Intussusception is a more common condition than you may think. Almost always found in puppies, the conditions is where the intestine telescopes in on itself, this in turn restricts the blood flow to the intestine and if allowed to continue, the affected tissue will die and ultimately, so will the puppy. This condition can kill a puppy in a matter of days.
Although easily treated via an operation, removal of the affected intestine and a short time to heal, the important thing is catching it in first place. Signs of intercusseptiion are; being off food, lethargic, want to pass a stool but not being able too, a temperature, lack of activity in general.
In particular, these symptoms can be see after a period of Diarrhoea This condition is difficult to detect to the untrained eye and often the professionals can't find it until they operate.
To shed some further light n this very rare but critical condition, The LCGB Health Sub-Committee contacted Dr. Benito De La Puerta, a veterinary surgeon at the Royal Veterinary College's Queen Mother Hospital, who has had experience in correcting this condition in very young pups, in our own breed and others. He very kindly agreed to answer a few basic questions about this, particularly in relation to worming treatment, which some breeders have expressed concerns about.
Q- Do you see any patterns of susceptibility in certain breeds or groups of breeds, such as more commonly in large dogs?
Do you see any signs of breed or familial predispositions in this condition?
A- As much as I am aware there is not a breed predisposition but it has been described more commonly in German shepherds. Although it would be something to look into, by keeping a record of all the cases seen in your kennel club. It is slightly more commonly seen in mid to large sized breeds, but can occur in any.
Q- What are thought to be the common causes?
A- Enteritis (inflammation of the intestines) secondary to parasites, viruses (parvovirus), foreign bodies, intestinal masses, previous surgeries, in older dogs often associated with tumor, but in a lot of cases we never discover the cause. Anything that has the potential to affect the rate of motility within the intestines can be suspected.
Q-Do you see any pattern of intussusception occurring following worming, which we have some circumstantial evidence of in our breed?
A-Not that I am aware of. (have found nothing in the literature to indicate this). A worm burden itself is however one known cause.
Q- In the case of worming, what would you recommend in terms of what sort of wormer to use; whether to give on a full or empty belly; whether worming treatment in the mother has any impact in terms of passing on worming treatment to the pups; etc?
A-The best thing is to follow the guidelines given by the worming companies, but I would always recommend administering worming tablets that are prescribed by your veterinary practitioner and not by the ones you can obtain in supermarkets. And always follow a good worming protocol including all the dogs in your household, to decrease the parasite burden.
Q- What is the most common age-range in these cases; very young pups (less than 4 months) or older? What are the signs we should be looking out for?
A- There is a much higher incidence in puppies than in adult dogs. Being more common from eight weeks to one year. Signs: not very specific, Vomiting, depression, anorexia, diarrhea.
Q- Is there any literature on this condition you could recommend to us, particularly any research on breeds, ages, cases that might be helpful to our members?
A - agood web page to access scientific information is pubmed.
I have done a search and there are no papers looking at a specific breed at this time, probably there are not enough cases. There are quite a few scientific papers but looking more into different treatment outcomes, they are not going to give much more information.