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Linear Foreign Objects and Your Pet

By January 31, 2020 Uncategorized

Keep Pets Away From Ribbon, Tinsel, and Other String-Like Objects

The holiday season is in full swing, so while you’re wrapping presents and putting up festive decorations, we wanted to take a moment to remind you of a potential hazard to pets. Many cats and dogs find long, thin objects like ribbon, tinsel, twine, and yarn fun to play with, but these “playthings” can quickly turn deadly if a pet swallows them.


Why Are Linear Foreign Objects Dangerous?

When a pet swallows what we call a “linear foreign object” or “linear foreign body,” it can create an incredibly dangerous situation for your pet.


The particular problem with long, string-like objects is that one end can get caught in one part of the digestive tract, like the stomach, intestine, or base of the tongue (especially common in cats), while the other end of the object continues to move through the gastrointestinal tract. When this happens, the string can become bunched up, much like an elastic drawstring in the waistband of sweatpants.


As the intestine tries to move the linear foreign object through the digestive tract, the motion can actually cause the object to tear or saw through the intestine. If the contents of the intestine spill into the abdomen, the pet’s life will be at risk.


If your pet has swallowed a string or string-like object, call us right away at 540-891-1275! This is a serious, potentially life-threatening situation, and the sooner we see your pet at St. Francis, the better chance your pet has for a fast and full recovery.


What Linear Objects Should You Keep Your Pet Away From?

These long, stringy objects can spell trouble for cats and dogs:

  • Carpet fibers (such as from looped Berber carpets)
  • Dental floss
  • Ribbon
  • Rope and rope toys
  • String and toys with a string
  • Strings from damaged or chewed leashes
  • Threads from clothing
  • Threads from towels or blankets
  • Tinsel
  • Twine
  • Yarn


What Are Signs That Your Pet May Have Swallowed a Linear Foreign Object?

If your pet has swallowed a linear foreign body, he or she may show these symptoms:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Hiding
  • Inability to get comfortable
  • Lack of energy/enthusiasm (lethargy)
  • Refusal to eat

Don’t delay! Contact us immediately if your pet is vomiting or showing other signs of possible linear foreign object ingestion.


What Should You Do If You Think Your Pet Swallowed a Linear Foreign Object?

At St. Francis Animal Hospital, we’ll perform a physical exam and use diagnostic imaging, such as x-rays and abdominal ultrasound, to help us determine whether your pet has swallowed a string or other linear foreign object.


If you think or know your pet has swallowed a piece of ribbon, tinsel, or other string-like item, call us right away at 540-891-1275. The quicker we can get your pet in to see a veterinarian, the better the chance of a full recovery and the lower the risk of possible complications.


Author jchrist

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