Obstructions – A Grim Reality

Of the many illnesses that can beset our furry friends, one of the scariest is an obstruction.  Perhaps its so scary because sometimes we have little control over what our dogs ingest.  It seems funny to say that – since we all pretty much watch what we give them, but unfortunately the strangest things can cause an obstruction and we all know that

Kids and dogs can be the best of friends but probably they shouldn’t share toys – kids’ toys can often have harmful edible parts dangerous to dogs

dogs and puppies can eat the strangest things.  We can be vigilant, watch what toys we give them, pick up after ourselves, make sure the garbage is far out of reach – do everything right – but sometimes it isn’t enough and honestly no fault of our own.  Other people toss things out that we don’t know about, a squeaker can come out of a toy without us even realizing it, a sock can fall to the wayside on our way to do laundry and we don’t even see it until its too late.

Any dog can become obstructed.  The key is to know the symptoms.   Also known as a “blockage”, they can occur in the stomach or the intestines.  If the blockage is higher up in the digestive tract, projectile vomiting can occur along with a loss of appetite, sluggishness, weight loss (from lack of eating).  Obstructions further down the digestive tract can also cause vomiting (though it will tend to be brown and smell like feces)  in addition to loss of appetite and sluggishness but generally you will also see a “bloating” of the abdomen where it becomes hard and tender as well as signs of abdominal pain and sometimes fever and shock.  With any type of blockage there can be diarrhea or constipation though a complete blockage will eventually result in constipation or painful elimination.  If you notice any of these symptoms you need to take your pup into the vet for a check up right away before more damage is done.

Are some dogs MORE at risk than other dogs?  Absolutely.  Those that eat strange things once are likely to eat them again thus dogs who have had once blockage are definitely a higher risk for a repeat performance.  It is also possible for dogs to develop scar tissue from a previous obstruction which can make it even harder for other items to pass making the possibility for a blockage more likely.  If you have a dog who thinks he can eat just about anything you can bet he will.

Things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of can be hazardous items for a dog.  Squeakers from stuffed toys can be deadly if they pull them out and swallow them so always keep an eye out for loose squeakers.  Children’s toys are simply “toys” to most dogs and can have dangerous parts that you wouldn’t find on toys meant for dogs.  Fabric, yarn and similar materials can be tempting to a dog and many will actually ingest them – watch for underwear and sock eaters especially, and keep laundry up high.  The garbage, as always, is full of inappropriate items.  Make sure that all cooked bones go to the outdoor trash rather than the indoor trash immediately after dinner.  The same goes for corncobs during sweet corn season.  Contrary to popular opinion these do NOT make good chew toys for dogs.  They are completely indigestible and represent a code red hazard for dogs.  What makes them even more dangerous is the ability of dogs to find them outdoors where people leave feed corn for squirrels and deer.  Scan your yard for corncobs as well as other trash that may have been carelessly tossed out by a neighbor or someone passing by.  If you let your

Cute as they are, puppies are some of the biggest offenders when it comes to eating inappropriate and potentially dangerous objects

dog roam loose this is yet ANOTHER reason to stop doing so.  Roaming dogs have an upcoming death sentence no matter how you slice it but this is just another facet that adds to that danger.  Sticks, stones, pinecones etc. can all be hazards.  Nature isn’t always kind and dogs aren’t always smart about what looks to be a good chew.

Its simply not possible to be perfect when it comes to things like this.  Items get left out, underwear misses the hamper and ends up on the bathroom floor, a kindly neighbor thinks that squirrels need some corn and the squirrels think your yard is a better place to eat it – the list goes on and on.  All we can do is be aware of the dangers and keep our wits about us and our eyes open.  Take as much care as possible and if you have any suspicion that your dog has ingested a harmful object don’t hesitate to make a trip to the vet.  Waiting can end up being deadly for your dog and devastating for you.