January 31, 2014
Fecal impaction in dogs

After the Christmas vacation, I had an alarming amount of cases with dogs being brought into the clinic unable to pass stool.

Each of these cases was as a result of eating bones. Yes, while we were enjoying our Christmas meals and parties, we were feeding the bones to our pooches, who I am sure, were quite happy for the dangerous treats.{{more}}

Not that the bones were swallowed whole or partially chewed, rather all of the cases I saw resulted from small splinters of bone mixed in the stool and these splinters were actually hooking into the inner lining of the rectum making it very painful to defecate and resulting in a subsequent back up of stool.

In one pitbull that I saw, the stool was backed up all the way to the small intestines. The animal could not keep down food, as there was nowhere for the food to pass as the gastrointestinal tract was effectively blocked . The animal was also very dehydrated and weak. At a first glance, one could have thought that the patient was suffering from some severe debilitating disease.

This particular patient had to be hospitalized, being kept initially on IV fluids, then followed by mainly liquid diets. The animal had to be anesthetized and the stool manually removed using enemas on numerous occasions. Talk about dirty jobs!!!

Fecal impaction, is usually quite easily recognized by attentive dog owners, who would notice the affected animal trying to pass stool but unable to do so. Sometimes this can be confused with an animal that is unable to urinate.

Fecal impaction in dogs can result in death if not treated in a timely fashion.

Quite a few of us dog owners are of the opinion that the only bones we should not give our dogs are the hard ones like turkey bones. In my experience, these bones result in a different form of intestinal blockage, by physically getting stuck in the stomach or intestines – generally caused by relatively large pieces of bones that were too hard to chew and swallowed by the dog. Sometimes there is perforation of the stomach or intestines by bones with sharp edges and this could lead to acute peritonitis and death. These are generally detected by X-rays and most times require surgery.

It is quite clear, that the relatively softer chicken bones, especially those of the legs and thighs , when chewed up, form splinters that give rise to fecal impaction.

Caution should therefore be taken when feeding bones to our dogs. Even though, I dare say that most dogs find bones to be irresistible.

If my dogs see me eating a bone, they virtually salivate, hoping that I will throw the remnants of it to them.

For further information, contact: Dr Collin Boyle Unique Animal Care Co.Ltd.
Tel: 456 4981