This is what a foreign body made out of fabric looks like, after a couple of days in the intestines. (Photo by KatDoc.)
A very sick Golden Retriever was admitted to the animal hospital a couple of days ago. He looked very poorly, and had not eaten for two weeks. After having scanned (using ultrasound) and x-rayed him, the surgeons decided to open him up, as every clue pointed to a foreign body in the intestines.
The foreign body turned out to be a pair of underpants stuck in his smaller intestine. Sadly the underpants had been stuck there for a very long time, and the dog did not survive the night, because of the state his intestines were in.
This is not a rare case, and dogs are often admitted to have foreign bodies removed. When the owner reacts quickly it is possible to remove foreign bodies by making the animal vomit, or by the use of an endoscope. This is a procedure that does not require the use of surgery and there are few risks involves.
If the foreign body is left to continue past the stomach and gets stuck in the intestines, it has to be removed surgically. A foreign body can cause a lot of damage.
Even things that you might think are pretty harmless, like a thread, can be deadly. A tread is difficult to discover using x-rays and ultrasound scans, and can start cutting through the intestines!
Precautions and symptoms
Some dogs and cats will eat almost anything. If you think your pet could possibly eat foreign bodies, like a sock, a bone or a piece of string, you need to make sure that anything it could eat, is out of it’s reach. Make sure the animal has lots of toys that are too big to swallow, to reduce the interest of dangerous items. This is even more important when it is home alone, when it might get bored and therefore start exploring!
If you suspect that your pet has eaten a foreign body, you should get to the vets and have it examined. If it starts vomiting, drooling, stops eating or has abnormal bowel movements, it might be signs of a foreign object and you must react promptly.
KatDoc has several interesting posts on her blog, about cases involving foreign bodies. The photo at the top of this post is from one of KatDoc's posts, involving the removal of a sock. The sock looks just like the underpants we removed from the Golden Retriever.