Did you know?
Animals “eat” the strangest things. We’ve seen it all in our ER. From fishing line and hook, to golf balls, nylons, rocks, sticks, bones, batteries, underwear, string, toys, a knife, and even a GI Joe action figure.
Dogs and cats are much like toddlers in their curiosity and desire to put everything in their mouths. Many times everything passes through with time and the animal is fine. But then there are the other times when “Lucky” gets far more than indigestion from the choice of snack for the day.
Let me tell you why!
In veterinary lingo anything ingested by an animal and stuck inside is called a “foreign body”. It means just that, some object foreign to the animals body is inside where it doesn’t belong and needs to come out. Foreign bodies can be dangerous depending on the object and where it is stuck. For instance, something like a pair of nylons stuck in the small intestine can cause the intestine to fold up on itself which in turn causes loss of blood supply and death of the tissue. The medical term for this tissue death is necrosis. This type of foreign body would require surgery to remove the nylons.
An obstruction anywhere in the intestinal tract can cause severe pain so that the abdomen is tense and rigid. “Lucky” might also have some vomiting or diarrhea. Or you might notice “Lucky” straining to defecate with nothing coming out. Any of these signs require immediate veterinary care. It is important to tell the veterinarian about any possible ingestion of a foreign body. The veterinarian will take x-rays or perform an ultrasound to look for the obstruction.
Most foreign body obstructions require surgery to remove the offending object. The surgeon will also inspect the surrounding area, remove any of the necrotic tissue and sew the healthy sections back together. Pets recovering from surgery for an intestinal obstruction usually need to be hospitalized for several days. Intravenous fluids are needed to keep the pet hydrated and to correct any metabolic imbalances. Follow-up home care includes small feedings with a bland diet for several days while the digestive tract heals and gradually returns to normal. Full recovery is good in uncomplicated cases, but the outcome may not be as favorable if the intestinal tract has been severely damaged.
The moral of the story…sometimes pets eat the darndest things and there isn’t anything owners can do about it.