Petriage Clinical Insights

IMPORTANT: This article, which is provided for educational purposes only, is based on published veterinary data and decades of work with pets and pet parents. The information provided here is not designed to be comprehensive but to help you avoid the pitfalls of online misinformation and most importantly, to frame the conversation you should have with your veterinarian. Your veterinarian’s perspective may differ from what is expressed here. Always consult with your veterinarian.

Foreign Body Ingestion

Pets often ingest foreign bodies, which have the potential to cause significant gastrointestinal problems. The examples are almost infinite—toys, socks, strings, tampons, batteries, and the list goes on. Items might become lodged in part of the GI tract, and removal might even require surgery. While ingestion of a foreign body can be seen in pets of any age, it is most commonly observed in young pets. 


If you suspect that your pet has ingested something, observe them carefully, looking for any signs of discomfort or gastrointestinal upset. Pain, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, drooling and lip smacking are all worrisome symptoms that your veterinarian will need to know about. 

Not all foreign bodies are an emergency, and factors such as the nature of the object, its size, and how your pet is feeling can play a significant role in deciding what needs to be done. Whenever ingestion of a foreign body is a concern, contact your veterinarian to determine what you should do next. 


Do not automatically assume that you need to induce vomiting if your pet ingested a foreign body. Contact your veterinarian before attempting any treatment. 


  • While it is often impossible to know for sure if your pet has ingested something, try to verify your concerns by determining if the suspect foreign body is missing, or is missing pieces. 
  • Cats love to play with and then ingest so-called linear foreign bodies such as strings, rubber bands, and dental floss. Keep these things away from them. 
  • Young dogs, especially the medium and large breeds, do not need a good reason to swallow an object. If they are able to swallow it, they very often will. 
  • If you give your dog chew objects such as rawhides, bones, or pig ears, always supervise them closely. Some dogs will try hard to swallow these treats, and should not be given them at all. 
  • If you observed your pet swallowing a foreign body, do not panic. At least you know for a fact that your pet did it, and you know what the object is. Often the biggest challenge for the veterinarian is to discern if a pet is sick because of a foreign body or another reason altogether. Knowing the facts will lead to a quicker diagnosis and effective treatment plan, while avoiding expensive and unnecessary diagnostics. 
  • Do not encourage retrieving breeds to retrieve stones and sticks. This can become a life-long hazardous habit.