In this video we discuss what to do if your dog ingests part of a tennis ball or other gastrointestinal foreign body (GIFB) (like rocks, corn cobs, peach pits, hair elastics, toys, socks, etc.). We discuss the risks these items pose to dogs, like intestinal obstruction that can require surgery. We discuss when a procedure to the remove the object (like endoscopy or surgery) might be needed. We discuss how to induce vomiting in dogs at home using hydrogen peroxide, and provide other tips to ensure that your pet receives medical care in a timely manner, before it is too late.

Q) We took our dog to the vet today my friend saw him eat part of the tennis ball the vet took an x-ray and it was visible on the x-ray they induced vomiting but the tennis ball did not come up they talked to us about surgery and endoscopy we took our dog home what should we do?

ANSWER) Oh yes, the tennis ball. I could fill a room with fragments of toys, rubber balls, synthetics and other household items like corn cobs, peach pits, rocks, fabric, socks, wallets, you name it... that dogs and cats ingest. They become trapped in their intestines and require surgery to remove.

I think of the stomach like a big sink. Where the stomach empties into the intestines, that's kind of like the drain. When you have a foreign body in the stomach, that's really your opportunity to get it out because once it goes down the drain into the little tiny pipes (into the intestines) that's where they become stuck, and that's typically when surgery is absolutely required. If a foreign body stays in the intestines for too long, it may sit there and the intestines will try to push it out with these little wave-like motions of the intestines, and foreign bodies can eventually saw through the intestines and perforate .

Once you have a perforation in the intestine, that is a 10 out of 10 major life-threatening emergency: sewage leaking into the abdominal cavity, septic shock , major heroics are required to save those dogs and with major heroics come huge medical bills so early intervention is definitely key in these situations.

I think inducing vomiting if you've just seen a dog ingest a foreign body and it's not sharp, I think inducing vomiting right away is a really smart and practical first step. It's something that owners can do at home with hydrogen peroxide -only for dogs, and always check with your vet first. With cats you have to do that at your vet there's a special medication that has to be given. Please do not use hydrogen peroxide on cats orally -that can cause major issues. The dose for dogs usually starts with a 0.5 ml to 1 ml per pound, and if that doesn't work you can repeat once. No peroxide for cats.

In the clinic, we have something that works a lot better -it's called apomorphine and we give it IV, and it almost always will get them to vomit and completely empty their stomach contents. I have brought up a lot of foreign bodies by inducing vomiting- balls gloves you name it, and it has saved a lot of dogs invasive procedures like endoscopy and surgery and the owners were also saved significant expense. Now, sometimes you're dealing with a foreign body just due to its shape or size it's not easily produced with vomiting and it just can't make it quite out of the stomach.

In those situations, if it's too large to pass , your best next up is endoscopy. You usually have to see a specialist for this (an internal medicine specialist) but most emergency clinics can either offer this service at the hospital or direct you to the next person. Endoscopy involves general anesthesia and passing a scope into the stomach to try to retrieve the objects with little graspers. It's not practical for all foreign bodies (if you have something sharp it's definitely not a good idea- you do not want to lacerate the esophagus on the way up, as that would be a huge disaster but it is one of the potential complications of endoscopy). Not all foreign bodies can be retrieved that way.

I think if vomiting was attempted and you truly feel that your dog emptied her stomach contents it wasn't like a little wimpy vomit then I think an endoscopy is probably the next step if this is a foreign body that's too large to pass. Where I am, we refer them to an internist for this and it's usually about $2,500 for the anesthesia and the procedure, so just to give you an idea of that. Now if you leave it, sometimes it will come up later down the road in vomit, but at the end of the day a lot of these foreign bodies go down "the drain", become lodged in the intestines and your cost is double or triple to have a surgical procedure performed get that out.

At the end of the day, I think it's always appropriate to consult with a veterinarian.

I think it sounds like your veterinarian's recommendations were appropriate and to be honest I suspect that the biggest barrier you're facing and not knowing what exactly to do it's probably cost and logistics. It all boils down to the main take-home points: 1) don't put yourself in a situation where you have to choose between getting your pet medical care and cost 2) when you get a dog you need to be a little bit informed about the costs that are associated with caring for that pet and also you need to be informed that they don't come with medical insurance- that's something that you need to sign them up for at an early age so that when something like this happens you're not having to pay everything out-of-pocket.

I have a post on medical insurance I talked about some of the different companies I know I definitely have my favorite. I don't work for them at all, but at the end of the day when people come in saying that they have Trupanion pet insurance, we all just can take a deep breath and know that we can just do whatever needs to be done because they have good medical insurance. So that is my recommendation to you, and I think that you should follow-up and get this dealt with not leave it too long before it becomes a more involved and expensive problem. Good luck! Let me know how that goes! Okay take care!

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