Chow Hounds and Curious Kitties: GI Obstructions in Pets

Chow Hounds and Curious Kitties: GI Obstructions in Pets

JLabrador dog laying on a grey rug looking upust like babies, our pets tend to explore the world with their mouths, especially puppies. No wonder one of the most useful commands to teach your dog is “drop it!”

However, besides ruining an expensive pair of Jimmy Choo’s, gastrointestinal (GI) obstructions in pets can also lead to an emergency situation.

Why Do They Do It?

It may baffle us as to us why our pets insist on ingesting strange items,yet GI emergencies are common. While there’s no one reason, obstructions in pets is often the outcome of illness, boredom, anxiety, or youth.  

An ill pet may choose to eat something out of the ordinary to relieve pain – especially stomach pain or nausea. Pets who suffer from isolation, boredom, or behavioral problems also tend to chew on or eat inappropriate items. As for young pets, many parents of puppies know their curiosity often compels them to investigate the taste of everything.

If your adult pet is feasting on strange items, it’s important to have him or her seen, as this may be indicative of underlying illness.

Symptoms and Diagnosis of GI Obstructions in Pets

Whether the obstruction is string (common in cats), bone fragment, plastic, a small toy, or another item, a blockage can occur in your pet’s esophagus, stomach, or intestines. As a result, food is unable to pass through the digestive system.

Clinical symptoms of obstructions in pets include:

  • Vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Straining to defecate
  • Tar-like, dark stool
  • Lethargy
  • Biting at abdomen
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness or malaise
  • Hiding (particularly true of cats)

To diagnose a GI obstruction, x-rays are typically ordered to look for any foreign objects. An ultrasound may be used if radiographs are inconclusive or to better view the soft tissues and organs of the body.

Although some smaller objects may naturally pass through the body with the help of medication and monitoring, it really depends on the cause of the obstruction and the severity of the blockage. Based on diagnostics and a physical exam, endoscopy or surgery may be required.

Ways to Prevent an Emergency

When it comes to cats and dogs, we must approach safety the same way we would with a toddler. Pet-proofing the home is a must for anyone with an animal companion.

Pet-proofing is essentially going through your home with a critical eye for any and all things that could harm your pet. This includes medications left on a nightstand, toxic chemicals on a low shelf, small toys, string, electrical cords, etc.

When in doubt, it’s safe to assume questionable objects should be stashed out of your pet’s reach. Dogs and small puppies are notorious for trying to consume everything in their path.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something harmful, it’s important to respond quickly. The longer you wait to have your pet examined, the more severe (and costly) the situation can become.

Please call the team at Schertz Animal Hospital for more information or to schedule an appointment.

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Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!