Sweat bands, toddler toys, undergarments, strings, shoe laces, sweatshirt cords, ribbons, balls, a teaspoon, hair elastics, children’s toys, sewing needles, towels, cleaning cloths, carpets, socks, acorns, corn cobs, chicken bones…………..this list goes on and on. The above describes only some of the assortment of items we have removed from our patients over the past few years. Recently, for reasons unknown, we have seen a significant increase in the number of dogs and cats that have consumed what we refer to as foreign bodies. Though linear ones are the worst (strings, yarns, tights, threads and ribbons) all of the above can result in obstruction of some part of the digestive tract which if not caught early enough, can result in death in spite of surgical intervention. Why this rash of increase in foreign body cases? We can’t say for certain but it seems as if many of these pets come from young families who are leading the typical hectic life with work, children and multiple responsibilities. This past week alone we have seen three pets whose symptoms (vomiting, not eating, lethargy) suggested a foreign body illness. One of these patients, a friendly, beautiful one year old female puppy, died from multiple ruptures of her intestines as the result of consuming string and a long piece of cloth. These cases are frustrating for us because they can be difficult to diagnose, often are not presented by the owner until several days of damage has occurred, and can prove very costly for you the but not necessarily ending with a good result.
As the holiday season approaches, life only gets busier and busier. There are more potentially harmful objects found in the home. We are more distracted with paying attention to details other than what may be laying around. Vigilance, vigilance and vigilance are the key to reducing this recent epidemic. Kids that are old enough to understand should be cautioned about leaving anything out that could be harmful. If there are certain rooms in the house that are often cluttered with stuff (socks, sweatshirts, toys) make sure it is off limits to the family pet until it has been thoroughly picked up. Remember desktops, kitchen tables and counter tops are all accessible to both cats as well as dogs. Rest assured that your pets will find anything they can, no matter how hidden away they seem. The definition of the word “edible” to a dog or cat is basically “anything that fits between the upper and lower jaws”. A little bit of care and some basic retraining of ourselves and our families goes a long way in preventing this awful disease. Let’s make this holiday season one that we remember for a long time…..with only good memories. Happy Thanksgiving to all.