What can you do if the dog has swallowed an object?
It often happens that dogs swallow a foreign object. They explore the world with their mouths. They pick up an object, bite it and swallow it. But even while playing it sometimes happens that something is swallowed. In some cases the object is stuck in the mouth, sometimes in the esophagus. Is the object in the stomach? Then it can stay there for weeks without causing any complaints. When the object enters the intestine, it can cause a blockage. The dog gets sick and needs help quickly. Don’t wait, contact a vet immediately!
Swallowing foreign objects
Dogs explore the world with their mouths. They take items they come across. These can be pieces of plastic, but also: balls, socks, washcloths, stones, acorns, pine cones and bones. Often things go well and the object comes out with the stool. If it doesn’t go well, the dog can get sick and a visit to the vet is necessary.
Where is the object?
Sometimes the object is stuck in the mouth, between the jaws or the molars. Sharp objects such as sticks, needles or bones with sharp points get stuck in the mucous membrane, causing saliva, bleeding and pain. The dog will also smell from its mouth.
When swallowed, the object can get stuck in the esophagus. This is most common in places where the esophagus is narrower. It is then immediately stuck behind the throat, above the heart or just in front of the stomach. The object can damage the tissue of the esophagus. Sometimes it enters the lungs where it blocks the trachea. Then a life-threatening situation arises.
The stomach is wider. If the object ends up in the stomach, it does not pose any immediate danger. It can stay here for weeks. The risk of complaints increases when leaving the stomach.
From the stomach, the object passes through the duodenum to the small intestine. There is an increased chance that the object will get stuck where the small intestine meets the colon. The object is pushed forward by the peristaltic movements of the intestine. If it remains stuck, a partial or complete closure of the bowel occurs. The digestion no longer works properly and the dog vomits the food again. This is already half digested and smells like faeces. The stuck object causes damage to the intestinal tissue. This will ignite and can die. The dog develops a fever and must be helped by a veterinarian as soon as possible. He removes the object by operating on the dog.
Symptoms that occur after the dog swallows an object
After swallowing it may take a few hours to weeks for symptoms to develop. The size and shape of the object partly determine the severity of the complaints. Elongated objects get stuck more often and cause more complaints than round objects. The chance of a fatal outcome is the same in both cases.
Symptoms that can occur are:
- Stomach ache
- Apathy (lack of emotions)
- Decreased consciousness
- Decreased appetite
What can you do yourself?
If the object is small and the dog is not going to behave differently, you can wait. Do not feed the dog, including gingerbread! It is said that a dog should eat gingerbread after swallowing an object. Gingerbread would envelop the object allowing the dog to defecate without any problem. There is no scientific evidence for this and veterinarians do not recommend it. If a dog is to be operated on, the animal must be sober. (if possible)
With objects that are not sharp, it is possible to make the dog vomit. Soft plastic hardens in the stomach, so outbreaks are better. This is possible with balls, magnets and toy animals. Do not induce vomiting with salt. Salt poisoning can develop. In the worst case, it can be fatal. It is better to contact the vet, who can give an injection to induce vomiting.
Objects stuck in the mouth
Is the object stuck in the mouth? Try to loosen it gently. Reassure the dog at the same time. If the object doesn’t come off, the vet can remove it.
Endoscopy is a visual examination in which the vet can look into the esophagus, stomach and intestines. The doctor uses an endoscope for this. This is a long hose with a small light, small camera and a pair of scissors on the end. The tube enters the stomach through the mouth and esophagus. Large, sharp objects that cannot pass through the gastrointestinal tract, such as skewers, fish hooks, batteries and magnets, become visible, after which they are removed from the stomach with the endoscope.
Surgery is necessary if the object is stuck in the esophagus, or causes a blockage in the intestines. But also if the dog has swallowed several objects and if the object is large and sharp.
What should you do if the dog has complaints?
In this case, waiting is no longer an option, call a vet right away! Make sure the dog moves as little as possible. A sharp object can damage the tissues in the body. Lift the dog just behind the front legs and just in front of the back legs so that you don’t touch the organs. Only do this for transport to a vet.
When an object protrudes through the tissues, a hole is created. This is called perforation. The contents of the organ leaks into the abdominal cavity. This can cause a shock where the body temperature drops quickly, the mucous membranes pale and the dog becomes lethargic. Emergency surgery follows, during which the organ is repaired. The vet also cleans the abdominal cavity well.