Gastrointestinal foreign bodies are a common finding over the past 6 months here at VCH! We have seen it all from rocks, to underwear, to a kitchen towel!
If you suspect your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t have, or you know for a fact they ate something, please call us right away! As an owner, you should not wait to see if the object will pass on its own. Do not try to induce vomiting without a veterinarian’s okay, as there are some foreign bodies that can cause just as much harm coming back out.
Clinical signs your pet may experience if they ate something foreign or toxic:
•Vomiting or gagging
•Lack of appetite
•Changes in typical behavior
•Changes in bowels — diarrhea, constipation
Diagnosing a gastrointestinal foreign body
The veterinarian will likely recommend full blood work which will include a complete blood count and chemistry panel. The chemistry panel will tell the vet if there are liver, kidney, pancreas, or electrolyte abnormalities. A complete blood cell count is used to look for signs of infection and anemia.
Radiographs (x-rays) are likely going to be the next step in diagnosing a foreign body. While some objects, such as bones and metal, are obvious on radiographs, others, such as cloth are not. In these cases your veterinarian may have your pet swallow barium, which is a liquid that is visible on radiographs. A series of radiographs enables the veterinarian to watch the barium move through the digestive tract. The barium may actually surround the object and make it visible, or the barium may stop moving, indicating the possible location of the obstruction.
Sometimes these tests do not give us a final answer and exploratory surgery is needed. A negative exploratory may be the result, meaning that no problem or foreign body was found. If the vet does not find any obvious problem with the internal organs, biopsies are taken as microscopic disease may be causing the clinical signs. Even though it may seem disappointing to not find a problem that can be surgically corrected, it is better to explore the abdomen than ignore a surgical problem that the pet could potentially pass away from. Fortunately, most abdominal exploratories yield a surgically correctable disease.
If you know that your pet has ingested something it shouldn’t have, or is showing the above clinical signs please bring them to a veterinarian immediately.
As always if you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact us here at The Veterinary Center of Hudson.