veterinarianIn the digital day and age, the timeless excuse that the dog ate your homework may not be as relevant as it once was. That doesn’t stop us, however, from seeing a wide variety of items that pets have ingested.

Foreign bodies in pets can be serious business, but if Fido or Felix eats something he shouldn’t have, a trusted veterinarian near you is ready to help.

You Are What You Eat

All too often our pets ingest things they shouldn’t. This may be due to curiosity, boredom, or even carelessness. While some items are actually toxic or can cause a secondary illness like pancreatitis, others pose a physical risk. Even inert objects can become stuck or lodged in the digestive tract, wreaking havoc on your pet’s insides.

Common foreign bodies in pets that may need treatment include:

  • Balls
  • String or ribbon
  • Small toys
  • Coins
  • Corn cobs
  • Large fruit pits
  • Underwear or socks
  • Carpeting or towels
  • Chewed off pieces of plastic, rubber, or foam
  • Rocks
  • Mulch

Of course, the list of things a pet might ingest is only limited by your imagination. We have seen about everything.

If you know that certain items are tempting for your pet, or notice him chewing on something that shouldn’t be chewed on, be sure to take the proper precautions to stop the behavior.

Retrieving Foreign Bodies in Pets

Some foreign bodies will pass without trouble. Oftentimes, we may wait to see if the item becomes lodged in the digestive tract or causes other trouble before we go after it. Sometimes, however, the danger of waiting outweighs the treatment and prompt action is best.

Foreign bodies in pets are initially assessed via radiographs to determine where the object is in the digestive tract. Other testing, such as blood work, endoscopy, special radiographic studies (as with barium), or ultrasound, may be utilized to give us more information about what is going on.

If it is determined that a foreign object needs to be retrieved, there are a few ways that we might go about this, depending on the individual situation:

Inducing vomiting – If the object is still in the stomach and does not pose danger coming back up, we may choose to induce vomiting. While sometimes inducing vomiting at home with hydrogen peroxide may be indicated, you should always consult us first. It can be dangerous to do this with some objects and hydrogen peroxide use can have serious side effects. We have more effective, less dangerous ways to accomplish this task in our hospital.

Endoscopy – If an object is in the esophagus, stomach, or early part of the small intestine, sometimes we are able to retrieve it using endoscopy. While the pet will need to be sedated to have the camera passed, it is a relatively non-invasive means of getting that wedding ring back.

Exploratory laparotomy – If a foreign object is lodged, has damaged the intestine, or is just too dangerous to retrieve any other way, an exploratory laparotomy may be recommended. This is simply a surgery in which we open your pet and retrieve the object. Sometimes the object has caused damage to parts of the intestinal tract that need to be surgically fixed or even removed.

Pets eat objects that they shouldn’t all the time. The vast majority of instances resolve on their own without any complications. Sometimes, however, we are unlucky and need to intervene.

Whether your dog has eaten your homework or your hard drive, please contact us immediately so that we can help assess the situation and step in, if necessary.