What to Do (and Not to Do) if Your Pet Ingests a Foreign Object

Having a pet can mean dealing with a veterinary emergency once in a while. If your pet swallows something they shouldn’t, time is of the essence. Here‘s a brief guide on what to do if your pet ingests a foreign object.

If you think your pet has swallowed a foreign object, you should first call your veterinarian. If it is during regular business hours, they will likely be able to see your pet right away. If it’s after hours, you should call an emergency vet clinic or hospital.

While waiting for your dog to be seen, you can do a few things to help them. Here’s a list of what to do (and not to do) if your pet has swallowed a foreign object:

1. Try to Keep Them Calm and Still.

If your pet is agitated, they may be more likely to vomit or move the object into their intestines. Try to keep them calm and still while waiting for a vet.

The following are tips for keeping your pet calm:

  • Talk to them in a soothing voice
  • Pet them gently
  • Give them a quiet place to rest

2. Do NOT Try to Make Them Vomit.

In most cases, trying to make your pet vomit is not a good idea. This could cause them to aspirate (inhale) the object into their lungs, which can be very dangerous.

There are three exceptions to this rule, including:

  • If the object is sharp and could do damage if it’s moved further down into the digestive tract.
  • If the object is toxic and needs to be removed from the body quickly.
  • If you’re instructed to do so by a veterinarian.

3. If Possible, Know What Kind of Object They Swallowed.

It can be helpful to tell the vet if you know what kind of object your pet swallowed. This will help them determine what treatment is necessary. If your pet shows signs of discomfort, it’s best to err on caution and assume that the object is stuck.

Signs that an Object May Be Stuck:

  • Retching
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness

In this case, surgery may be necessary. See here to learn more about the signs that an object may be stuck.

4. Keep an Eye on Their Symptoms.

While waiting for your pet to be seen by a vet, it’s essential to keep an eye on their symptoms, such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Difficulty of breathing
  • Seem to be in pain

These could be signs that the foreign object is causing a blockage or other problems.

5. Do NOT Give Them Food or Water Unless Instructed By a Vet.

It’s important not to give your pet anything to eat or drink until a vet sees them. This includes water. In some cases, providing food or water can make a foreign object more likely to cause an obstruction.

6. Prepare to Go to the Vet.

Once you’ve called the vet, it’s time to get ready. If you’re taking your pet to an emergency clinic, be sure to bring:

  • Their leash
  • A carrier (if necessary)
  • Any relevant medical records
  • A list of any medications they’re currently taking
  • Their favorite toy or blanket (to help keep them calm)
  • Your pet’s insurance information (if applicable)

To Summarize

As a responsible fur parent, many responsibilities come with caring for your pet. From feeding them, having their puppy shots, and sheltering them to ensuring they get enough exercise, there’s a lot to think about.

You should first call your veterinarian if your pet has swallowed a toy or any foreign object. Remember that time is of the essence. Consider the tips above for what to do (and not to do) in the meantime. Bring any relevant medical information when you take your pet to the vet.