Jack is a five-year-old Labrador retriever who came into Bothell Pet Hospital this past month for vomiting and loss of appetite. On physical exam he was depressed and very dehydrated. Palpation of his abdomen revealed a firm round “mass”. Radiographs were taken, and the cause of Jack’s discomfort was immediately identified.
Generally, in evaluating x-rays, dense material (i.e. bone) appears white, whereas light material (i.e. air in the lungs) shows as black on the film. Notice the very white object in his mid abdomen. Jack ate a rock and it was stuck in his intestines!
Such a foreign body can be a critical medical condition, as the blockage can interfere with blood supply and ultimately cause dying-off of the surrounding tissue. Because the rock was too large to pass, Jack was taken to surgery for an abdominal exploratory and intestinal surgery to remove the three inch diameter rock. Fortunately, everything in the surgery appeared healthy and Jack had an uneventful recovery. By the next day, his attitude was greatly improved and he was eating eagerly.
Dogs can eat the strangest things! We have removed clothing, hairbands, balls, corn cobs, and many other seemingly unpalatable objects from dogs’ and cats’ digestive tracts. The medical term for eating non-food items is pica, and often it becomes a compulsive behavior. If your pet has a tendency to ingest abnormal objects try hard to discourage this – we do not want him to be our next surgical patient!