The Scary Truth About Foreign Bodies in Pets

November 29, 2017

orange tabby cat holding a santa pet toy for christmas

What do socks, corncobs, balls, shoes, hair ties, and pennies have in common? Among other infamous items known to tantalize bored, curious, or hungry pets, these household items can become foreign bodies in pets. It usually begins as a game, batting around objects as toys, but licking, chewing, and biting can quickly result in consumption.

Foreign bodies in pets can pass through the intestinal tract or be vomited, but they can also result in damaging consequences.

All Year Long

Pets deserve our vigilance all year long to make sure they don’t eat something they shouldn’t, but the holidays present excessively risky opportunities. Ribbon, bows, tinsel, string, and cords are enticing to all pets, but especially cats. With their barbed tongues, long, stringy things are very difficult to set free once a feline starts to lick or chew. The result? A possible intestinal obstruction.

Linear Foreign Bodies in Pets

A type of gastrointestinal obstruction, a linear foreign body is a common diagnosis. Typical symptoms include vomiting, dry heaving, lack of appetite, depression, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and dehydration. Prompt veterinary attention reduces the chance of gastric or intestinal rupture.

The Importance of Imaging

Even if you know what your pet ate, some clinical signs are nonspecific. Diagnosing foreign bodies in pets is only truly possible through various imaging techniques. Radiography (digital x-rays), contrast abdominal compression, abdominal ultrasonography, and upper GI series with barium, contrast material are employed to find the exact location of the foreign body, and what it might be (if you aren’t sure).

Surgical Options

In the case of tinsel or ribbon, an animal’s intestinal tract is profoundly damaged. Part of the foreign object can remain in the stomach, while the other half moves to the lower intestines. Foreign bodies can actually cut into the intestinal tract or even sever it, leaking the contents into the abdomen causing a severe infection.

Surgery becomes necessary to treat a pet with a foreign body. Gastrointestinal surgery allows Pets In Stitches to remove the obstruction from the intestinal tract. Overnight observation may be necessary, but foreign bodies in pets can be treated with precision, and home instructions for post-surgical care will be provided.

The Holidays

This time of year poses other kinds of dangers to pets. Like foreign bodies in pets, choking hazards are very real threats. It’s important to be aware of fallen pine needles, glass or ceramic ornaments, wire hooks for the tree, loose light string bulbs, and bones from the dinner platter.

Pet emergencies happen when you least expect them. When you know that the holidays are full of possible dangers, you reduce the risk of exposure. Of course, if you have any questions or concerns, our Pets in Stitches team members are always here for you.

Come. Stay. Heal.

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