Intestinal & Gastric Surgeries

Intestinal and gastric surgeries for dogs and cats are required in cases when there is a partial or complete blockage of a pet’s digestive track.

At Sploot, our experienced veterinarians will ensure that your pet gets the best possible care. We use state-of-the-art technology to diagnose gastric conditions and have extensive experience in veterinary surgeries.

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Open 8am-8pm, 365 days a year... same day appointments and urgent drop-offs welcome!
Primary and urgent care, under one roof.
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Open 8am-8pm, 365 days a year... same day appointments and urgent drop-offs welcome!
Primary and urgent care, under one roof.
Easily book online or text us.
Modern, warm clinics with unlimited free treats.

Common Gastric Problems in Pets

In addition to other potential causes, blockages can be due to the following:

Bloat or GDV (Gastric Dilation & Volvulus)
Gastric dilation and volvulus (GDV), also known as bloat, is a medical condition and surgical emergency wherein the stomach becomes filled with air and twists. This condition is more common in dogs but rare cases of GDV in cats have also been reported. 

GDV is sudden, painful, life-threatening, and must be remedied quickly through GDV surgery — in order for the patient to survive..
GDVs can be prevented through a procedure called gastropexy. This is typically recommended for large, deep-chested breeds like Great Danes, Irish Setters, Standard Poodles, Doberman Pinschers, and other similar breeds.
Umbilical Hernia
Umbilical hernias in kittens and puppies typically result from the incomplete closure of the umbilical ring. Umbilical hernias can also develop later on in a dog's or cat’s life, typically due to being overweight.

When a dog or cat has an umbilical hernia, it can be seen as a bubble or lump at the center of their belly.
It is recommended to surgically close umbilical hernias because a portion of the intestines can get stuck in them, which will result in a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery.
Ingestion of Foreign Materials
Some ingested foreign materials do not pass through on their own. This results in partial or complete gastrointestinal blockages — as well as diminished blood circulation to the affected area. These cases are often remedied with surgery.
Learn more about Surgery for Foreign Materials Ingestion
Tumors, Masses, Pyloric Stenosis, & Other Conditions
Tumors or masses in the gastrointestinal tract are abnormal growths that can cause blockages.
Pyloric stenosis is another medical condition, involving the thickening of the  stomach’s outlet (i.e. the pylorus), that causes a block in the pet’s gastrointestinal tract.

In cases requiring specialists, our team can connect you with appropriate specialist surgery offices. For more questions, consult our Pet Parent Concierge Team via phone or text.

Signs of Gastrointestinal Problems

It can be challenging to figure out the exact problem that a pet is facing — but in the case of gastrointestinal problems, knowing WHEN to bring your pet to the vet goes a long way. Watch out for these signs that your pet needs an urgent veterinary appointment:

Dry heaving
Loss of appetite
Straining or unable to poop
Aggressive behavior when the abdomen is touched
Painful abdomen to the touch

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What to Expect: Intestinal & Gastric Surgeries

Before the Operation: Diagnosis & Pre-Operative Preparation

Your pet will undergo a pre-operative appointment which includes the following:
A full physical exam is done (including blood work) to ensure your pet is medically fit for surgery.
Imaging tests may be used to confirm and locate the obstruction.
Other lab tests may also be conducted to determine the safest steps forward.
The veterinarian will recommend next steps which could any of the following:
(a) Go through an exploratory laparotomy (a full surgical assessment of the organs in the abdomen) at Sploot if needed;
(b) Have the surgery (e.g. GDV surgery, umbilical hernia surgery)  done at Sploot;
(c) Be referred to a specialist surgeon.
For surgeries handled in house in Sploot’s veterinary surgical suites, you will go through the following additional steps with us:
The veterinarian will give instructions as to when to stop feeding your pet on the night before the operation. (Please note that water can be given at any time.)
The veterinarian will orient you about the procedure itself and discuss any post-operative care that your pet may need.

During the Operation

On the day of the surgery, you will drop off your pet at Sploot. Throughout the procedure, we will send you live updates in the form of texts, photos, and videos, so that you can keep track of how your furry friend is doing.

After the Operation

For intestinal and gastric surgeries, it may be necessary to transfer your pet to a 24-hour hospital for a few days to recover. The vets will monitor vitals and ensure there were no complications during surgery. This also allows your pet to rest and recover before going home.

Got Questions?
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Reach out to our Pet Parent Concierge Team with questions, whether it’s surgery, symptoms, scheduling, or something else!

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What are intestinal and gastric surgeries in dogs and cats?

Intestinal and gastric surgeries address certain issues in the intestines and stomachs of dogs and cats. These procedures address issues like tumors, obstructions, ulcers, foreign body ingestion, and gastrointestinal injuries.

What are some common reasons that require intestinal or gastric surgery in pets?

Some of the most common reasons why pets undergo intestinal and gastric surgeries include the following:

  • Tumors or masses;
  • Bloat or GDV (gastric dilation and volvulus);
  • Umbilical hernia;
  • Pyloric stenosis;
  • Ingestion of foreign materials; and
  • Gastrointestinal injuries.
How can I prevent gastrointestinal issues that may require intestinal or gastric surgery in my pet?

Some gastrointestinal issues in dogs and cats are preventable with the help of a healthy diet and lifestyle. In other cases, gastrointestinal issues are linked to a pet’s breed and genetics. For example, some breeds are more predisposed to GDV (gastric dilation and volvulus) than others.

By having regular pet wellness exams with our veterinarians, these predispositions can be brought to light sooner, and gastric or intestinal issues can be addressed promptly before they progress into more complex issues.  

How are intestinal and gastric problems in pets diagnosed?

Veterinarians can diagnose intestinal and gastric issues using a physical examination, laboratory tests, and/or imaging tests. For some cases, veterinarians may also recommend exploratory laparotomy, a type of surgery that helps veterinarians evaluate a more complex health issue.

If my pet will undergo exploratory laparotomy, does this mean another surgery is required to fix their health issue?

During your pet’s pre-operative consultation, the veterinarian will talk you through your pet’s next steps, including what to expect during the exploratory laparotomy (if your pet needs it).

Exploratory laparotomy serves the purpose of giving a full picture of a pet’s gastrointestinal issue. In some cases, after the problem has been identified and assessed, it can be fixed during the same session.

Can intestinal or gastric surgeries cure underlying gastrointestinal conditions?

This depends on what issue your pet is suffering from. In some cases, surgery can provide a cure for the condition or issue, while in others, surgery may alleviate symptoms or improve quality of life without entirely resolving the underlying condition.

As an example, gastric surgery for the removal of an ingested foreign body resolves the issue once the surgery is successful. In other cases, the gastric or intestinal issue may be resolved with a chance of recurrence (e.g. intestinal tumors.)

Are there nonsurgical alternatives for certain gastrointestinal conditions?

In some cases, nonsurgical alternatives may be available for a pet’s gastrointestinal issue. As an example, the removal of an ingested foreign body can be done with an endoscope if the foreign body is small enough and safe to extract in this manner. In other cases, such as the presence of obstructive tumors, pyloric stenosis, GDV, and the like, surgery is generally recommended.

Do gastrointestinal issues in dogs and cats require urgent care?

Some gastrointestinal issues are life-threatening and require urgent medical attention in and of themselves. For example, gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), which gives pets a bloated and twisted stomach, will cause pets to go into shock in just around two hours. This is why pet parents are advised to be aware of its distinct symptoms: enlarged abdomen (bloating), unsuccessful retching, and rapid breathing.

Other gastrointestinal issues may also require urgent veterinary care, due to their potential to become harmful. Ingesting sharp objects (e.g. a bone fragment) is one example because this can cause perforations in the dog or cat’s gastrointestinal tract. An umbilical hernia is another example; this shows up as an outie belly button. In some cases, intestinal tissue may get trapped in the pet’s umbilical hernia, causing the blood flow to be cut off and resulting in tissue death.

Because some urgent cases are harder to spot than others, pet parents are encouraged to reach out to our team when they observe anything strange concerning their pet’s health.

How long do gastric & intestinal surgical procedures take?

This depends on the procedure that your pet will undergo. For gastric and intestinal procedures, the operation can take 1 to 4 hours. In any case, you will get a live update of how the procedure is going.

What are the risks associated with intestinal and gastric surgeries?

As with any surgical procedure, there are certain risks involved when performing intestinal and gastric surgeries; these include anesthesia complications and post-surgery wound infections. Experienced veterinarians are able to minimize these risks and help pet parents prevent infections during post-surgery recovery.

Can intestinal or gastric surgeries be performed on older pets?

Yes, intestinal or gastric surgeries can be performed on older pets. To perform these procedures as safely as possible, our veterinarians will consider your pet’s overall health and individual needs.

Does my pet need a pre-surgical consultation?

Yes. A pre-op appointment is crucial to ensure a successful and safe gastrointestinal surgery.

How long does it take for pets to recover from intestinal or gastric surgery?

Recovery time varies depending on the extent of the surgery, the pet’s overall health, and post-operative care. The time frame for recovery from intestinal or gastric surgery can take weeks or a few months.

How can I support my pet during their recovery from intestinal or gastric surgery?

After your pet’s surgery, our veterinarians will give thorough instructions on post-operative care, encompassing instructions on medication, diet, and proper wound care.

In addition, it is generally recommended that pets be allowed to rest in a calm environment, given proper hydration, and not bathed or allowed to come in contact with puddles or mud while their sutures heal.

Last but not least, pet parents are advised to monitor how their pet is healing. Should any concerning complications or symptoms arise post-surgery, our team is here to help; contact us immediately.

Will my pet need a special diet after intestinal or gastric surgery?

In most cases, veterinarians will recommend a special diet after a pet goes through intestinal or gastric surgery. These dietary recommendations can be either short-term (i.e. only during the course of the pet’s healing) — or long-term (i.e. ongoing - as a preventive measure for chronic or potentially recurring conditions.)

Can pets eat normally after intestinal or gastric surgery?

Unless otherwise recommended, dogs and cats can gradually go back to their usual diet right after the recovery stage following their intestinal or gastric surgery. Our veterinarians instruct pet parents if and when the transition back to a normal diet can be done.

How much does my pet’s surgery cost?

The cost of a pet’s surgery depends on the extent of the procedure. Here at Sploot, we offer transparent pricing from the get-go. Reach out to our team today to learn more!

Does Sploot Veterinary Care accept pet insurance?

If your pet’s insurance includes intestinal and gastric surgeries, you may be able to file a claim and get reimbursement from your insurance provider.

It's important to note that different pet insurance plans will offer different scopes of coverage. For clarifications regarding your pet’s insurance, please contact your provider.  

When can I schedule my pet for surgical consultation at  Sploot Vets?

If you suspect that your pet has a serious gastric or intestinal problem, we recommend reaching out as soon as possible. We accept same-day appointments and walk-ins in all of our clinics.

What payment options are available in Sploot Vets?

For the safety of our clients and our clinics, we accept only cashless payments. Clients have the convenience of paying with any major credit or debit card, as well as CareCredit and ScratchPay.

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