Pet emergencies from foreign body ingestion are common because pets, especially dogs and cats, are naturally curious creatures. It’s important for pet owners to understand the gravity of this situation, the potential risks, and the value of immediate action. At East Valley Urgent Pet Care, we understand the urgency of these situations and are here to provide prompt and compassionate care when your pet needs it most.

What are Signs that Your Pet Ingested a Foreign Object?

Being able to recognize the signs and symptoms of your pet swallowing a foreign object is important for intervention. Here are some common indicators that your pet may have ingested a foreign object:

  • Behavioral Changes: Restlessness, pacing, or unusual lethargy could signal discomfort or distress caused by a foreign body in their digestive system.
  • Gastrointestinal Distress: If your pet experiences frequent episodes of vomiting, loss of appetite, drooling, or diarrhea, it could indicate a potential foreign body obstruction.
  • Loss of Appetite: If your pet consistently turns away from their food or shows disinterest in eating, it’s essential to investigate further.
  • Difficulty Breathing or Swallowing: Difficulty breathing or swallowing can manifest as coughing, gagging, or wheezing. If you notice any signs of respiratory distress, seek immediate veterinary attention.
  • Abdominal Pain or Discomfort: Pets may exhibit signs of abdominal pain or discomfort, such as whining, vocalizing, or guarding their abdomen.

What are Common Objects that Pets Swallow?

  • Small Toys or Toy Parts: Small toys and toy parts can easily be chewed off and swallowed, leading to choking or gastrointestinal obstruction.
  • Clothing and Accessories: Items like socks, underwear, buttons, zippers, and strings from clothing or accessories can be tempting targets for pets to chew on.
  • Household Items: Rubber bands, hair ties, and small household items like coins or keys are often within reach of pets and may be accidentally ingested during play or exploration.
  • Food Items: Bones, corn cobs, and other food items can present choking hazards or cause gastrointestinal issues if swallowed whole or in large pieces.
  • Plants and Garden Materials: Some pets may nibble on plants or ingest garden materials like mulch or rocks, which can be toxic or cause digestive problems if consumed in large quantities.
  • Personal Care Products: Items such as cotton swabs, dental floss, or medication packaging may be attractive to pets but can pose serious risks if ingested.
  • Electronics and Batteries: Small electronic devices, cords, or batteries can be enticing to pets but can cause serious internal injuries or poisoning if ingested.
  • Household Chemicals: Cleaning products, pesticides, and other household chemicals should always be stored securely away from pets to prevent accidental ingestion and poisoning.

What to Do if Your Pet Swallowed a Foreign Object

Knowing how to respond when your pet swallows a foreign object can make all the difference in ensuring their safety. Here are the immediate steps to take:

Assess Your Pet’s Condition: It’s important to stay calm and composed to assess the situation rationally. Check your pet for any signs of distress or discomfort. Look for symptoms such as gagging, vomiting, abdominal pain, or difficulty breathing.

Contact Your Veterinarian, Pet poison control, or Emergency Pet Care Facility: If you suspect that your pet has swallowed a foreign object, contact your veterinarian immediately. Provide them with details of the situation and any observed symptoms to expedite the process of receiving medical assistance.

Follow Veterinary Instructions: Your veterinarian will provide you with specific instructions based on your pet’s condition and the nature of the ingested object. They may advise you to monitor your pet closely at home or instruct you to bring them in for immediate evaluation and treatment.

Avoid Inducing Vomiting: Unless instructed by your veterinarian, refrain from attempting to induce vomiting in your pet. In some cases, attempting to force vomiting can worsen the situation or cause additional harm, especially if the ingested object is sharp or toxic.

Keep Your Pet Comfortable: While awaiting veterinary guidance or during transportation to the clinic, keep your pet calm and comfortable. Minimize their activity level and provide them with a quiet, stress-free environment.

Provide Necessary Information: Be prepared to provide your vet with information about the ingested object, including its size, composition, and potential toxicity. This information will assist them in formulating an appropriate treatment plan.

Act Speedy: often the faster medical intervention is obtained after ingestion of an object or substance the better the outcome is, and avoidance of invasive treatments such as surgery. 

How To Prevent Your Pets from Swallowing Foreign Objects

Preventing foreign body ingestion incidents in pets requires proactive measures and diligent supervision. Create a safe and pet-friendly environment both indoors and outdoors. Keep a watchful eye on your pet during playtime and ensure that trash bins are inaccessible to pets. By implementing preventive measures, you can significantly reduce the risk of foreign body ingestion incidents in your pets. 

  • Keep small objects and potential hazards out of reach
  • Supervise pets during playtime and mealtime
  • Provide appropriate toys and chews designed for pets
  • Properly dispose of potential choking hazards
  • Maintain a pet-safe environment indoors and outdoors
  • Do not provide soft toys to dogs who are known to shred or destroy
  • Avoid strings and other interesting items from lying around

Urgent Vet Appointments in Mesa, AZ

Staying informed and prepared for pet emergencies is important for every pet owner. However, accidents can still happen despite our best efforts. Whether you are seeking immediate assistance for a pet emergency or have questions about your animal, contact East Valley Urgent Pet Care in Mesa, AZ.  Our compassionate team is here to provide expert care when you need it most.

Megan Usiak-McBeth


Dr. Megan Usiak-McBeth leads East Valley Urgent Pet Care with a philosophy of treating every pet and owner as she would wish to be treated. With a background in emergency veterinary medicine and experience as a veterinary nurse, she is not only technically adept but deeply compassionate, often serving as an advocate for voiceless pets. Beyond her urgent care duties, Dr. Usiak is passionate about educating the next generation of veterinarians and enjoys outdoor activities with her family.

Dr. Megan Usiak-McBeth, BVMS, at East Valley Urgent Pet Care in Mesa, AZ

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