Curious as they are, pets have a tendency to chew and eat anything that they can get into their mouths. This becomes a serious, potentially life-threatening issue if they swallow the object(s).
Foreign Body Ingestion: The Statistics
In the recent years, foreign body ingestion has become one the five most common claims covered by pet insurance, along with bloat, poisoning, fractures, and lacerations. Of these five common pet emergencies, foreign body ingestion is one the most expensive, which can cost around $2,000 to $5,000.
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Symptoms of Foreign Body Ingestion
Knowing the symptoms of foreign body ingestion will enable you to act immediately and get your pet the help that they need.
Generally, animals with ingested foreign bodies do not feel well. They often act depressed and/or stop eating. Initially, animals with intestinal foreign bodies may also have diarrhea.
Most animals with foreign body ingestion exhibit vomiting. If the object hasn’t blocked the digestive tract completely, the vomiting may be intermittent. However, with a complete blockage, your pet won’t be able to keep anything down, even liquids. The longer this blockage lasts, the more dangerous your pet’s condition becomes.
Diagnosing Foreign Body Ingestion
If you suspect that your pet has a foreign body ingestion, take them to a veterinarian immediately.
Oftentimes, the veterinarian may be able to diagnose an obstruction by simply touching your pet’s abdomen. However, if they suspect an intestinal foreign body, your veterinarian may recommend x-rays. This will give you and the veterinarian a clearer look at what your pet has ingested, be it a bone, metal, rock, or some other foreign object.
In more difficult obstructive cases, imaging may not be enough to fully diagnose your pet’s condition. Based on the condition of the patient, symptoms, history, and test results, your veterinarian may suggest an exploratory surgery to find the suspected obstruction.
Keeping Your Pet Safe: How to Prevent Your Pets from Swallowing Foreign Objects
There are numerous things that you can do to keep your pet safe and keep them from swallowing foreign objects:
- Keep commonly ingested things out of reach
- Examine all chew toys and check any small pieces that may be chewed off and eaten
- Monitor any damaged chew toys – discard any small remnants
- Talk to your veterinarian about appropriately sized chew toys (consider ALL the pets in your home)
If you suspect that your pet has ingested a foreign body, contact your veterinarian immediately. The sooner your pet receives medical attention, the better their chances of recovery are with fewer complications.
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