Stomach surgery in dogs

Updated November 21, 2016

Dog stomach surgery may be required for several reasons. Loss of appetite, vomiting, excessive drooling or abnormal bowel movements are all signs of serious problems and the only treatment might be stomach surgery. Your dog's survival may depend on him undergoing surgery. However, it's important to understand signs to observe and how to care for him after surgery.

Reasons for surgery

Surgery may be required to remove any foreign material other than food that your dog may have digested, such as plastic, string or clothing. This is referred to as a gastric foreign body. This results in an obstruction. Dog stomach surgery may also be required if your dog has a stomach blockage, also known as a gastric outflow obstruction. This occurs when the stomach can't empty the contents. Stomach surgery is done to correct the obstruction. Stomach tumours, also known as gastric tumours, are usually seen in older dogs who suffer from vomiting. Surgery is needed to remove the part of the stomach where the tumour lives. Bloat, also known as gastric dilatation volvulus, is one of the most serious conditions. It is usually seen in middle-aged and older dogs. According to the Dog Health Guide, "In bloat, the stomach fills with fluid and then rotates, pulling the spleen with it. The stomach can twist up to 360 degrees. The twisting prevents fluids from leaving your dog's body, not just stomach fluids, but the ability to vomit as well." If the stomach is twisted, surgery is needed to place all of his organs into a normal position.


Some pet owners fear the risk of anaesthesia during surgery, as the risks of general anaesthesia are usually greater than the surgery itself. Other disadvantages include pain and recovery time after surgery, a prolonged hospital stay and the risk of developing an infection from the stomach or intestinal incision.


On the day of surgery, a physical exam and any tests needed will be performed by the vet. Your dog will then be prepared for surgery. The dog is usually given a sedative, which helps to calm and relax him. He may then be given an intravenous anesthetic. This is followed by a gas anesthetic. During surgery, the dog will be hooked up to several monitors to ensure he is doing well. These monitors include a heart rate monitor, to count the number of heartbeats per minute, and an oximeter, which monitors the amount of oxygen in the blood.

Home care

After surgery, you will have to monitor your dog. It's important that your dog does not lick or chew at the sutures because this can cause infection. Generally, sutures are removed within seven to 10 days. An Elizabethan collar may be needed. The incision will need to be observed for swelling or discharge. It's also important that your dog is eating and not vomiting. His portions of food should be reduced and gradually increased. Yours dog's diet should be bland for two or three days and gradually returned to normal. It's important that he is kept inside, in a clean, quiet place.


After surgery, watch out for vomiting. Vet Surgery Central Inc. notes, "If your pet had surgery of the bowels or stomach, vomiting is always a concern, as it may indicate that infection of the abdominal cavity, called peritonitis, is present." Contact your vet immediately if this happens. Your dog may also show signs of pain after an abdominal surgery if he won't lie down on the incision or continually sits up even if he appears tired.

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