Earlier this year, you may have read about our experience with Mort’s perforated bowel and peritonitis. This scary ordeal involved emergency surgery and weeks of recovery.

I also wrote a guest post on Dawg Business, which has a bit more detail about the experience and the aftermath. If you want to understand the warning signs of an obstruction, and how life threatening one can be, I encourage you to read these posts. If you feed your dog raw bones, I encourage you even more strongly to read these posts!

For the Caring for Critters round robin, I would like to share the story about what we need to think about living with a dog who had this surgery.

Caring for Critters Blog Hop

Please note: I am not a veterinarian, and blogs from any source are never an alternative to in-person evaluation and care of a professional. Please let this serve as information to be aware of prior to an emergency, but never as an alternative to contacting your vet in the event of one. If you are dealing with a suspected obstruction or perforated bowel, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

What happened to Mort

Mort had a run in with a raw bone, one that was part of his daily breakfast. It was a large bone designed to clean teeth, and not be consumed, provided by a reputable local raw food provider who sources from organic and local free range sources for over 20 years. So it wasn’t a matter of the bone or source, it’s most likely a case of bad luck… an “edge case”, if you will.

A piece of the bone digested into an unlucky shape – it sort of have a bit of a “hook” aspect to it, and I imagine this is what caught on his bowel, and caused the bone to poke through it. This lead to peritonitis, and emergency surgery for Mort. He had about six inches of his bowel removed, and was stitched up and in ICU for a couple days.

Bone fragment that was removed from our dog.

The fragment was pretty small, but had sharp edges.

He’s a quick guy to recover, and was disappointed to be confined to a crate for a couple weeks to prevent jumping, but sailed through recovery with flying colors.

Mort survived and seems fine: why is it still a concern?

Dogs with bowel resections have a very high chance of returning with another obstruction. This is because the scar tissue in their bowels makes them prone to having things get stuck in the future. This means that we need to be very careful with Mort, and be very aware of all the signs of an obstruction, like the ones described in my earlier post.

What about food and treats, do you still feed raw?

We do not feed any raw bones anymore, to either of our dogs, because of the bad luck we experienced with Mort. No matter what we feed, it could happen again. So I simply do not want the anxiety or stress in my life, or to take a chance – however remote – with the dogs that it could happen again. Not to mention, Mort needs things that are easy to digest and don’t have a chance of getting stuck in his scar tissue.

So our dogs continue to get raw grind, but they don’t get recreational, daily, or “non consumable” bones (definitely not the last one, like knuckle or femur bones, as that is what caused our problem!)

For treats, I don’t feed Mort anything that’s large in nature that he may bite off a large chunk or might be digested as a large piece. So no bully sticks or other chew-style treats. Small treats are fine, or somewhat crumbly ones (like Honest Kitchen Wishes). I’m not sure about fish skin treats, I need to research more about how they are digested. As for quality, we always stick to USA sourced and made and usually limited or single ingredient only.

What about dental care

Because the dogs are no longer getting raw bones, which are amazing at cleaning teeth, they will have their teeth brushed. I’m slowly starting this regimin with Mort, but Tig is getting bully sticks for now (which are very good at cleaning teeth, hers are still pearly white).

When we’re out and about: being careful with inedible items

I am hyper aware (well, paranoid) when we’re out that Mort doesn’t get into anything he shouldn’t. He loves sticks and picking up interesting items in his mouth. They are all play things to him, potentially. So he is getting better and better at being asked to drop it and leave it alone (his emergency leave it is fantastic, but this is a bit different – I want to leave emergencies for bigger emergencies like potentially tainted meat or similar as opposed to fun sticks).

We, as we have always been, are very conscious about putting toys away unless they are completely chew proof. Perhaps a bit more vigilant now, but I’ve always been very careful as you can’t mess around or take chances with that. Scar tissue or not, it’s dangerous.

And when dealing with an emergency? Use your tone and emotions to convey it. Most dogs react quickly, or react long enough to get the object away. Another tip is to use any kind of “sit” or “down” or “wait” – whatever your dog knows the best. This will distract them, and often they will drop the item they have in their mouth long enough to take it away.

Mort has since been at the vets twice because of scares, as he had some similar signs of stomach pain. So it’s not something to take lightly!

Healing options

Luckily Mort is a young and otherwise healthy dog. This gives him a great chance at the body addressing and healing the scar tissue on its own – or so I hope. We’re also trying some of the SomaPet sample that we were provided earlier, which “patented amino acid stack” that is made specifically for pets who are over three yrs old. It “helps slow, stop and even reverse the signs of aging”. I’m not sure if it will help a dog with a bowel resection, but it certainly can’t hurt. (Note: This is not a sponsored post, but I was provided that sample for an earlier sponsored post).

About the round robin

For more posts in the round robin, go to the Community Page at Heart like a Dog for all of the descriptions and links.

Who is next?

For the next article in this Round Robin, head over to read Dawn’s post at American Dog Blog!

And as mentioned at the beginning: I am not a veterinarian, and blogs from any source are never an alternative to in-person evaluation and care of a professional. Please let this serve as information to be aware of prior to an emergency, but never as an alternative to contacting your vet in the event of one. If you are dealing with a suspected obstruction or perforated bowel, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

About Author

Jen deHaan is graphic designer, small business owner, and dog person living in Bay Area, California. Jen enjoys learning about dog training and behavior, and has taken several courses and seminars since 2010. She also contributes articles to leading websites, such as Victoria Stilwell's Positively . It all started with a great dog called Mikey (aka "dude"), loved and lost but remembered forever. Jen also runs a freelance business focusing on graphic, web, and UI design at FoundPixel, and a small business creating hand crafted dog products at Stylish Canine.

  • Jodi

    Thank you so much for sharing this important topic in the Round Robin!! I’m so glad that you were so observant of Mort and could get him quickly to the vet. And I love that idea of the open vet. We do not have that around here and I know I would feel better if I could be with them through it all!

    We feed raw and my dogs get chicken necks for breakfast. Since Delilah is not that great of a ‘chew your food’ dog we cut the necks up into smaller pieces. I’m not sure now (after reading your initial post) if we are doing something good or bad. :-(

    She is a voracious chewer if it were to be a femur bone or something along those lines, but since she broke her tooth chewing on something, I’ve gotten rid of all those bones.

    Thanks again for sharing, I think so many folks just don’t know about the things that could wrong with their pets.

  • HuskyCrazed

    oh wow! That must have been so scary!!!!!

    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  • Lindsay Stordahl

    I’ve been thinking of removing all raw bones from Ace’s diet after reading about your post from Mort, back when the incident first happened. I have only given Ace raw turkey and chicken bones, which as you know are usually not an issue for dogs. Still, I’ve always been slightly worried. I’ve never given him recreational bones, though. I stick to Nylabones, bully sticks, etc.

    There is always more to think about and consider. I may switch to the strictly ground route as well, mostly so I don’t have to worry. I’m a worrier.

    I’m glad you shared your experience with others. I know lots of dog owners have been able to learn from your story, and most of all I’m so glad Mort is doing just fine now that he’s recovered. What a good boy!