The following is a list of items we’ve surgically removed from our beloved, but foolish pets.
- Monsieur Acorn
- Nerf Ball
- Rope Toys
- Hair Elastics
- A Fancy Potato
- A Piece of Poop (someone else’s poop that got stuck)
- Corn on the Cob
- A Variety of Assorted Underwear
- Tampons (highest count of 5 in one dog)
- Coco (see attached photo)
- Electrical/Phone Cords
What happens when Rover eats something that can’t quite make it out the other side? Often, the first sign is vomiting. It’s like when something clogs up a pipe or a toilet, there’s no place for stuff to flow through. So even if they’re still eating, it’ll go down but then run into a roadblock where the only option is to come right back up. Everything after the obstruction is still pretty normal, so Rover may have a normal poop to start, then maybe a little diarrhea cause there won’t be much left to push out, and then, nothing. Eventually, with all the vomiting and nausea, dehydration will be inevitable along with a decreased appetite. Soon they won’t even be tempted by the free munchkins in the Dunkin’s drive-through. The vomit may also change, it may go from food to yellow bile, to a dark brown that could be confused as diarrhea and with a smell so vile you’ll be looking for a gas mask.
So what to do now? Radiographs (x-rays) are a good first start, sometimes you’ll get lucky and see the foreign material but usually, it’ll just look like 50 shades of gray (just the color gray, none of that stuff from the books). If it looks like potentially a partial obstruction where maybe a tiny amount of fluid may be able to squeak by, sometimes getting them rehydrated with fluids can help it slither on out the other end. If it’s truly stuck though, surgery is really the only option. If the foreign material is stuck in the intestines for too long, it can damage the tissue leading to perforation. Perforation means stuff that’s supposed to stay inside the intestines leaks outside the intestines and that leads to sepsis which can lead to death.
Mack and Coco's x-ray.
Surgery can definitely cost a pretty penny and you should expect Rover to stay in the hospital for a couple of days. Most pets do well after surgery and have no long-lasting effects. They’ll need some medications, rest, a bland diet, and the cone of shame but are typically feeling much better 24-48 hours following surgery. Issues can arise with complications of unhealthy intestinal tissue or pancreatitis which can cause the incision into the intestines to break down leading to sepsis, which, as mentioned earlier, is bad. Multiple incidents of obstructions also lead to multiple surgeries which will increase the risk for adhesions. This is where the intestines become bunched and stuck to each other - this can cause an obstruction if it prevents the flow of food through the intestinal tract through adhesions are fairly uncommon.
If your pet is vomiting and you think they may have eaten something, call your vet. And please, don’t let them eat lots of grass as this can turn into an obstruction as well.