Dogs and cats are curious creatures, and many of them use their mouths to explore the new and unfamiliar. While it might be harmless for your dog to snack on a blade of grass or for your cat to steal a piece of runaway cheese from the floor, many of the objects that our pets go after can really hurt them and have devastating health consequences.
The most common health issue caused by an ingested object is foreign body obstruction. Foreign body obstruction occurs when something that your pet eats becomes lodged in their intestinal tract. This not only causes discomfort, it can also affect digestion and result in death.
So what should you do if your cat or dog eats something weird?
1. Call The Vet Immediately
If you see your pet swallow something large, sharp, or unusual, don’t wait. Call your veterinarian immediately and ask if you should bring your pet in to the office. In many cases, they will advise that you do. If your vet suspects trouble, they will most likely order X-rays. Depending on the severity of the situation, they will either induce vomiting, attempt to remove the object via endoscopy (a tube placed down the throat), or, if the object has made its way into the intestines, perform invasive surgery.
2. Look Out For Symptoms
If you aren’t sure whether or not your pet has eaten something weird (but you suspect that they may have), call your veterinarian and start looking out for symptoms. Symptoms may not appear until 24 hours later, and in some cases, it can take months for an object to become lodged and start causing problems. Symptoms to look out for include: vomiting, changes in bowel movements (diarrhea or constipation), lethargy, lack of appetite, behavioral changes, and painful abdomen. Contact your veterinarian if your pet is exhibiting any of these symptoms.
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3. Never Induce Vomiting or Pull A Stuck Object From Your Pet’s Rear End
While veterinarians may be able to induce vomiting to retrieve an object in some cases, you should never try this at home, as some objects may cause damage coming back up, and only a veterinarian can determine what is safe and appropriate. On that same note, you should never pull out an object that is protruding from your pet’s rear end. Even if the object appears to be coming out, it could still be stuck, and pulling it out could cause serious damage.
How To Keep Your Pet From Eating The Inedible
Ending up in the emergency room with a pet who has eaten something indigestible is not a pleasant experience. It can not only be incredibly expensive to remove a lodged object, your pet may also be seriously ill, and their life may be at risk.
To avoid ever having to deal with this terrible situation, take preventative measures:
If you know that your dog can chew up and swallow certain types of toys (stuffed animals, rubber balls, etc.) don’t give your dog those toys anymore. Instead, look for heavy duty toys intended for serious chewers. This same rule goes for cats. Don’t give your cat any toy that can easily break down and be swallowed.
Pet-proof your house by keeping tempting items locked away in cupboards, up on high shelves, or generally away from reach. Does your cat go after shoelaces? Keep your footwear in a closed closet. Does your dog like to crunch cans? Make sure the recycling bin has a lid.
Keep an eye on your pet when they go outside. Some dogs love to chew rocks, sticks, or anything else they find on the ground, and those objects can be dangerous. If going to a new location, keep your dog on a leash until you check out the surroundings. Additionally, teach the “come” command so that you can call your pal back if you ever let them off leash and see that they’re trying to munch on something strange.
Has your pet ever ended up at the vet after eating something weird? Tell us your story below, and consider signing up for PetPlus to save on pet medications, boarding, supplies, and visits at select veterinarians nationwide.