Dogs are curious and view anything on their level as a potential chew toy. Their instinct is to chew and swallow pieces of the object. Usually the pieces are small enough to pass through their digestive tract, causing little trouble. Occasionally the object is too large and becomes lodged in the stomach or the small or large intestine. This can be a serious situation and requires a visit to the vet.
Upper Digestive System
If a foreign object is lodged in your dog's upper digestive system, your dog will be unable to swallow food. Your dog will experience excessive drooling, with streams of saliva trailing from its mouth. It will cough frequently and retch, trying to dislodge the obstruction. Your dog may vomit undigested food or yellow bile if the stomach is emptied of food.
Lower Digestive System
A large obstruction in the stomach will cause your dog to vomit at intervals, while a smaller object in the intestines will cause frequent vomiting and retching. Waste material can build up behind the blockage, which will cause bloating and pain. As a result, your dog will lose its appetite and refuse to eat or drink anything. If the object is in the small intestine, your dog may vomit and have diarrhoea. Your dog will strain to move its bowels if the object is in the large intestine. Mucus and blood may be passed. If there is complete blockage, gangrene can develop in the bowel within hours. This is a life-threatening situation.
The vet will probe your dog's abdomen. An X-ray will generally show any object that is lodged in the stomach or in the upper small intestine. The vet may also advise ultrasound or an endoscopy. If the obstruction is too large to pass, surgery will most likely be recommended. The dog's recovery is usually complete.
Other Causes and Symptoms
There are other conditions that can cause these symptoms. Bloat, Addison's disease, pancreatitis and food allergies are a few. If your dog is experiencing these symptoms, it is imperative that you visit your vet for a professional diagnosis. If your dog is not displaying any symptoms but hasn't had a bowel movement for 24 hours, take it to the vet to verify whether or not it has swallowed an object.