Foreign Body

Over the years I have surgically removed several foreign objects from pets. Even though I make jokes about how “civilized” cats are as they do not participate in eating disgusting items like poop, they do play with household items which leads to trouble. As I can recall, I have removed a braided/rope rug, rib bones, a plastic “squeaky” from a toy, panty hose (with panties), wood chips, chicken bones, rocks, and socks from dogs that became ill. From cats, I have removed needles with thread (3 different cats), a plastic door stopper tip, a dime, and a plastic tire from a child’s toy. Doing surgery to remove foreign objects from animals requires patience, canceling of all plans (this usually happens on a weekend), a lot of surgical supplies and LUCK. You really never know what you are going to find entering a surgery like this because the pets refuse, absolutely refuse, to tell anyone WHEN they actually ate the object that is now causing them to have severe vomiting , diarrhea and dehydration. Survival from one of these surgeries depends on how long the object has been inside the animal. In some cases, if the damage has been going on for more than two to three days, part of the bowel may need to come out with the object. In the case of removing the squeaky, I knew it was just one large item to go in and find and although it was a large dog and surgery took a while, it was just one place that the intestine needed to be ‘opened” to remove the item making recovery time shorter and having a decreased risk of infection.

The dog that ate the rope/braided rug required 6 hours of surgery on a Saturday in a nine year old dog that I was sure wasn’t going to survive because I had to cut into the bowel and stomach 7 times because the ropy braids were all tangled up through the animal’s intestinal system. The owner was a kind older gentleman and he gave me his blessings to do what I needed to do to save his companion. There were a few times throughout the surgery that I had to completely remove part of the intestine and would have my assistant call the owner and ask if he was sure he wanted me to continue…He did. The dog not only lived, but went on to survive a second lengthy surgery 8 months later to remove parts of leather shoes and shoelaces from the dog’s stomach and upper intestine. Of course, animals will eat things they find around the house and in most cases, things pass naturally but one thing to keep in mind is to NEVER give your dog chicken or rib bones. One pet I performed surgery on to remove rib bones did not survive. The bone shards were sharp and had pierced the intestine to break open and leak into the abdomen. We did what we could, but infection was severe and the pet was euthanized a couple of days after surgery. It had been several days since the dog was allowed to have the bones, and the owner was unsure if the dog was eating normally because he shared a bowl with the other dog. It wasn’t until the dog was having liquid diarrhea and was very weak that the owners realized there was a problem. Dogs in the wild are accustomed to eating bones, but our domesticated canines that eat dry, formulated, small pieces of kibble or meat and gravy from a can are not able to tolerate bones and once the bones are chewed into splintery pieces, damage to the intestine can be significant. No bones about it…bones are bad for your dog. If you simply must give your dog some of what you eat, stay with vegetables, boiled rice, pasta, eggs, or potatoes. Summer time is cook out time. Be sure to tell your friends and neighbors not to give your dog bones from the grill. If you think your dog has eaten bones, keep a close watch for three to four days. Symptoms to look for are lethargy, diarrhea and loss of appetite. Vomiting may occur in these cases but is not a common symptom unless there is an obstruction in the stomach. The fourth of July is coming up. Be prepared to protect your dog from ingesting bones during your barbeque celebration.

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