit from the stomach is difficult for any solid object much larger than 2 - 3cm to get through, and the small intestines are even narrower.