Di­ges­tive tract block­ages in cats and dogs can be fa­tal

Talk of the Town - - Serendipity - ... with Dr Ta­fara Ma­pu­vire

DOGS and cats may in­gest an ob­ject that can end up block­ing the stom­ach or the in­tes­tine (guts).

This is known as a gas­troin­testi­nal for­eign body. Sur­gi­cal re­moval is usu­ally re­quired to pre­vent pos­si­ble block­age or per­fo­ra­tion of the di­ges­tive tract, which might lead to an over­whelm­ing in­fec­tion (peri­toni­tis), and death.

Clin­i­cal signs are vari­able and can range from no signs at all, to signs of shock and de­pres­sion due to ob­struc­tion of the in­tes­tine or stom­ach, or even in­testi­nal per­fo­ra­tion and sub­se­quent peri­toni­tis.

Symp­toms that may be shown by a dog or cat fol­low­ing in­ges­tion of a for­eign ob­ject in­clude nau­sea, re­peated vom­it­ing, loss of ap­petite, de­pres­sion and lethargy. Vom­it­ing is the most com­mon clin­i­cal sign.

If the for­eign ob­ject can­not pass into the in­tes­tine, it can re­main in the stom­ach for a long pe­riod caus­ing chronic ir­ri­ta­tion and vom­it­ing.

Many for­eign bod­ies en­ter the small in­tes­tine and the symp­toms may re­sem­ble those of gas­troen­teri­tis such as vom­it­ing and di­ar­rhoea.

They of­ten cause ir­ri­ta­tion and par­tial ob­struc­tion of the di­ges­tive tract. If com­plete block­age oc­curs in the in­tes­tine, an ur­gent sit­u­a­tion de­vel­ops as the sur­round­ing in­tes­tine dies off, and the an­i­mal’s con­di­tion may de­te­ri­o­rate rapidly.

This can hap­pen within hours of in­gest­ing a for­eign ob­ject.

Vom­it­ing can be­come per­sis­tent, and a very painful ab­domen usu­ally in­di­cates that the in­tes­tine has per­fo­rated.

If this oc­curs, the pet can col­lapse and die with­out ur­gent ve­teri­nary at­ten­tion.

Even if ve­teri­nary at­ten­tion is given at this late stage, the prog­no­sis (out­look) is poor. It is al­ways im­per­a­tive that ve­teri­nary care is sought as soon as pos­si­ble.

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