Ingested Foreign Body Removal in Dogs

Ingested Foreign Body Removal in Dogs - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention
9 Veterinary Answers

Prepare for unexpected vet bills

Ingested Foreign Body Removal in Dogs - Conditions Treated, Procedure, Efficacy, Recovery, Cost, Considerations, Prevention

Prepare for unexpected vet bills

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What is Ingested Foreign Body Removal?

An ingested foreign body can cause a number of symptoms and complications in dogs, from simple nausea to a dangerous internal injury or intestinal obstruction. In cases which an object or foreign body is not passed or expelled naturally, it may be necessary to have a veterinarian remove the object manually to prevent serious illness, injury, toxicity, or infection.

The method used to remove a foreign body will depend on the nature and location of the object. In some cases, materials can be removed easily from a dog’s mouth, while a scope or open surgery may be needed in more serious cases when objects have traveled farther down the digestive tract. These procedures are commonly performed by veterinarians in general practice, though a referral to a specialist may be needed for some surgeries and procedures.

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Ingested Foreign Body Removal Procedure in Dogs

The procedure used for foreign body removal in dogs will depend on the nature and location of the obstruction. In most cases, a veterinarian will assess the dog’s condition with X-rays or other imaging scans to determine the safest and most effective approach. Blood, urine, and stool tests may also be conducted to identify related complications or conditions and to determine whether the dog is fit for anesthesia, which is required for many methods of foreign body removal. 

Endoscopic Retrieval

Endoscopic retrieval is a minimally invasive procedure that can be used to retrieve many materials from the upper digestive tract (esophagus, and stomach). Ideally, the patient should fast for several hours before the procedure, but in emergency cases, the veterinarian may perform a stomach lavage to clear the stomach contents before proceeding.

  • The dog will receive general anesthesia and be positioned for the procedure.
  • A flexible endoscope, fitted with a camera and appropriate tools, will be inserted through the mouth and advanced through the esophagus to visualize the trapped item and the condition of the digestive tract. 
  • The foreign body will be grasped and withdrawn using endoscopic instruments.
  • The endoscope will be withdrawn and the dog allowed to recover from anesthesia.

Surgical Removal

Surgical removal is typically required if a foreign object is lodged within the intestines, or if it cannot be safely removed from the esophagus or stomach with endoscopy. Open surgery is invasive and requires general anesthesia in all cases. 

  • The dog will be anesthetized, positioned, shaved, and cleaned for surgery.
  • An incision will be made in the chest or abdomen as required (thoracotomy or laparotomy)
  • The surgeon will access the esophagus, stomach, or intestine as needed via esophagotomy, gastrotomy, or enterotomy 
  • The foreign body will be removed, the site examined for trauma, and surgical repair made as necessary.
  • Incisions will be closed and the patient allowed to recover from anesthesia.
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Efficacy of Ingested Foreign Body Removal in Dogs

Foreign body removal is commonly performed on dogs, and both endoscopic and surgical techniques are highly effective at preventing complications that may occur if an indigestible object or material is left within a dog’s gastrointestinal tract. Failure to remove an ingested foreign object can lead to serious and life-threatening complications, making the procedure necessary in cases which a dog will not pass or digest material safely.

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Ingested Foreign Body Removal Recovery in Dogs

Recovery from endoscopic retrieval of a foreign body is generally uneventful. Once the effects of anesthesia and discomfort caused by the procedure and the foreign body have subsided, your dog should resume its normal level of activity quickly.

Recovering from open surgery, however, is more complex and may take several weeks. Your dog will require rest and may be prescribed medication to treat pain and prevent infection. A follow-up visit will be needed after about two weeks to remove sutures or staples and to check progress and healing. 

Depending on the presence and severity of internal injuries caused by the foreign body,  your vet may have other specific recommendations for your dog’s activity, diet, or other care to promote complete healing.

Complications such as peritonitis or wound break down are possible and need to be closely monitored for.

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Cost of Ingested Foreign Body Removal in Dogs

The cost of foreign body removal in dogs depends largely on the type of anesthesia and procedure needed to provide effective treatment. Endoscopic procedures commonly cost between $800 and $2,800, while open surgery, such as laparotomy, may range from $2,000 to $3,500.

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Dog Ingested Foreign Body Removal Considerations

In general, the benefits of foreign body removal clearly outweigh the costs and, in many cases, the treatment is lifesaving. Concerns that commonly arise include the risk of complications from anesthesia, internal injury from the procedure, and infection at a surgical site. These risks can be mitigated with prompt and thorough screening and treatment, as well as proper aftercare upon returning home with your dog. Remember, the sooner a foreign body is removed, the better the prognosis.

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Ingested Foreign Body Removal Prevention in Dogs

The ingestion of foreign bodies can be prevented by ensuring your dog has a safe living and play environment, free of objects and materials that could be harmful if chewed or swallowed. Monitor your dog to keep it from chewing on or playing with inappropriate items, such as children’s toys, string, rocks, and even dog toys that break down easily. Be sure to feed your dog a complete diet in appropriate amounts to prevent nutritional deficiencies, and notify your vet if your dog shows signs of pica-- intentionally eating unusual or non-food items-- which could be a sign of an underlying health condition. It is best to avoid giving your dogs things that can cause obstructions such as bones, corn cobs and pitted fruit. Consider using a basket muzzle when walking outdoors if your dog is a known scavenger.

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Ingested Foreign Body Removal Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Betty

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American Eskimo

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4 Years

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Moderate severity

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1 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Coughing
Hacking

My mini american eskimo Betty had a piece of bully stick retrieved via endoscopy out of her lower esophagus. This was 4 days ago, and today after chowing down soft food along with her meds she has started to cough & hack again. She hadnt really until now. Is her throat still irritated?

Aug. 21, 2018

Betty's Owner

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1 Recommendations

It is possible that there may be still some irritation from the object removed and from the endoscopy, keep an eye on Betty for the time being but if the hacking gets worse or you notice any other concerning symptoms you should visit a Veterinarian to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Aug. 21, 2018

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Cocoa

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terrier

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3 Years

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Moderate severity

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0 found helpful

pill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filledpill-rating-filled

Moderate severity

Has Symptoms

Vomiting

Our dog ate a plastic squeaker from a stuffed toy. The next day she threw up what looked like a good portion of the chewed squeaker and then pooped out more of it. We thought everything was fine until she started to throw up every time she ate anything solid. She would either throw up on her own or go outside to eat grass and make herself throw up. The vet took x-rays and saw nothing in her intestines but something dark in her stomach. He asked us to not feed her for 12 hours and bring her back to x-ray again. We did, and the dark area was in the same spot in her stomach. He felt there was an obstruction in there. Liquids passed with no problem only solid food would come up. After the surgery, he found no foreign object in her stomach but just a lot of inflammation in that area along with inflammation at the beginning of her small intestine and her pancreas was inflamed. (pancreatitis). We are now at almost 48 hours after surgery and she is eating very little. (about four small pieces of chicken). She is drinking well and walking around but not really eating. The vet keeps mentioning gut motility and I'm just worried. If there was no obstruction, what has changed that will now stop her from vomiting when she eats anything solid? He has her on a strong anti-nausea med and gut motility med, along with pain meds. What time frame should we expect to see her intestines start to move things along? If she's really not eating, I can't imagine she would need to have a bowel movement? Thank you for your professional advice. Also, should I get a second opinion?

July 26, 2018

Cocoa's Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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0 Recommendations

It is not uncommon to have an exploratory surgery where there isn't a foreign body, to make you feel better. If she is being treated for her pancreatitis and motility, those things should help with her vomiting, and the motility problem may have been caused by inflammation and pancreatitis. I would think within about 72 hours things should start to move again, although it is difficult to say without knowing what medication she is on. If her appetite is down, she may not have a normal bowel movement for awhile, it is true. If you aren't sure if she is okay, it is always okay to have a recheck with your veterinarian, or a second opinion from another veterinarian.

July 26, 2018

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