Q: What do international supermodels and corn cobs have in common?
A: They both can be considered to be “foreign bodies”.
So what is a foreign body, and why mention it in a newsletter article? In the veterinary field, a foreign body is an object in the wrong place. We see skin-penetrating foreign bodies such as grass seeds and thorns, as well as gastrointestinal foreign bodies. The intestinal foreign bodies are usually objects that will not digest and have a diameter of roughly 2 -3 cm, small enough to swallow but large enough to get stuck passing through the intestine.
Probably the most common foreign body we see is a corn cob, though due to the rather indiscriminate eating habits of our patients there is a varied and interesting range of intestinal foreign bodies that can be rescued from the intestinal tract of a dog. In recent times we have had a marble with a dinosaur in it and a pretty green plastic toy frog (with big red eyes).
The list of foreign bodies retrieved seems endless: a leather dog collar, some balls -golf, squash and tennis (dogs seem to like all sports), peach seeds, banksias and so on. The more challenging ones to diagnose are the soft ones such as socks and glad wrap (cats seem to love Glad Wrap, ribbons and hair ties). If the object gets past the stomach then surgical treatment will entail opening up the abdomen and the intestines and removing the object.
If it stays in the stomach or oesophagus we may be able to retrieve it via an endoscope- this is a tube with a light source which can pass down the oesophagus and into the stomach. Recently one of our nurse’s dog ate a part from a car and we were able to retrieve it endoscopically. Sharp foreign bodies are a whole different ballgame.
I do not understand dog’s obsessions with meat skewers. They often penetrate through the wall of the oesophagus, stomach or small intestine and then serious infections occur.
Fish hooks (I assume they start out with some fish attached to make them palatable) are another nasty. If ever your dog swallows one of these, do not cut off the fishing line. Their retrieval is easier if we can follow down the line with the endoscope.The bottom line is, be careful what you let your dog chew on, never give them corn cobs, keep fish on hooks away from dogs and cats (and wild birds as well- though Mark has a very nifty technique with a piece of PVC pipe for removing fish hooks from pelicans).
The other thing that supermodels and corn cobs can have in common is- they can be expensive!