Intussusception in Dogs

Overview of Canine Intussusception

An intussusception is the telescoping of one part of the intestinal tract into an adjoining segment of intestinal tract. It commonly involves the small intestines in dogs and cats. Intussusception can cause narrowing or obstruction of the lumen (inside diameter) of the intestines, resulting in an acute emergency. Intussusception can also cause waxing and waning signs if the intussusception is periodically relieved by the affected segment of intestine moving back and forth from a telescoped position into a normal position.

Intussusceptions are seen in both dogs and cats. All breeds can be affected, although the incidence is greater in German shepherd dogs. Although intussusceptions can be seen in all ages of animals, it is most common in young dogs. Intussusceptions secondary to tumors are more common in older pets.

Causes of Intussusception in Dogs

What to Watch For

Clinical signs and disease progression vary markedly depending on the location and degree of blockage associated with the intussusception. Some signs may include:

Diagnosis of Intussusception in Dogs

The clinical signs associated with intussusception can be vague and nonspecific, so several tests are often necessary to confirm the diagnosis. Such tests include:

Treatment of Dogs with Intussusception in Dogs

Patients with an intussusception require hospitalization and aggressive treatment, as clinical deterioration may be rapid and can be fatal. Most of these cases are surgical emergencies.

Aggressive intravenous fluid and electrolyte therapy is also extremely important. Antibiotics are usually prescribed, and your veterinarian may also recommend a specific post-operative diet.

Home Care for Dogs with Intussusception

The prognosis for patients with an intussusception is variable, depending on the severity and degree of the intussusception and the associated clinical signs. Most cases of intussusception cannot be prevented.

Administer all medication and recommended diets as directed by your veterinarian. If your pet has a recurrence of signs, which is most likely within the first week of surgery, contact your veterinarian at once.

Information In-depth on Intussusception in Dogs

An intussusception is a telescoping of one part of the intestinal tract into an adjoining segment of intestinal tract. Intussusceptions can occur anywhere throughout the gastrointestinal tract but are most common in the small intestines. Partial or intermittent intussusceptions are often associated with chronic, or waxing and waning signs. A complete intussusception with a total blockage of the intestine may cause acute onset of severe clinical signs, with even shock and death. In general, when the blockage is high in the gastrointestinal tract, the signs are more severe and life threatening.

Many problems can cause intussusceptions, and many other diseases/disorders have the same symptoms. These include:

Diagnosis In-Depth of Intussusception in Dogs

Certain diagnostic tests are performed to diagnose an intussusception and to exclude other disease processes that may cause similar symptoms. Obtaining a complete description of clinical signs and a thorough physical examination are an important part of obtaining a diagnosis. In addition, the following tests may be recommended to confirm the diagnosis:

Your veterinarian may recommend additional tests to exclude or diagnose concurrent conditions. These tests are not necessary in every case, although they may be of benefit in certain individuals, and are selected on a case-by-case basis. These include:

Treatment In-Depth of Dogs with Intussusception

Patients with life-threatening clinical signs are hospitalized and treated aggressively. Clinical deterioration is often rapid and can be fatal. Successful treatment depends on medical stabilization of the patient with correction of fluid, electrolyte, and acid-base abnormalities. Once the animal is stabilized surgical correction is instituted as soon as possible. It is important to address each patient individually, as different underlying processes may warrant different recommendations regarding therapy and prognosis. Therapies that may be administered include the following:

Follow-up Care for Dogs with Intussusception

Optimal treatment for your pet requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your pet does not rapidly improve.