gastric foreign body in dogs

Gastric (Stomach) Foreign Body in Dogs

Overview of Canine Gastric (Stomach) Foreign Body

Gastric foreign body is a term that refers to any material other than food that is eaten and that results in a serious digestive problem in the stomach. Foreign bodies such as toys, string, clothing and plastic can become lodged in the stomach and create an obstruction in dogs. Any household object your dog chews on can become a foreign body problem.

Dogs of any age are susceptible to developing foreign body problems but this is most commonly seen in young dogs less than two years of age. These youngsters are naturally curious, like to dig and chew and are more likely to chew on the wrong thing.

Although some smaller foreign bodies can pass through the gut without getting stuck, the larger pieces can result in serious gastrointestinal complications.

What to Watch For

Common signs of a gastric obstruction in dogs include:

Diagnosis of Gastic Foreign Body in Dogs

A complete and thorough medical history is important in diagnosing a gastric foreign body, including recent exposure or known chewing on foreign material. Physical exam findings can help your veterinarian determine the appropriate diagnostic tests. Test recommendations may include:

Treatment for Gastric Foreign Bodies in Dogs

Most dogs with a gastric foreign body obstruction have been vomiting or not eating for a period of time. This leads to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Your veterinarian will recommend hospitalization with intravenous fluids prior to anesthesia.

Once your dog is more stable, he will be anesthetized and the foreign object will be removed by one of two primary methods: endoscopy or surgery.

Home Care for Dogs with Gastric Foreign Body

Once the dog is able to eat and drink without vomiting, he is sent home.

For those dogs treated with endoscopy, there is minimal at home care. Feed a bland diet for two to three days and gradually return to a normal diet. Watch for not eating or vomiting.

For those dogs undergoing surgery, at home care includes incision care. Do not allow your dog to lick or chew at the sutures. An Elizabethan collar may be needed. Watch the incision for swelling or discharge. Sutures are generally removed in 7-10 days. Feed a bland diet for two to three days and gradually return to a normal diet. Watch for not eating or vomiting.

Preventative Care for Gastric Foreign Body in Dogs

The best way to prevent gastric foreign bodies is to prevent access to objects that could be swallowed. Allow your dog to only chew on toys that cannot be swallowed.

If you suspect that your dog may have ingested something that may not pass through his intestinal tract, contact your veterinarian. Waiting until your dog starts to vomit will make removal of the foreign material more difficult and costly.