Pet Talk: Pets love to eat things
February 23, 2018
After many sleepless nights recently in my veterinary hospital, I have learned just how many things pets eat (other than their pet food).
"Foreign bodies" occur when pets consume objects that will not readily pass through the intestinal tract. Common foreign bodies seen in dogs include toys, ropes, bones, sticks, balls, rocks, clothing, shoes and or boots and even coins. Common foreign bodies seen in cats are string, small plastic objects, ribbon and plant material.
Once your pet has consumed a "foreign body," the duration and location of the object can greatly determine the prognosis of the pet passing that object and/or having it removed.
Signs that your pet could have ingested a foreign body are:
Vomiting both food and water
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Lack of bowel movements
Weakness and collapse
If you suspect your pet has ingested foreign material, then it is imperative to see your veterinarian.
Typically, your veterinarian will perform a full physical exam, which will allow them to ascertain if there is evidence to proceed to further diagnostics.
To determine if there is a foreign body, then an X-ray study is performed. In some cases, an ultrasound is also very helpful. Should a veterinarian suspect an object is attempting to pass but cannot locate it, pets can be given a substance called "barium" which lights up the intestinal tract as it travels and can quickly reveal the source of the blockage.
A complete blood count and chemistry panel should be performed to determine the internal health status of the patient.
From there, what can you do?
Some patients can pass the foreign bodies if hospitalized on intravenous fluids.
If an object is small and easily retracted, then an endoscope — which is small camera — can be inserted into the upper GI tract and remove the object.
If the object is located in the stomach and is too big to pass or remove, then a gastrotomy can be performed to remove that object, and with proper aftercare, this carries a good prognosis.
In conclusion, be smart about objects and clothing left around the house. Be proactive should you know your pet has eaten something foreign. Don't wait if your pet shows any of the signs listed and see your veterinarian as soon as possible.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.