The Dangers of Pet Foreign Bodies

Pet foreign bodies can be a pet emergencyAnimals, especially puppies and kittens, are known for putting things in their mouths to investigate or potentially eat. Many times, the lapse in judgement ends uneventfully, but many objects can be potentially toxic or result in an obstruction if swallowed.

Pet foreign bodies are not an uncommon occurrence, and the veterinarians at Beverly Hills Veterinary Associates want to make sure that our pet owners are aware, so that they can help decrease the chances of their pets being affected.

When Good Toys Go Bad

When non-digestible items, otherwise known as foreign bodies, enter the digestive tract, they can become stuck somewhere along the path out. A foreign body that is stuck in the gastrointestinal tract may cause problems in several ways:

  • Obstruction of the normal flow of ingesta
  • Disruption of gastric or intestinal motility
  • Localized pressure and resulting compromise of the intestines/stomach
  • Formation of perforation in the gut
  • Leakage of bacteria into the bloodstream, due to compromised intestinal health

Pet foreign bodies are not a matter to be taken lightly. Early in the course of an obstruction, a pet may suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, stomach pain, and lethargy. Untreated, though, an obstruction can lead to severe dehydration, sepsis, and even death.

If you suspect your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have, don’t hesitate to call us immediately. The sooner we act, the better the chances that we can intervene before things get serious.

Avoiding Pet Foreign Bodies

As with many things in veterinary medicine, avoiding pet foreign bodies is more effective than treating them once they occur.

Being aware of common culprits and limiting your pet’s access to them can be very helpful. This is particularly important if your furry family member has demonstrated a propensity for eating things that aren’t food.

Prevent access to or supervise interaction with:

  • Smelly objects (dirty socks and underwear are commonly ingested)
  • String-like objects, particularly for cats (fishing line, yarn, ribbon, blind cords)
  • Items in the trash (used feminine products, diapers, cotton-tipped swabs)
  • Small human toys, especially foam items and balls
  • Pet toys that can be destroyed (stuffed animals, rope toys, squeaker toys)
  • Non-digestible, food-related items (packaging, fruit pits or rinds, corn cobs, discarded bones)

Be sure to secure trash cans by placing them in an enclosed closet or cabinet, or use receptacles with secure lids and consider taking more tempting items straight out to the garbage container.

If your pet has anxiety issues or a sudden increase in eating non-food items, they may have a medical issue that needs to be investigated. We are happy to help in these situations.

Pet foreign bodies can be serious business. Sometimes objects are able to be retrieved by the induction of vomiting (do not attempt to do this without veterinary supervision) or even endoscopically. Many times, though, foreign body retrievals require surgical procedure.

Be aware of the items that your pets have access to and be sure to act quickly if an accidental ingestion occurs. Please call us for more information.