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Intussusception in Basset Hounds

Intussusception in Basset Hounds

Intussusception is a relatively common medical condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract of dogs, including Basset Hounds. This condition occurs when a portion of the intestine slides into an adjoining part, similar to the segments of a telescope. This process can cause a blockage in the intestine leading to severe health issues if not treated promptly. Early signs include vomiting and/or diarrhea so it’s important to be on the lookout for signs.


The primary causes of intussusception encompass a variety of factors that induce inflammation of the intestines (enteritis). These include:

  • Parasitic infections, such as those caused by hookworms, whipworms, and roundworms.
  • Bacterial, protozoal, or viral infections, including Giardia, Salmonella, canine distemper, and parvovirus.
  • Ingestion of foreign bodies (e.g., bones, plastic toys).
  • Sudden changes in diet.
  • Presence of intestinal masses or tumors.
  • Previous surgical procedures on the intestine.

A mismatch in intestinal motility, where a hypermotile segment telescopes into a segment with reduced motility, can also lead to intussusception​​.

Risk Factors

While intussusception can affect dogs of all breeds, it is more commonly observed in younger animals, typically less than one year old. Certain breeds may have a higher predisposition to this condition, though specific information on Basset Hounds’ susceptibility compared to other breeds is not well-documented​​.


The symptoms of intussusception can vary but often include:

  • Episodes of diarrhea or vomiting preceding the condition.
  • Bloody diarrhea, sometimes described as having a “currant jelly” appearance.
  • Abdominal pain, which may manifest as a dog exhibiting discomfort or distress.
  • A palpable abdominal mass, usually identifiable by a veterinarian during a physical examination.

These symptoms are not exclusive to intussusception and can indicate other health issues, making it essential for a veterinarian’s evaluation if a dog shows such signs​​​​.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosis typically involves a combination of a physical exam, where a veterinarian may detect an abdominal mass, and imaging tests such as radiographs (X-rays) or ultrasound. These tests help confirm the presence of intussusception and assess the extent of the obstruction or tissue damage.

Treatment generally requires surgical intervention to correct the telescoped sections of the intestine. In some cases, affected portions of the intestine may need to be removed and the healthy ends reattached. Prompt treatment is crucial to prevent further complications and improve the chances of a successful recovery​​.


Preventative measures focus on minimizing the risk factors associated with intussusception. These include maintaining a consistent diet, ensuring your dog is free from parasites through regular deworming, and avoiding the ingestion of foreign objects. Vaccination against parvovirus is also recommended as part of a broader preventative healthcare plan​​.

Try not to let your hound eat anything which may upset its stomach and be aware that dogs (more so these days) can become allergic or intolerant quite suddenly to foods and proteins that they’ve never previously had a problem with.

Further Reading

There was an interesting medical study which looked at Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) being a predisposing cause of Intussusception which can be viewed here.

There is another interesting document published in 1991 by the American Veterinary Medical Association which discusses in detail the case of a 7 year old male Basset who was seen eating waste, then becoming ill the very next day and his health rapidly declining:

An adult Basset Hound was examined because of acute vomiting, signs of depression, dehydration, and signs of abdominal pain. Radiography revealed a soft tissue dense mass in the stomach. At exploratory laparotomy, 75% of the stomach was black, and the pylorus, proximal portion of the duodenum, and pancreas were found inverted into the stomach. The dog was euthanatized.
Read the full document

Bowersox TS, Caywood DD, Hayden DW. Idiopathic, duodenogastric intussusception in an adult dog. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1991 Dec 1;199(11):1608-9. PMID: 1778746.


Intussusception is a serious condition that can affect Basset Hounds among other breeds. Understanding the causes, recognizing the symptoms, and seeking timely veterinary care are essential for the health and well-being of affected dogs. By taking preventative measures, owners can reduce the risk of intussusception and ensure their pets lead healthy, happy lives.

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