It can seem like our furry companions are always up to something. From chasing the laser dot across the room, to zoomies, or sniffing around that pile of who-knows-what. Sometimes their excitement overpowers their common sense, and they eat something they aren’t supposed to. These cases can be classified as foreign bodies (non-food objects that were eaten) or toxicities (foods or chemicals that can make our pets sick). Common foreign bodies include:

  • Toys (labeled pet safe or otherwise)
  • Coins or change
  • Corn cobs, peach pits, or other indigestible food
  • Cloth / Rope / Hair Ties
  • Rocks

Signs to watch for:

We will often catch our pets in the act, but not always. Even if you do see them swallowing something, how can you know if it’s going to be a problem or if it will pass? Watching for certain signs is always recommended. The signs will vary depending on the object, it’s size, location in the body, and degree of obstruction. However, signs your pet may show if they do have a foreign body can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Anorexia or loss of appetite

The potential for the stomach or intestine to bruise or tear dramatically increases the longer your pet is left untreated. If the foreign object sits too long and causes a tear in the digestive tract, it may lead to detrimental cases of peritonitis, sepsis, or death.


In many cases of foreign body ingestion, especially if the object is small and smooth enough to pass through the gastrointestinal tract safely, only supportive care will be needed. However, if the degree of obstruction is severe, it may require immediate surgery. Depending on the location of the foreign body within your pet, the following procedures may be necessary:

  • Thoracic surgery – located in the chest
  • Gastrotomy – located in the stomach
  • Enterotomy – located in the intestine


If your pet did need surgery, they will be at risk for peritonitis, sepsis, or other complications for several days afterwards. This is why it’s crucial to consistently monitor your pet’s vitals and behavior following the procedure to ensure they begin to eat properly, and return to full health. Usage of intravenous fluids and antibiotics may be used as needed to help support recovery.

Your pet’s health is extremely important to us at Animal Works Veterinary Surgery. If you suspect your pet has recently ingested something potentially dangerous, contact us to schedule an examination and get your furry companion the relief they need.

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