Matamata Veterinary Services | Latest News

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Ingestion of foreign objects

January 4, 2016

All too often we treat pets that have accidentally eaten objects that they are not meant to. Things such as fish hooks, balls, items of clothing, bedding and corn cobs – to mention but a few. These objects get stuck as they try to make their way through the long tortuous gastrointestinal tract and can cause life-threatening damage if not removed in time.

It can be very difficult to determine that there is a foreign object lodged somewhere in the body, as signs can be vague. Sometimes the only abnormal behaviour we see is a depressed and lethargic pet, maybe eating less or, or nothing at all. On occasion the signs will include a sore stomach with retching, regurgitation, or vomiting depending on where the object has lodged.

If we have high suspicions of a foreign object, we take x-rays to try and locate the culprit. X-rays are best at picking up bony, metal, or very dense objects, as these show up very well. It is not so easy to see less dense objects, such as clothing or balls and we rely on other signs to pick these up.

If we can’t see anything on x-ray, but we still have a high suspicion, then we use a dye that the pet swallows and we follow through the intestinal tract over time. We can watch as it stops behind the object, or goes around it in a strange pattern. If we detect an object, then we need to perform surgery under a general anaesthetic to remove it.

So this summer when you are out and about enjoying yourself, take care with any objects that your pet may find interesting. Keep fish hooks, bones and corn cobs well out of reach, so that your pet doesn’t get the opportunity to get into trouble.