Cats and Dogs can have gastrointestinal [stomach and intestines] foreign bodies. Gastric [stomach] foreign body is anything ingested by your pet that can not be digested or that is slowly digested. Intestinal foreign bodies are ingested objects that may cause a complete or partial obstruction. Symptoms include vomiting, not eating and depression or sometimes there are no symptoms. Small, blunt objects may pass but foreign bodies should be removed when found to decrease the risk of obstruction and perforation [hole in intestine]. Young animals more commonly ingest foreign bodies.
Examples of foreign bodies include: socks, underwear, nylons, tennis balls, toys, rubber bands / hair ties, rugs, corn cobs, tinsel, needles and thread, rawhides, bones, coins, fish hooks, rocks, tampons, plastic bags, peach pits, pine nuts, etc. The list can be endless.
My personal story reveals how easy it can happen and usually at the worst time. On Thanksgiving, my labrador retriever took a Cornish hen with skewers off the stove in about 2 seconds. He then proceeded to swallow it whole even with strong verbal reprimands. I was able to grab one skewer but the other one ended up in his stomach. Needless to say, he had an emergency surgery to remove the skewer on a major holiday. His recovery was uneventful but he wondered what happened to his tasty meal!
Early diagnosis with prompt surgical removal is necessary to prevent complications. Please consult with your primary care doctor as soon as possible if you suspect your pet has ingested something they should not have.
-Lesley Phillips, DVM