For 25 years, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince has practiced as a board-certified veterinarian to small animals. Focused particularly on soft tissue surgical procedures, Dr. Joel Todd Leroy Prince draws on a detailed knowledge of gastrointestinal foreign bodies as a health risk to dogs.
A gastrointestinal foreign body is any object that a dog may consume that does not pass easily through the digestive tract. These objects may cause a number of problems, from toxicities within the system to inflammation and bacterial contamination. Although some foreign bodies will naturally pass before causing any such symptoms, many will become stuck.
Blockage causes food and bodily fluids to accumulate behind the trapped object. This in turn imposes pressure on the blood vessels, which cannot supply the digestive tract with sufficient nutrients. This causes death of the gastrointestinal tissue and may lead to a tear, which allows for the spill of gastrointestinal contents into the abdomen and can cause a life-threatening condition known as sepsis.
The most common symptom of a gastrointestinal foreign body is vomiting, which occurs as the stomach contracts in an attempt to expel the offending item. Dogs may also display abdominal discomfort, diarrhea or difficulty passing stool, and a general lack of energy. These symptoms typically prompt a veterinarian to order blood tests and scans to assess for the presence of a foreign body, which he or she is likely to then remove surgically.