Dog Stomach Problems
The stomach is susceptible to many of the same injuries as the gullet. After all, it is in a sense only an enlargement of the gullet and connection to the intestinal tract. It has a valve on each end and certain specialized functions.
Poisons, corrosives, and acids that might pass so rapidly down the esophagus they damage it little or not at all can lie in the stomach for long enough to do the damage there. Sharp objects can penetrate the stomach’s walls easily; gas formation, if the gas is unable to escape, can balloon it so that its walls are stretched sometimes permanently. Parasites live in it. Hot or cold foods affect it. Grass, straw, hay, pine needles, hair, cloth waste, coarse shavings all kinds of foreign bodies may irritate its delicate lining or form impactions. Stomach ulcers may occur on its inner surface. Infectious diseases may inflame it and retard its functions. Accidents may rupture it, especially if it is full of food; it may be punctured by bullets or sharp objects. Abnormal growths may appear on either of its surfaces. Adhesions may cause the intestines to cling to it. How can a layperson recognize any of these conditions? What can he or she do to alleviate them? Should a veterinarian be consulted?
Penetration by Sharp Objects. When a dog shows pain and vomits blood you should consider the possibility of stomach punctures by sharp objects. If you have reason to suspect that the dog has swallowed any such object, prompt veterinary treatment usually surgery is necessary. X-rays show some objects very clearly.
Foreign Material Causing Impactions. Mature dogs with impact-ions masses of material that cannot be assimilated generally show considerable pain, sometimes vomit and lie around without showing much interest in what goes on about them. The condition is not always easy to detect. One more or less constant symptom is the tenseness of the abdominal muscles. This is a symptom of nearly all pain in and about the stomach. Occasionally dogs will assume a position of standing on their hind legs with their chests resting on the floor.
Puppies with foreign bodies in the stomach react similarly. They may be altogether so tense that one cannot feel the abdominal contents properly. When an emetic is given, the stomach empties and the abdominal muscles relax with the disappearance of the pain.
X-rays may help reveal foreign bodies in the stomach, though they often fail to show such things as wood, glass, grass, or cigar butts.
When dogs eat pieces of meat or bones while lying on straw or bedding, very often the bedding sticks to the food and is swallowed. But dogs also eat such matter all by themselves and apparently from choice. It is more or less to be expected that a dog will nibble at grass and sometimes vomit within an hour after eating it or even within a few minutes. But some dogs eat great quantities of grass they eat and eat until the mass in their stomachs cannot move one way or the other.
Dogs sometimes develop a passion for pine needles to stand up on their hind legs to eat needles off the trees. Dogs eating garbage, especially from restaurant pails or barrels, often consume quantities of bologna cellophane wrappings, paper, and arid other indigestible residue. Material of this sort forms a large lump in the stomach. It’s the Whitney Veterinary Clinic we have seen impaction twigs, cinders, hay, and leaves all intertwined and causing great distress to the dogs. It is not uncommon for dogs to swallow women’s stockings and other materials of the sort.
But puppies take the prize for the oddities they will swallow. Occasionally, when long objects have been swallowed, one end will still be in sight and the object can be pulled out. Emptying an impaction of vegetable matter can frequently be accomplished with repeated large doses of mineral oil. If a tablespoonful is given twice a day it not only helps the mass to untangle but lubricates the irritating material as it passes through the intestines. Vive has recovered as much as two quarts of pine needles from a large dog, wads and wads of hay and straw, as well as rope, cloth, and quantities of sticks and bosses.
There are impactions that only surgery can remove, foreign bodies that cannot be extracted in any other way. Needles and wires may penetrate the stomach, work through the liver and diaphragm, scratch the heart, and kill the fluke dog unless removed in time. X-rays are, of course, invaluable in such casts.
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