Emergency conditions

Ingestion of foreign objects in dogs and cats

Dogs and cats are curious animals and it often happens, which is more true for dogs than for cats, that they eat an object that is not intended for food. Often an ingested object passes easily through the esophagus but is retained either in the stomach or in the small intestine. There are also certain foreign bodies that can get stuck in the esophagus itself. Symptoms that accompany swallowing a foreign body are persistent vomiting, loss of appetite, general weakness, absence of defecation, or a small amount of liquid feces. Removal of a foreign body from the stomach and intestines is performed surgically, while some foreign bodies from the esophagus can be removed endoscopically.

Injured dog

A “stuck” foreign body in the digestive tract can cause major problems, and this condition is considered urgent, and urgent medical support and surgical remediation are often needed. If it is not removed, the foreign body can lead to perforation of the organs of the digestive system, with a widespread infection of the abdominal cavity (peritonitis), to shock and death.

Depending on where the foreign body is located, as well as what its characteristics are, the symptoms can be pronounced and violent, but also mild and hidden. The most dramatic clinical picture is in animals in which the foreign body is in the front parts of the digestive tract, they are very upset, they expel the contents from the esophagus (regurgitation), they act as if they are suffocating. When a foreign body is in the stomach and intestines, the symptoms can also vary, often reminiscent of other symptoms of diseases of the digestive tract, and the most drastic clinical picture occurs when complete obstruction and perforation of the intestine occurs.

The animals, due to pain and loss of fluids and electrolytes through vomiting and diarrhea, are often in poor general condition, apathetic, refuse to eat, do not interact with the environment, often vomit or try to vomit.

The diagnosis is made on the basis of data taken from the owner of the animal, on the basis of clinical symptoms and detailed clinical examination, laboratory analyzes, and specific diagnostic procedures such as abdominal ultrasound and X-ray imaging of cranial and caudal parts of the digestive tract. It is often necessary, after establishing the diagnosis, and before the surgery, to stabilize the animal and support it with supportive therapy in order to withstand the intervention and to prevent or reduce the consequences of obstruction of the digestive system.

In animals that are prone to eating items that are not intended for eating, additional care of the owner is needed, in order to prevent the whole problem. Toys and other objects available to animals for play should be such that it is impossible for the animal to swallow them whole or to break off and swallow their parts. Other inedible items that the animal shows interest in or tries to chew, eat, should be placed out of the pet’s home.