Help! My dog’s eaten a …

It’s embarrassing and it can be a bit of a nightmare! You put something down for a moment, or you forget to pick it up and before you know it your darling pooch has wolfed it down.

The variety of things dogs seem to find tasty is a never ending source of amazement for me- from obvious things like a whole 15kg bag of dog food or a bar of chocolate, to electronic items (batteries a favourite here), to garden fencing, I don’t think there’s much I haven’t heard about disappearing into the jaws of a hungry/ bored/ playful/ intellectually challenged dog.

The good news is that most of the time they seem to be fine! So long as it’s not toxic or poisonous (yes, they are different), intestinal obstructions are pretty rare… but they do happen.

To cause an obstruction an object has to form into a plug approximately the same size as the inside (“lumen”) of the intestine. Bits of rubber, rawhide chews and fabric items such as socks or underpants seem to be the most common culprits. However, narrower object that are long e.g. string can cause the intestines to accordion (“plicate”) and so cause a functional obstruction.

Plicated intestines

The signs of an obstruction

If you suspect your dog has eaten something that could potentially cause an obstruction, call the vet immediately. It may be that giving something to make them vomit will clear it. If however you notice your dog has the following signs, and a small child is missing a sock, then you might have an obstruction on your hands:

  • going off food
  • vomiting (especially after eating)
  • painful abdomen when squeezed
  • unable to pass a stool
  • depression

In this case you need to see a vet asap. An obstruction can cause part of the gut to die off which can be life threatening, even with surgery.

Sometimes signs can be a little vague- this might indicate a potential “partial” obstruction. Food can still get through, but back pressure is caused and normal movement of food through the intestines is affected.

If you’re ever concerned about an intestinal blockage, just give your vet a call- we’ll be more than happy to advise on your specific case.