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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Gastrointestinal Foreign Bodies

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Condition Overview

Dogs have been known to swallow bones, toys, sticks, stones, pins, needles, wood splinters, cloth, rubber balls, rawhide, leather, string, peach pits, and many other objects.

Symptoms

Unless it also causes indigestion, a swallowed foreign body will go unnoticed until it produces symptoms.

Causes

The esophagus of the dog is larger than the outlet of his stomach. Thus, dogs may swallow objects that are too large to pass out of the stomach. Gastric foreign bodies are therefore associated with chronic gastritis and episodes of gastric outflow obstruction.

If an object makes it into the small intestine, it may pass though the entire GI tract without causing problems. Those that do cause an obstruction usually do so at the ileocecal valve or in the colon and rectum. Foreign bodies in the rectum cause anorectal obstructions. Sharp objects such as pins, splinters, and bone chips can lodge anywhere in the GI tract and obstruct or perforate the bowel, causing intestinal obstruction or peritonitis.

Diagnosis

Many foreign bodies can be seen on X-rays of the abdomen.

Treatment

Foreign bodies that produce symptoms should be removed. This usually involves abdominal surgery. Gastric foreign bodies can sometimes be removed through an endoscope.

Prevention

Keep objects that a dog may try to swallow out of their reach. Be sure to buy the correct size toys for your particular dog.

Support

Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +

Sources

Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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