When your pet has ingested something into his body, the resulting symptoms can be quite frightening. However, with proper equipment and a competent vet surgeon, foreign bodies can be removed from your pet’s intestinal tract and he can return to normal quite quickly.
What Happens with a Foreign Body?
When your pet consumes something that will not pass through his intestinal tract, it becomes blocked and there must be a foreign body procedure to remove the item. Anything from a toy to a bone to an item of trash can become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract and make your pet miserable. Our goal is to perform minimally invasive surgery using our leading edge equipment including a variety of endoscopic surgical tools that allow us to remove any foreign objects your pet may have swallowed. What tool and procedure we use depends upon things such as where the foreign body is in the intestines, how obstructed the intestines are, how long the item has been in the pet’s body and any issues having to do with toxicities of the ingested item.
Symptoms of Blockage
The symptoms of a foreign body vary depending on location, severity, and type of item. Common symptoms include:
Loss of appetite
A life-threatening complication can occur if the object has perforated the intestinal tract and its contents infiltrate the abdomen, potentially leading to sepsis. String commonly causes this type of perforation.
Treatment and Intervention
When the foreign body is in the stomach, we can often use an endoscope to remove it. Wherever possible, we use minimally invasive surgery with one of our tools including bronchoscope, gastroscope or colonoscope. Foreign bodies stuck in the mouth, esophagus and stomach may be removed with a flexible endoscope. Sometimes, though, surgical exploration and removal of the body may be necessary.
Sometimes a pet can develop a complication from the foreign body removal which necessitates separate treatment. Otherwise, after the procedure, they need to be monitored to make sure they can eat normally and all other vital signs returned to normal. Additionally, pets will need to be monitored to ensure that they return to eating. Finally, evaluation for presence of intestinal or stomach leakage will need to be done for 3-5 days postoperatively. Intravenous fluids and antibiotics may also be necessary.
Most of the time, removing the foreign body is a simple process that results in total recovery. Your pet should be able to eat normally after just one or two days and everything else return to normal as well. The outcome can become worse if there is a significant delay in recognizing that there is a problem and getting the pet to the vet. Also, if there is perforation, peritonitis and/or sepsis can set in, making the outcome guarded and perhaps requiring more involved operative intervention and postoperative care.
Basically if you should not swallow it, your pet should not swallow it. Carnivores are attracted to the smell and taste of blood. Please make garbage cans containing blood, bones, corn cobs and other ingestible dangerous materials inaccessible to your pets at all times to help prevent this problem.
Whatever the case, La Concepcion Animal Hospital, your veterinarian in Santa Barbara, will use the most minimally invasive procedure to remove a foreign body from your pet's gastrointestinal tract.