If you have a pet, then it is common sense to keep it from eating poisonous foods and drinking toxic liquids. However, one thing that many pet owners do not realize is that even if you take the utmost care in preventing your pet from ingesting harmful substances, an animal can still eat something that could cause a dangerous bowel obstruction. Bowel obstructions can be extremely expensive to deal with – at least $500 just for the diagnostics and tests alone, and an additional $500 – $1,000 for the surgery itself! Not to mention, all of the discomfort, pain, and sickness your poor pet will feel. The possibility of death is also in the equation if not dealt with quickly enough.
Any kind of object, whether it’s a coin, or a hairtie, or a piece of trash, can get stuck in your animal’s digestive tract and create a blockage. Let me repeat: ANYTHING that isn’t an organic compound can cause a blockage, even if you think that it is small and won’t cause a problem. Sure, your pet may “pass” it (poop it out) later, but if it doesn’t, they can be in big trouble. Once the object is hanging around in the intestine, it literally blocks the way for excrement to pass through little by little until it’s a full-on roadblock. You may think to yourself, “Well my animal doesn’t like to chew or put things in their mouth,” but how will you know that until it’s too late?
It is absolutely vital to ALWAYS pet-proof your home, and keep common areas tidy just in case your dog, cat, rabbit, bird, etc. decides to chew, eat, or swallow something that’s lying around. Even if you have never seen your pet actually chew, swallow, or put something in its mouth, you never know what could happen. Sheer boredom, stress, or a mistake could lead your pet to eat a button thinking it’s a treat, or some yarn thinking it’s a noodle. Don’t even leave furniture, items, or clothing out with toggles, buttons, jewels, clips, embellishments, etc. hanging out in plain view. Just because it’s attached to something doesn’t mean that it isn’t fair game!
How do you know that your pet has a possible bowel obstruction? Well, the most obvious sign is vomiting and/or dry heaving, due to your pet’s inability to defecate properly. More minor signs which could go unnoticed are lethargy, weakness, and dehydration. These signs may seem insignificant on their own, but combined together for a day or more could spell trouble. Dehydration can occur due to the pet vomiting its fluids and also inability to drink or eat due to the pain and sickness it feels. If your pet isn’t eating or drinking in general, it’s usually a bad sign – so definitely get them checked out if the symptoms persist for hours.
As stated before, the surgery involved to treat bowel obstructions is expensive and requires quite a bit of recovery for the animal. Not to mention, once your pet is fixed up and good as new, that doesn’t mean that they learned their lesson! To avoid possible slip-ups in the future, you must be extremely vigilant to not leave ANYTHING in the open that they could possibly swallow. In some cases, as with this cat who apparently has a death wish, there are repeat offenders who just cannot stop themselves from swallowing anything and everything!
For more information on bowel obstructions and how they are treated and diagnosed, check out this petMD link! As long as you exercise common sense, general safety and supervision of your pets, and basic cleanliness/organizational skills, you should be fine! If you do suspect that your animal has an intestinal blockage of any sort, seek immediate veterinary attention and have them do an x-ray to assess the situation!