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Does Your Dog Have an Appetite for Life?

What to expect if your dog eats something weird

Posted May 08, 2012 in Dog Diet & Nutrition

Dogs are naturally curious, but sometimes their curiosity gets the best of them. This is especially true for dogs with mouths like vacuum cleaners – they tend to eat a lot of strange things. As connoisseurs of life, many dogs don’t hesitate to sample all sorts of objects from toilet paper to rocks, shoes to sticks, clothing, and even garbage. While many of these things somehow pass through the intestinal tract without incident – and at a dog-owner’s dismay – sometimes a dog’s appetite for life can cause problems. This is also true for cats – be sure to read about the dangers of foreign object ingestion to your kitty, especially the potentially dangerous habit of eating thread. 

If you know your dog has ingested something he or she shouldn't have, call your veterinarian immediately.The most common problem with this is foreign body obstruction. A potentially life-threatening condition, foreign body obstruction occurs when one of the many strange objects (foreign bodies) ingested by your dog is unable to make it successfully through the intestinal tract. When the object becomes “stuck,” it can cause a lot of discomfort and be very dangerous.

Causes and Symptoms
When something is ingested by your dog, it usually takes between 10-24 hours to move through the entire digestive tract. Some objects, however, can take much longer – even months!

Sometimes, objects are too big to progress through the digestive tract, and when this is the case, they cause an obstruction. If the foreign body has made it to the colon, it’s likely to pass – however, there’s still the possibility that it will be painful, especially if it is sharp (like a stick). In cases like this, you might need veterinary assistance. It is important to follow this rule: never pull a foreign object that is protruding from your pet’s rectum! If still lodged inside, this can cause damage to the internal tissues.

If you happen to watch half of a football disappear down your dog’s gullet, watch for these common symptoms to determine whether you need to seek veterinary attention:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal tenderness or pain
  • Lack of appetite; anorexia
  • Straining to defecate; constipation
  • Lethargy
  • Behavioral changes such as biting or growling when picked up

If a foreign body blockage is suspected, x-rays will be used to confirm the diagnosis. Often, several x-rays will be needed using contrast material (dyes) to locate

Related symptoms: 

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