Sand Impaction in Dogs
It doesn’t have to be summer for your dog to suffer from a sand impaction. That’s right, dogs do get sand impaction, but the reasons why might surprise you. I was stunned to learn about this condition when my friends dog was taken in for frequent vomiting. They took x-rays of her dog’s abdomen and found a severe impaction in the small intestine.
Now we ask, “How on earth does a dog get sand in it’s stomach?” There are several ways, but the most common is Coprophagia, eating feces. Dogs are notorious for eating other dog’s and cat feces. The more problem-some for sand impaction is cats as it is buried in the dirt/sand. Obviously, this is confined to areas of sandy soils or if your dog as access to sandy places such as playgrounds.
Another way that your dog can ingest large quantities of sand at one time is at the beach! Sand in the shallow break water, sand on toys and other dogs they are playing with can all lead to your dog ingesting enough sand to cause an impaction.
Either way, a sand in dogs left unchecked can lead to surgery or even death. If your dog lives in a sandy area, has access to sandy areas or goes to the beach you will want to watch for these signs of sand accumulation: vomiting is the number one sign followed by anorexia, lethargy and abdominal pain. The reason for the vomiting is that the blockage does not allow the food to pass through the intestine. It “washes” back into the stomach and is eliminated by vomiting.
Any time your dog has repeated incidents of vomiting you should take them to their vet immediately. You should also consult with your vet if your dog consumes feces on a regular basis as it could be a deficiency in their diet or malabsorption.
Prevention is the best remedy when it comes to an impaction. Limiting your dog’s access to sandy areas, feces and monitoring them closely at beaches are the best remedies. As a side note, a dog that consumes too much salt water at the beach can also suffer dehydration as well as diarrhea and vomiting. Always keep fresh water available for your dog at the beach and stop any consumption of ocean water. At home, once you rule out health issues, you can add plain pumpkin puree to your dog’s diet after known exposure to sand to help push it through their system. One or two tablespoons for an average sized dog once a day until all signs of sand in their stool is gone is plenty.
Now that you know about sand impaction in dogs, if you live in a sandy area be sure to let your friends know about it too. You just might save them from an expensive trip to the vet or even save a dog’s life.