Whether we like it or not, dogs will chew and swallow things that they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, some of these objects, or ‘foreign bodies’, can become stuck in the gut and obstruct the flow of digested food. Eventually, the part of the gut that is obstructed becomes severely damages and ‘dies off’, and causes an infection throughout the whole abdomen. If the bacteria escapes into the bloodstream, the pup can end up with sepsis, making him or her even sicker. So, there are many, many reasons to prevent all this from happening.
So what are the main culprits for foreign body intestinal obstructions? Some dogs, such as many Labrador Retrievers are like four-legged vacuum cleaners and will gulp down anything that crosses their paths, putting them at greater risk for this problem. However, for most dogs, as a general rule, anything that may taste good is a risk. Usually in a true obstruction, surgery is required to open the intestine and remove the offending object. If the dog is very sick due to the blockage, he or she may need to be stabilized with IV fluids and medication first. Objects that vets commonly pull out of pet intestines include clothing (underwear seems to be very popular!), corn cobs, wine corks and toys such as balls or chew toys. Although more common in dogs, cats can also swallow things they shouldn’t.
To try and prevent this from happening, your furry friends should only be allowed access to tough, high quality toys and these should be taken away if the dog starts to tear them apart. Access to garbage bins and laundry hampers should be prevented. Cooked bones are very dangerous as they could damage the gut, and any bones given should be raw with rounded edges. Finally, if you think your pet may have swallowed an object that cannot be digested, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.