Digestive tract blockages in cats and dogs can be fatal
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.