Foreign bodies in companion animals come in all shapes and sizes.
Some common offenders include socks, shoes, fish hooks, squeaky toys, bones, hair ties, string, corn cobs, sanitary products, hoses/water systems, marbles, pegs, and tennis balls.
Some breeds seem to be more frequent offenders with labradors, golden retrievers and bull terriers often over representing the dogs and siamese representing the cats.
The first signs can develop from hours to days after ingesting the object depending if it is a complete or partial obstruction. The first signs tend to be vomiting, lethargy and inappetance. On examination they may have a temperature, elevated heart rate and have abdomen pain.
Blood work may show elevations in muscle enzymes and a deficiency in body acids from vomiting. An X-ray may be diagnostic, however they can be inconclusive and repeat radiographs or an surgical exploration may be needed. Some foreign bodies may be able to pass with supportive care which may include an IV drip and medications for pain however, the vast majority require surgical removal.
If a foreign body is left untreated then intestinal perforation, severe infection and inflammation, sepsis, shock and death are likely to proceed. Patients with an unperforated foreign body tend to recover well. The longer the foreign body is left the more damage it is able to do. In severe cases some parts of the intestines may need to be removed.
Post surgery risks include surgical breakdown, infection, formation of a stricture and intestinal stasis, however, most patients that are treated early have an excellent outcome.
To decrease the risk for your pet be careful what toys you buy them, throw away old or broken toys, don't feed cooked or dried bones, dog/cat proof your house and yard and be careful what you leave lying around the house. If you're not sure and your pet is vomiting or attempting to vomit then seek prompt veterinary advice.