How Much Does Obstructed Bowel Surgery for a Dog Cost?


Written by:  Howmuchisit.org Staff
Last Updated:  August 7, 2018

Obstructed bowel surgery is performed when there is a blockage in the dog’s digestive tract.   An obstruction in the digestive tract is generally caused by the dog or puppy swallowing an item that is not meant to be digested such as a toy.  If left untreated, it can lead to dangerous circumstances and even death, and this is why it’s so important to contact a veterinarian immediately if you think your dog’s bowl is obstructed.

dog xray by liverpoolhls, on Flickr
dog xray” (CC BY 2.0) by liverpoolhls

How much does obstructed bowel surgery for a dog cost?

Since it is essential that a dog is taken into the vet’s office right away, this is going to be a procedure that will have to be done immediately.  The average cost for this surgery can cost anywhere from $900 to as much as $5,000, depending on how complicated the situation is.  For example, a smaller item lodged in the intestinal tract, such as a rawhide bone, may be easier to remove, compared to a few squeaker toys, sock or tennis ball. A physical exam, regardless of what’s found, can cost $50 to $110 for just the visit.

If you are fast enough, a vet may be able to induce vomiting.  If the dog is able to throw up the item before it enters the digestive tract, the fee can be considerably less – around the $150 to $500 mark.  If surgery is required, however, it could be in the low thousands.

According to the website MedHelp.org, a member had stated that they had brought in their 14-year-old pit bull, and the whole surgery was close to $5,000, but when the additional treatments were considered, the total was closer to $6,000.  The procedure took around an hour and they were able to pick up the dog within 24 hours.

Vetary.com notes the average cost of treatment can be anywhere from as little as $800 to more than $7,000.

Obstructed bowel surgery for a dog overview

Before surgery is performed, the vet will feel the abdomen to see if any foreign objects or pain is there.  If the vet suspects an object is in the stomach, then the vet will take an ultrasound and/or abdominal radiograph to confirm their findings.  He or she may also order a Barium series, which is able to show up white on the x-ray, indicating the obstruction and pinpoint the location.

If the dog does, indeed, have an obstruction, then the vet will offer a few treatment options.  If the dog recently swallowed the object, then the vet may be able to induce vomiting, forcing the dog to throw up the object.  Even if the dog were to throw up the object, the vet will still want to monitor the dog for the next 24 hours to make sure it’s able to eat and it has a normal bowel movement.

If the dog isn’t able to throw up the object, then an emergency surgery will be required since it can be life-threatening.  For objects that may pass through the system, a vet may use fluid therapy to speed up the progress, watching the object with radiographs as it moves through the system.  With larger objects, then a laparotomy will be required, a surgery that’s able to remove the object in the intestinal tract.  During this surgery, the dog will be placed under a general anesthesia and the stomach and/or small intestines will be opened up to remove the foreign object.  Once removed, the dog will be monitored for the next three to four days to watch the dog’s progress.

What are the extra costs?

Blood testing may be needed if the vet suspects an infection is present.  Common blood work can cost $50 to $100.

X-rays may be needed to better see the obstruction before surgery.  This will most likely be an extra cost, around $150

As noted above, an abdominal radiograph may be needed to watch the progress of the object as it works its way through the intestinal tract.  An abdominal radiograph can cost about $150 to $200.

An ultrasound, if necessary, can cost another $250 to $350.

A follow-up appointment will be necessary to ensure that the dog is recovering properly.  Dogs may need to stay in the hospital for up to five days after the surgery, leading to additional overnight fees.

Medication, before and after the procedure, can cost $10 to $30 for antibiotics.

Emergency visits to the vet are going to cost more than a scheduled surgery.  Keep in mind that something as severe as a bowel obstruction may have to be taken care of as soon as possible.

Tips to know

Symptoms of intestinal obstruction in dogs will include vomiting, a loss of appetite, diarrhea, tarry stools, burping, lethargy, excessive drooling or refusing to lie down.

The minute you see your dog swallow something large or indigestible, it’s important to contact the vet immediately since they may be able to induce vomiting, saving you thousands of dollars.  Vets will recommend you do this, even if you don’t see any symptoms.

How can I save money?

Emergency clinics are going to be more than your personal clinic.  While you do not want to wait around to have this procedure done, check to see if you can get into your personal vet rather than the emergency vet to save at least 20 to 40%.


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