Dogs are playful critters that are very curious, just like children. They can eat some of the strangest things . . . any foreign object is edible to them. That is why we have to be so careful about things laying around the house that could be potentially harming our pets. The problem is that many of the things they can get a hold of cannot be digested or pass through the intestines, and ends up causing an obstruction. These items are considered gastrointestinal foreign objects (which is anything consumed that is not a food item). If the consumed item cannot be expelled through the proper channels in the intestines, it may cause a blockage in the stomach and intestines, and surgery may be required to remove the item.
Some of the most common items that veterinarians have had to surgically remove are very common items around the house such as –
· Chew toys
· Panty hose
· Hair ties and ribbons
· Corn cobs
Some items inadvertently swallowed may be small enough to pass while larger items can get “stuck”. Dogs two years old and younger are more susceptible to finding, chewing and swallowing toys and things they can reach around the home. After all, these youngsters are more curious and playful than most other dogs.
Many times you may notice your dog getting into something inappropriate . . . even if too late. Other signs to watch for are when your dog won’t eat, begins vomiting (sometimes with nothing coming out), excessive drooling and abnormal bowel movements.
In order to diagnose the problem, your veterinarian will need a complete medical history of your dog along with a radiograph to pinpoint the obstruction. On rare occasions, a barium ink may be needed for special internal pictures of any possible elusive items. Once pictures show the extent of the problem, your doctor can remove it.
A dog that has a gastrointestinal foreign body obstruction usually suffers from dehydration and electrolyte imbalance, usually due to vomiting and not eating. Intravenous fluids will be given to your dog prior to anesthesia and surgery. The extent of the surgery depends on the obstruction, its location and size. In some cases, parts of the intestine may need to be removed. Thereafter, all incisions are sutured while your dog continues intravenous fluids until he/she begins to eat and drink on its’ own. Medications may be prescribed as well as a continued hospital stay, dependent upon your dog’s condition.
Once your dog is able to eat and drink, the patient can go home under your care. Feed your dog a bland diet for 2 – 3 days before gradually returning to the normal diet. A baby food or prescription bland diet is typically recommended. You may need to continue administering medication as well as care of the incision. An Elizabethan collar may be necessary to avoid your dog further irritating the incision. Sutures will be removed within 7 – 10 days from date of the surgery. Monitor the incision site for swelling, redness and discharge. Also advise your veterinarian if your dog refuses to eat normally or continues vomiting.
Never allow your pet to get a hold of dangerous household items such as string, plastics and clothing. Sometimes accidents do happen so if you notice your dog has consumed something inappropriate, call your veterinarian immediately. The sooner your dog is diagnosed, less invasive is the procedure. Of course, best scenario is to puppy proof your home as you would for a child . . . after all, they are just like kids.
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