My dog ​​has swallowed an object: what to do?

What exactly are the risks if your dog has eaten an indigestible object and how to react if necessary?

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What are the risks?

It's quite common for dogs to swallow things they shouldn't. The dogs most likely to do this are puppies, dogs that have an exacerbated and/or unsatisfied chewing activity or that suffer from an eating disorder called pica.

In the event of ingestion of a foreign body, the risk obviously depends on the nature of the foreign body swallowed: whether it is small or large, whether it is digestible or not, soft or hard, with edges sharp or smooth.

While some objects may be small enough to swallow and pass through the digestive tract without too much consequence, others may get stuck or cause significant damage to the trachea, mouth, stomach. dog's esophagus, stomach or intestines.

In addition to the risk of occlusion or perforation, certain objects pose a risk of poisoning to the dog. This is the case, for example, of batteries, chewing gum containing xylitol or even the pits of certain fruits.

Here is a summary table of everyday objects that dogs can swallow and the damage they are most likely to cause:

ObjectPieces of dog toys, tennis ballsBatteriesOsFood packaging (aluminum, flexible plastic)Fruit kernelsChewing gumPencils, pensHard plasticSocks or clothPebblesTampons, sanitary napkinsMedicationNails, screws, small metal objects
Choking hazardPoisoning riskRisk of perforation/ digestive injuryRisk of digestive obstruction
yesyes, if they contain a toxic almondyes
yesyes, if they contain xylitolyes

What to do if your dog has swallowed something?

If you know or suspect your dog has swallowed an object, call your vet immediately and get him to the vet as soon as possible. Any breathing difficulty or sudden onset of coughing in your pet is an emergency and should also be attended to immediately. If the dog is choking, also check that there are no foreign objects in its mouth.

If you can see the object, you may attempt to remove it only if you can do so very easily without injuring yourself. If an object is lodged too deep in the dog's throat, do not attempt to remove it. You will need to take your dog to the vet immediately to be sedated so the item can be safely removed.

If you see a string, string or other form of cord hanging from the dog's mouth, do not pull or cut it. You could injure his throat or esophagus.

Similarly, do not induce vomiting in your dog on your own without talking to a veterinarian first. If the swallowed object is toxic or if its edges are sharp, the damage may be even greater in the event of vomiting.

The veterinarian will begin by performing a physical examination and may perform an X-ray, ultrasound or gastroscopy to determine the nature of the object if it is unknown, its location within the digestive tract and the presence of any associated lesions.Depending on his observations, the veterinarian may choose to remove the foreign body by endoscopy or by surgery. If the swallowed object is soft and has no sharp edge and has been ingested recently, the veterinarian may induce vomiting using injections to force the dog to expel the foreign body.

How to prevent foreign body ingestion?

Although it is almost impossible to prevent all accidents, here are some preventive measures that you can take on a daily basis to limit the risk of your dog ingesting foreign bodies:

  • Always keep your dog under supervision when chewing on toys or treats.
  • Avoid keeping dog chew toys that are too worn or too fragile, which could be swallowed whole or which could break into small fragments.
  • Don't leave socks or underwear lying around.
  • Do not let your dog play with fruit pits or nuts in the garden or at home. If you give your dog fruit to eat, remember to remove the pits first.
  • If your dog tends to eat everything and anything at home and puts himself in danger, secure him by positively accustoming him to staying in an indoor doghouse in your absence. Nevertheless, look for the causes of this behavior to remedy it with the help of a canine behavior professional.
  • If your dog seems to suffer from pica (compulsive and repeated ingestion of inedible objects), consult a veterinary behaviorist.

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