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Common Signs Your Pet Ingested a Foreign Object

By March 15, 2024Pet Emergency
Signs a pet invested a foreign object. Dog in pain lying down at emergency vet office

As a pet owner, you’ve likely returned home at some point to find signs that your pet was mischievous while you were away – tipped-over trash cash, an open cabinet door, or a bite-size chunk or two missing from your favorite house plant. So, you put on your investigator hat and do your best to assess the clues and recreate what may have happened. For the safety of your beloved pet, it’s important to quickly know if your pet has mistakenly ingested a foreign object – a potentially serious, and sometimes life-threatening, circumstance.

What Are Common Objects Swallowed By Pets?

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), some common categories of materials ingested by pets include: 

  • Prescription medication
  • Household items (including socks!)
  • Cleaning products
  • Household plants
  • Harmful food/chocolate

While you may give your best effort to secure these things away from your furry friends, a rambunctious pet can be persistent and curious, finding a way to access these potentially dangerous items. 

What Do I Look For? 

Though determining if your pet has ingested a foreign object can be a nerve-wracking process, thankfully there are quite a few observable clues to help. 

Behavioral responses:

  • A guilty look or hiding
  • Groaning & restlessness
  • Vocalizing when touched

Physical responses: 

  • Lip-licking or drooling
  • Reduced or no appetite
  • Dehydration or refusal to drink water
  • Vomiting or diarrhea 
  • Bowel movement troubles – a sign of a blockage

What If My Pet Has Ingested A Foreign Object?

If you suspect your pet has ingested a foreign object, it’s imperative that you avoid waiting hours or days for more symptoms to arise and act fast, getting them to a veterinary professional, within 24 hours. 

For the first few hours, an object remains in your pet’s stomach before being transported into its small intestine. This critical period is the safest time to locate an object and remove it via surgery or induced vomiting. 

If the object moves into the small intestine, it can potentially block the movement of food into the intestine, causing greater harm to your pet.

It’s also important to know that in the event you have multiple pets, and more than one is exhibiting these symptoms (or your culprit is unclear), the safest plan is to bring all your pets to the emergency vet to be examined at the same time. 

At CVETS, we are here for your pet emergencies! You can rest assured that if you suspect your pet has ingested a foreign object, swiftly diagnosing and treating your furry friend’s issue is our top priority. Call or visit one of our Columbia, South Carolina Emergency Vet and Surgery locations any time a pet crisis arises!