Recognizing And Treating Intestinal Blockage Due To Pica In Dogs

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There is a popular misconception about dogs that has even been portrayed in movies. This misconception is that it is normal for dogs, and especially pups, to chew, eat or swallow almost any object within their reach. As any dog owners should know, this is not necessarily true. In fact, eating non-edible items is known as pica and can be an indication of something happening with your dog, from a simple case of emulating another dog to a more serious medical condition, such as a brain lesion. 

However, despite the possible underlying reasons for your dog swallowing every unreasonable thing, from metal objects to rubber duckies and socks, here are a few things to expect if you have to take him or her to the vet to remove an inedible object.

Here's your sign

As creative as you may become in keeping small, non-edible things away from your dog, he or she is likely to become even more creative in finding said objects to eat, Since it is impossible to remove every stone, shoelace, stick or button from the reach of your dog, you might need to know what signs to look for in intestinal blockage. The most common signs include vomiting and abdominal pain. Depending on where the object finally rests in the digestive tract, these symptoms can start to show anywhere from a few minutes (if lodged in the esophagus) to up to 24 hours after ingesting the object.

Depending on the size of the dog and the type of object, it may be a while before any symptoms start to show. An example of this was seen in the case of the Great Dane who swallowed a total of 43 and a half socks before any vomiting actually started to occur. The point is to be alert to your dog's condition and comfort so that you can take action as soon as you see the signs.

The vet knows

While it may seem like a good idea to induce vomiting to get the item back up, it may be unsafe to do so without the guidance of a vet. This is because some items may be harder or more unsafe to regurgitate than to ingest, even if you know what the dog ate. In other cases the vet will have to do an ultrasound, which is a quicker procedure than an x-ray and gives results that are more easily interpreted. In an emergency situation, using a veterinary ultrasound machine may be the best bet in knowing what your dog ingested and where along the digestive tract it is located.

In many cases, whether the vet has to induce vomiting or has to perform surgery, an ultrasound will make it much easier to conduct, as the vet will not be doing so blindly. Of course at a cost of between $50 and $500 per procedure, you may wish you had simply been more insistent in teaching the "drop-it-and-leave-it" command.