Sydney Mobile Vet Service

Mon / Fri 7:30 am - 7 pm

Sat 9 am - 4 pm

Foreign Body Retrieval

When you become a dog owner, there’s one thing you’re likely to discover – dogs love to eat… anything!

Despite having a good nutritional diet, some dogs regularly seek out objects to chew.

The danger is that they can ingest all sorts of items, and it can lead to serious medical issues. Depending on the item, your pet may need surgery for foreign body retrieval.

When your pet swallows an object

When your pet swallows an object


Dogs – and sometimes cats – don’t always understand what they should and shouldn’t eat… and animals can swallow a whole host of objects. We’ve found dogs who have ingested children’s toys, string, bikini tops, sticks and even tennis balls. Sometimes human food or rubbish can be the culprit.

When your pet consumes a non-food item, it is not likely to pass through their gastrointestinal tract.

That can lead to a range of problems, the severity of which will depend on where the item has lodged, if it is causing an obstruction and how long it has been present inside their body. Toxicity might also pose a major threat, depending on what the object is made of.

One potential medical issue with a foreign body is perforation of the intestinal tract, and this can ultimately lead to inflammation of the abdominal lining (peritonitis) and sepsis, both of which may be life-threatening.

Knowing when to act

Knowing when to act


Some small objects can pass through your pet. If not, your pet may experience a range of symptoms and pain ranging from mild to severe.

The clinical signs that indicate your pet might have swallowed a foreign body can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhoea
  • Restlessness or an arched back position (with head down) due to abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite.
Golden retriever puppy sitting on the floor

About foreign body retrieval


If the foreign body doesn’t pass naturally through your dog, then we do need to intervene. Should an item be lodged in your pet’s mouth, oesophagus or stomach, we may be able to locate it through pet endoscopy. In many cases, our mobile vet will perform chest or bowel surgery in hospital for full foreign body retrieval.

As a first step, our vet may be able to assess your pet at home. We will likely need to conduct further testing at our base hospital, including radiology and blood tests.

Our vet will talk to you before the surgery to make sure you are clear on everything that’s involved, including post-operative vet treatments and home care.

Rest assured, our vet has performed hundreds of foreign body retrieval surgeries – so your dog or cat will be in very good hands.

If you suspect your pet has swallowed an object, it’s important to contact our Sydney mobile vet immediately.

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