Foreign body ingestion refers to eating anything that is not food. Pets can be curious creatures with curious appetites. Some of the common foreign body ingestions we encounter include rocks, socks, shoes, toys, sticks, clothing, bones and personal hygiene products. Sometimes objects move through the digestive tract without incident and are passed within 10-24 hours. However, many of these objects can become “stuck” in the digestive tract and quickly become life threatening.
If you suspect your pet has ingested something they shouldn’t have, monitor them closely for the following signs:
- Decreased appetite
- Straining to pass feces
- Abdominal pain
- Behavioural changes (for example, growling when being picked up)
If any of the above symptoms are noticed, have then examined by a veterinarian immediately.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Blood work may be performed to assess your pets’ overall health. Radiographs may be required to visualize the object. Treatment depends of the size and shape of the object, the time when it was ingested, and location in the digestive tract. Treatment may include inducing vomiting, IV fluid therapy, pain management, and potentially surgery to remove the object.
Prevention is key! If your pet is prone to eating things they shouldn’t, limit their access to tempting items. Insure all food scraps are out of reach, keep a clean house, supervise your pets with toys and remove any toys that have become damaged.