foreign bodies in petsThere’s no question about it: pets are curious, and they explore the world through their noses and mouths. Sure, a little sniff here and there may not necessarily result in a pet emergency, but it’s almost unheard of for a pet to eat something they shouldn’t have and suffer zero consequences. This potential scenario understandably leaves pet owners on edge, but foreign bodies in pets are common enough to warrant full-fledged pet-proofing.

Serious Business

The old adage “my dog ate my homework” may not excuse a student in this digital age, but pets still get into plenty of things we would never consider eating. Common foreign bodies in pets include:


  • Socks or shoes
  • Underwear
  • Balls
  • Ribbon, string, or floss
  • Small toys
  • Coins
  • Jewelry
  • Fruit pits
  • Rubber bands
  • Corn cobs
  • Towels
  • Carpet
  • Chewed off plastic pieces, rubber, foam, or even metal
  • Rocks
  • Mulch

The above list only represents a smattering of foreign bodies in pets. Truly, the scope of what they eat is only limited by our imaginations.

What to Do

Since basically anything can be tempting to your pet, pay very close attention to his or her behavior. If you notice him or her chewing on something, don’t assume it’s a toy or food. Watch carefully for any hiding or guarding of certain objects and intervene quickly.

It may take some behavioral training to lead your pet away from chewing on or eating objects that can result in gastrointestinal obstructions. We’re here to assist you towards this end; please let us know if you have questions or concerns.

Know or Suspect?

If you know your pet ate something dangerous, please call us immediately. Otherwise, if you notice vomiting, loss of appetite, difficulty defecating, or severe lethargy, it’s time to take action.

A Pass

Some foreign bodies can pass through the digestive system without incident. Otherwise, the following diagnostics may be necessary:

  • Digital radiographs and special radiographic studies
  • Blood work
  • Ultrasound

Once we gain insight into what’s going on, we can determine the next steps, including:

  • Induce vomiting – When the object is still in the stomach, we may try to induce vomiting.
  • Endoscopy – Using this relatively non-invasive method, we can try to retrieve whatever was swallowed with this small camera. The object would need to be in the esophagus, stomach, or small intestine. General anesthesia is required.
  • Exploratory laparoscopy – When foreign bodies in pets are lodged in the intestine, we may recommend this surgery to get them out. Sometimes, foreign bodies in pets result in removing part of the intestine if they’ve been in there too long.

Prevent Foreign Bodies in Pets

It happens to even the most scrutinizing, tidy, and responsible pet owners. All you can really do is keep potentially attractive items away from your pet or crate him or her while you’re out of the house.

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns related to foreign bodies in pets. We’re always here to help!