Have you ever heard the expression “eat like a dog” or “dogs eat anything?” Ever wonder where those stem from? If you own a dog, you know firsthand that from time to time they get curious and occasionally try to ingest something that they shouldn’t.
We’ve all heard horror stories of a dog having to be rushed to the ER to have his stomach pumped, or know of a person whose pup has passed a foreign object and was back to normal immediately after. What should you do if your dog eats something that he shouldn’t? Should you take him to the vet or wait to see if it passes in his stools? Check out our suggestions below.
Signs your pet ate something foreign
If your dog is exhibiting any of the following symptoms, it may mean that he ingested something foreign or toxic:
- Vomiting (usually starts as food and proceeds to water) or gagging
- Painful abdomen
- Lack of appetite
- Changes in typical behavior
- Changes in bowels — diarrhea, constipation
Go to the vet immediately
If your dog ingests a foreign object, you should take her to the vet. If your normal vet is unavailable, call a 24-hour emergency animal clinic and describe the situation. According to Shari Brown, DVM, the best measure is to allow the professionals to properly assess the situation.
“Owners 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.”
If the veterinarian suspects that a foreign object has been ingested, they will order X-rays to determine the appropriate method of treatment. Depending on the severity of the situation, a vet may able to help your dog pass the object by inducing vomiting.
Some objects may need to be removed through endoscopy. If that is the case, the vet will place a long tube down your dog’s throat and will remove the object from her stomach. “This is non-invasive, involves less risks, and the only recovery time is from the anesthesia,” says Brown.
If the object has passed through the stomach and into the intestines, however, a more invasive surgery may be required. “There are less complications if the object can be gotten out of the stomach than out of the intestines. If an intestinal obstruction occurs, there is a risk of having to remove some of the intestines, which increases the chance of complications.”