Dachshund puppy plays with shoe outside in grassPicture this. You’ve just arrived home, but before you can even put your bags down and kick off your shoes, you notice something isn’t right. Your pet’s face shows an indescribable expression (worry, paired with shame, guilt, or pain?) and then you see it…The pile on the floor resembles new cross-trainers, but the tattered, drastically shortened shoe lace nearby takes the situation from exasperating to potentially life-threatening.

Never fun, and often dangerous, gastrointestinal obstructions in pets happen when objects are consumed that cannot be properly digested. However, you can protect your pet (and avoid a pet emergency) with these tips from The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital.

Hard to Believe

Rawhides and bones can lead to gastrointestinal obstructions in pets, but so can items you would never expect your pet to consume. Items like clothing, children’s toys, towels, stuffed animals, balls, ribbons, string, hair ties, and even sticks and rocks round out the list.

We don’t know why some animals do this, but gastrointestinal obstructions in pets can result from boredom, anxiety, or simple curiosity. If you repeatedly watch your pet attempting to eat strange items, we encourage you to call us, as this may indicate an underlying illness.

Symptoms of Gastrointestinal Obstructions in Pets

If you observe your pet eating something strange, please do not delay in seeking care. If you catch this early, vomiting may be induced, potentially saving your pet from a more serious condition.

Objects that cannot be digested get lodged in the esophagus, stomach, or intestines, preventing food from moving through the GI tract. Gastrointestinal obstructions in pets are characterized by:

  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Inappetance
  • Ineffective or painful defecation
  • Dark or tarry stool
  • Lethargy
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Hiding
  • Biting at abdominal area

Diagnosis and Treatment

Diagnosing gastrointestinal obstructions in pets is made easier with digital x-rays or ultrasound. Depending on what your pet consumed, we may proceed with medication, monitoring, endoscopy, or surgery.

No Doubt About It

It’s obvious that a gastrointestinal obstruction in a pet is just about as perilous as it would be for us, leading pet owners to strive toward excellent pet-proofing at home. Just as you would store chemicals to prevent a pet poisoning, the pet experts recommend keeping tempting objects off the floor and behind closed doors, if possible. It’s also important to provide safe toys (ones that aren’t too small for your pet and made of durable materials) and store when not in use.

If you need more information on gastrointestinal obstructions in pets, or have any questions, please call The Pet Experts at Wheaton Animal Hospital. We are here for you!