Unusual Appetites: Foreign Body Ingestion in Pets


Like toddlers, pets have a tendency to chew anything they can get into their mouths. This becomes a serious and potentially life-threatening problem if the objects are swallowed. An animal ingesting a long string or ribbon can develop a linear foreign body which is even more dangerous.

Where Do “Foreign Bodies” Get Stuck?

The digestive tract is essentially a long tube, passing food from the mouth, down the esophagus, into the stomach, through the lengthy small intestine, then forming stool in the colon and out the rectum.

When objects are too large to pass, they usually obstruct at the stomach outflow or within the small intestine itself. With linear foreign bodies, the continual movement of the intestinal tract can literally bunch the intestines into an accordion-like mass.

If the foreign body has managed to move to the colon, it will probably successfully pass. But, defecating a sharp object may prove painful and may even need veterinary assistance. Never pull protruding objects from your pet’s rectum. If it is still lodged inside, you can cause serious damage to the internal tissues.

Symptoms of Foreign Body Ingestion

Animals with ingested foreign bodies generally do not feel well. They often stop eating and/or act depressed. Initially, some cases with intestinal foreign bodies may have diarrhea.

Most patients with digestive foreign bodies exhibit vomiting. If the object has not fully clogged the digestive tract, the vomiting may be intermittent. But with a complete blockage, the dog or cat will be unable to keep anything down, including liquids. The longer the blockage lasts, the more critical the animal’s condition becomes.


Keeping Your Pet Safe

Dogs and cats maintain no more than a toddler’s level of sense for their entire lives. Certainly some have a stronger tendency to swallow foreign objects, but all have the potential.

Monitor your pet’s habits. Especially with puppies and kittens, keep small swallowable items picked up and out of their way. Discuss with your veterinarian appropriately sized chew toys, considering ALL the pets in your home.  Never leave strings or ribbons within reach of your pets – especially cats.

If you suspect that your pet has swallowed a foreign body, call your veterinarian immediately. If your pet exhibits signs suspicious of foreign body ingestion, your veterinarian will guide you in the best diagnostic approach at the time.

The sooner your pet receives medical attention, the better his or her chances of full recovery with fewer complications.

According to research from VPI Pet Insurance, surgery to remove foreign objects from the stomach of a pet cost an average of $1,472; while surgical removal from the intestines was $1,910 on average.

While preventative measures are essential for pet safety, pets – and their appetites – are often unpredictable.  Establishing an emergency savings fund or having an emergency credit card for unexpected pet expenses can help alleviate financial worries during an emergency.  This will allow you to focus on the critical medical decisions your pet will need to you make for them.

Source: petinsurance.com

Veterinary Wisdom About Grief

The following information is excerpted from the Veterinary Wisdom® Educational Enclosure called General Grief found at www.veterinarywisdom.com
  • Grief is natural and normal.  Everyone grieves.  Some show it often and openly.  Others grieve privately.  There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
  • Men and women grieve differently.  Women often need to talk and cry.  Men often prefer to stay busy or to feel angry instead of sad.
  • Learn from loss and love again.
  • Pet loss is often trivialized and misunderstood, but it is a significant loss.  When your pet dies, you deserve sensitive, compassionate care.
  • Grieving honors life and heals the heart.
  • Grief can last a long time.  The events of the year following the loss can trigger grief over and over again.  Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and daily activities can reactivate hurt and feelings of loss.  Allow yourself to complete your grief.
  • Its natural to think you may see or hear your met after  your pet dies.  You may hear toenails click on the floor or see movement in the corner of your eye.  These grief “hallucinations” are normal.  We all have them.  We are just afraid to tell each other about them.
  • Euthanasia ranks as one of the most difficult decisions we make in life.  If you struggle with guilt, please remember that injury, illness, or advanced age took your pet’s life.  You chose euthanasia to spare your pet from further suffering.  You made this choice from love.
  • Pets depend on us for their safety and well-being.  When we love our pets, we commit ourselves to protecting them from harm.  That’s why it can be so hard to make the decision to euthanize a pet.
  • The love you and your pet shared is all that matters.
Copyright 2007 World by the Tail, Inc..This material is copyrighted and used here with permission. Proper credit and permission of the author must be obtained to reproduce elsewhere.The following poem is from Veterinary Wisdom® Educational Enclosure: Memorial Education Card found at www.veterinarywisdom.com.

Goodbye, Sweet Pet

Your days with me are at a close

Now I am the caretaker of our memories

I promise you will never be forgotten.

I’ll remember the everyday moments shared with you…

Peaceful mornings in the fresh green grass,

Excited greetings at the end of each long day,

Your warmth beside me during the night.

Thank you for showing me the true simplicity of love.

Goodbye, dear friend.

Rest peacefully.

You’ll live forever in my heart.

© Laurel Lagoni 2007

This material is copyrighted and used here with permission. Proper credit and permission of the author must be obtained to reproduce elsewhere.


Source: veterinarywisdom.com

Holiday Visitors: De-Stressing Your Pet

Holiday activities, especially visitors, can make dogs more excitable.  While your dog may be friendly, how do they react to new people in their home?  There are measures you and your family can take to help make the holiday season a much less stressful time for your pet.

  • Reduce stress levels for everyone by keeping feeding and exercise on a regular schedule. Keep in mind that too much excitement or disruption may cause stomach upset or trigger or aggravate illness.
  • Exercise your dog before you have guests over. Exercise will reduce stress for you and your dog.  A tired dog will likely be less rambunctious when visitors arrive.
  • Set aside a safe, quiet room in which the dog can escape holiday activity and guests.
  • Never leave dogs and children alone together. Always have an experienced adult supervise, no matter how well behaved the dog is. Anything can happen, especially with kids.
  • Keep a pet first aid kit accessible.
  • Contain your dog before opening the door for visitors. Consider having them drag a short leash around at home in case the pet needs to be corralled quickly or becomes stressed.  They can be lead calmly to their quiet room instead of avoiding being “caught”.
  • Reward calm, polite behavior.

It is very important to discuss with your guests how to interact with your pet.  Most people do not understand how to greet a dog properly.  When introducing yourself to a new dog, take a sideways stance instead of looking at the dog head-on.   Kneel or sit in a chair so you seem “smaller.”  Avoid direct eye contact until the dog displays signals that he is comfortable.  Look at the floor nearby, or in another direction.  Pretend to be uninterested in the dog.  Avoid speaking to the pet and trying to pet it.  Give visitors each a few small treats that they can drop on the floor or give the dog.   Keep in mind that dogs wag their tails for reasons other than happiness – a quickly wagging tail can indicate stress or fear in some pets.

Never try to introduce your dog to a visitor if the dog seems agitated.  If the dog’s hesitation is based on fear, forcing the dog forward will not address the problem.  Dogs may respond to fear by attempting to flee or even through aggressive display (such as growling, lunging or nipping) in an attempt to repel the stranger.

If your pet continues to be stressed or anxious when house guests are present, take them out of the situation.  Place the dog in a crate or a separate room. This practice alone does not change desirable greeting behavior. However, it guarantees safety and is particularly useful for dogs who are not used to a lot of visitors, or who dislike strangers, have guard instincts, and for situations involving young and/or rambunctious guests.


Source: paw-rescue.org

Turkey Day for Dogs


There’s enough for people to worry about at Thanksgiving.  But we can’t just think of ourselves over this food-focused holiday: We have to look after our best friends, too.

It’s easy to want to give your dog a big fat bowl of turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever else you think she might enjoy. But that’s a bad idea. Overindulging in fatty foods can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea, vomiting, or a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. Keep in mind that turkey skin can wreak havoc with a dog’s digestive system, so make sure she gets skinless, boneless turkey.

Cooked turkey bones can also be a danger to your dog. They’re sharp, and potentially very dangerous. Don’t leave plates with bones lying around. Ditto for the turkey carcass. Hungry dogs have been known to run off with the remains of a carved turkey. It can happen in the blink of an eye!

Begging pooch?  A dog who has been on a big walk or fetched the ball a zillion times will be much more likely to be well-behaved & and calm during the feast than a dog who’s been inside all day. A tired dog is a good dog on Thanksgiving. Make sure your pup gets plenty of exercise before the festivities begin.

Here is a list of foods you can share (in moderation!) with your dog on Thanksgiving compiled from doggies.com and webvet.com.

WARNING: Sharing these foods with your dog will result in one happy pooch giving you sloppy kisses and endless tail wags.

  •  Sweet potatoes without the skin
  •  Raw apple slices
  • Steamed carrots, broccoli or string beans without any seasoning or salt
  •  Raw carrots
  •  Salt-free chicken broth
  • Yams – no brown sugar or marshmallows
  • Corn – in small amounts, provides carbs for energy
  • Cranberries – high in Vitamin C and antioxidants
  • Mashed potatoes without the gravy, butter, sour cream, or salt
  • Pumpkin, before you turn it into pie
  •  Wild rice without seasoning – a good source of fiber
  • Turkey, without the skin or bone

Source: ilovedogs.com and dogster.com

Pet Sitters & Boarding Facilities: How to Find the Perfect Match for Your Pet

With the holiday season approaching, many clients are asking us to refer them to quality pet sitters or boarding kennels.  Both types of care of different and it will depend on your pet’s personality and needs to determine the best option.

A pet sitter does more than provide your pets with food and water while you’re away from home. A good pet sitter also spends quality time with your pet, gives him or her exercise, much needed attention, and knows how to tell if your pet needs veterinary attention. What’s more, pet sitters offer additional services, such as bringing in mail and newspapers, watering plants, turning lights on and off, and providing homes with a lived-in look to deter crime. But just because someone calls themselves a pet sitter doesn’t mean they are qualified to do the job. This information will help you find the best pet sitter for you and your pet.

It is a good idea to have a phone interview before hiring the sitter.  Ask questions like…

  • How long has the pet sitter been in business?
  • What training has the pet sitter received to handle emergencies?
  • Will the pet sitter record information about your pet, such as his likes, dislikes, fears, habits, medical conditions, medications, and routines? Is the pet sitter associated with a veterinarian who can provide emergency services?
  • What will happen if the pet sitter experiences car trouble or becomes ill? Does she have a backup?
  • Will the pet sitter provide a written service contract spelling out services and fees?
  • If the pet sitter provides live-in services like overnights, what are the specific times she agrees to be with your pet? Is this detailed in the contract?
  • How does your pet sitter make sure that you have returned home?
  • Will the pet sitter provide you with the phone numbers of other clients who have agreed to serve as references?

Even if you like what you hear from the pet sitter and from their references, it’s important to have the prospective pet sitter come to your home before you leave and they start your pet-sitting job. They should provide a list of policies and contract to you. They should go over your pet’s daily routine and customize their care to your pets needs. Watch how the pet sitter interacts with your pet—does your pet seem comfortable with them?

Other options are facilities like a boarding kennel.  A good boarding kennel can give your pet quality care in a clean, quiet, professional environment.  Some veterinary hospitals offer boarding services which may provide additional peace of mind.  Friends and neighbors may not have the experience or time to properly look after your pet, particularly for longer trips.

Call or come by Rita Ranch Pet Hospital for referrals on qualified pet sitters OR boarding facilities that we can recommend.  You could also ask a friend, neighbor, animal shelter, or dog trainer for a recommendation.  Once you have names, it’s important to do a little background check.

Quality facilities will readily give any potential client a “tour,” typically without notice.  On your visit, ask to see all the places your pet may be taken. Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Does the facility look and smell clean?
  • Is there sufficient ventilation and light?
  • Is a comfortable temperature maintained?
  • Does the staff seem knowledgeable and caring?
  • Are pets required to be current on their vaccinations, including the vaccine for canine kennel cough (Bordetella)? (Such a requirement helps protect your animal and others.)
  • Does each dog have his own adequately sized indoor-outdoor run or an indoor run and a schedule for exercise?
  • Are outdoor runs and exercise areas protected from wind, rain, and snow?
  • Are resting boards and bedding provided to allow dogs to rest off the concrete floor?
  • Are cats housed away from dogs?
  • Is there enough space for cats to move around comfortably?
  • Is there enough space between the litter box and food bowls?
  • How often are pets fed?
  • Can the owner bring a pet’s special food?

Before you head for the kennel, double-check that you have your pet’s medications and special food (if any), and contact information for you and a local backup.  Give them Rita Ranch Pet Hospital’s phone number so they can contact us if they have health concerns for your pet while you are away.

When you arrive with your pet at the boarding facility, remind the staff about any medical or behavior problems your pet has, such as a history of epilepsy or fear of thunder. After the check-in process, hand your pet to a staff member, say good-bye, and leave. Avoid long, emotional partings, which may upset your pet.

No matter which option you choose, have a good trip. You can have peace of mind knowing that your pet is in good hands and will be happy to see you when you return.

Sources: humanesociety.org and comfycreatures.com