Sometimes your pet may consume objects that cannot pass through the gastrointestinal tract or be digested. Unfortunately, it is animal nature to be curious about objects outdoors or inside that are small, and this can occasionally lead to accidental ingestion. Your pet may also mistake objects as food that are not digestible. This can include toys, string, rocks, or any small items they can ingest. It’s important to take preventative measures to avoid obstructions in your pet by keeping close watch over them when they are outside or playing to ensure that there aren’t any small objects they can swallow. Toys should be monitored and replaced regularly if they are starting to fall apart or shed any material. These objects being swallowed can cause complications such as toxicity or poisoning, infection, and inflammation or obstruction in the digestive tract or abdominal lining. A pet who has swallowed a foreign object may show the following symptoms:
Objects that are made out of materials such as lead or zinc can also be toxic when they are swallowed and absorbed into the body, so it is important to call your vet immediately if you think your pet may have swallowed a foreign object. Treatment for this condition will vary depending on what was ingested, how it was ingested, when it was ingested, and the symptoms of your pet.
Your vet will likely first perform some initial blood work, such as a complete blood count (CBC), serum chemistry, and a urinalysis that might rule out other conditions and detect whether poison is an issue..Sometimes the object will be passed naturally without complication, but some cases may require surgery.Your vet will perform a physical examination and other tests in order to determine what the safest treatment is for removing the object. Options for removal include the following:
Endoscopic retrieval: This involves inserting a camera through the mouth and down the esophagus of the animal so that the vet can see where the object is and remove it. It is minimally invasive and doesn’t require much recovery time.
Thoracic surgery: This is more invasive than an endoscopy, but may be necessary if the foreign object is past the esophagus. This treatment will require a significant amount of recovery time with stitches and potentially antibiotics.
Gastrotomy: This surgical method may be required if the object is in the stomach and will require significant recovery time with stitches and potentially antibiotics.
Enterotomy: If the object has passed through the intestines, the gastrointestinal tract may need to be opened in order for it to be removed. This will require significant recovery time with stitches and potentially antibiotics.
Natural Passing: If the object is determined to be of very little danger to your pet, it may be passed naturally so long as you monitor your pet closely for any signs of complication.