When your Vail Valley Pet eats foreign objects~
Pets love to eat things! After many sleepless nights recently in my veterinary hospital, I have learned just how many things (other than their pet food) pets eat! Here at Mountain Mobile Vet And The Animal Hospital Center, we offer 24/7 on call emergency care for Vail Valley Pets, and so often, our emergencies consist of pets that ate something they should not have!
“Foreign bodies” occur when pets consume objects that will not readily pass thru 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.
While some foreign bodies can pass readily thru the intestinal tract, others will remain in portions of the intestinal tract and can cause toxicities , such as lead material that can cause systemic toxicity, vs . obstructive objects which can block the flow of ingesta thru the bowel and cause systemic toxicity , bowel rupture, torsion and eventual death. Other types of foreign bodies can actually perforate the intestine (causing a hole thru the bowel) which allows ingesta to pass into the abdominal cavity leading to life threatening infection and eventual death if not treated. String foreign bodies can cause “plication “ of the intestine where sections of intestine overlap and stop moving, and in many cases the string will cut thru the intestine causing severe infection and death.
Signs that your pet could have ingested a foreign body are:
If you suspect your pet has ingested foreign material, 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, an Xray 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, 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, a “Gastrotomy” can be performed to remove that object, and with proper aftercare, this carries a good prognosis.
If the object has lodged in the small intestine, and “enterotomy” can be performed and again with aggressive hospitalization, the pet can recover well.
It is important to assess these patients early , as “time is of the essence.”
Many times obstructive foreign bodies can cause Bowel necrosis and death which requires the surgeons to remove sections of bowel, and this carries a more guarded 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!