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Dr. B.
Dr. B., Board Certified Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 21464
Experience:  General practice veterinary surgeon with extensive experience in a wide range of species.
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My 4 yr old labrador swallowed a solid rubber ball around

Customer Question

my 4 yr old labrador swallowed a solid rubber ball around 4cm diameter,this is the 3rd day i havent seen him poop, he hasnt shown any signs of discomfort, but i am concerned he hasnt passed this ball
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Hello & welcome, I am Dr. B, a licensed veterinarian and I would like to help you today. I do apologize that your question was not answered before. Different experts come online at various times; I just came online, read about your situation, and wanted to help.

Again I do apologize that my colleagues could not aid you sooner. If you would still like assistance, can you tell me:

Was it eaten whole or chewed to bits?

Is he still eating and drinking? Can he keep it all down?

Any retching, gagging, lip licking, drooling, or vomiting?

Are his gums nice and pink (not white/pale)? Moist or sticky?

Even if he isn't showing discomfort signs, can you press on his belly and does he have any tensing, tenderness, discomfort, or pain when you do so?

Is he straining as if he wants to pass stool?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it was swallowed whole.
he is still eating and drinking and urinating as normal.
he isn't being sick or retching.
gums pink, and no tenderness when stomach pressed.
i follow him outside whenever he goes and shows no signs of straining
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you,

Now the ball being whole works against us since it is a of a size that could potentially lodge in the gut to cause an obstruction. That said, these sometime struggle to pass and linger in the stomach for days (only causing problems if they block the outflow when the dog has eaten). So, we need to tread with care if you have seen no feces or the ball out the other end.

In regards ***** ***** at this stage for Edison, we have 2 options. We can have him seen for an xray and exam to try to locate where the ball is. If it is still in the stomach, it can be removed using the vet's endoscope (a scope with a camera). If it is further but looks like it will pass, his vet can prescribe medical treatment. Though if stuck further along the gut, surgery or at least an enema may be needed.

Otherwise, since he has no other signs, you can choose to monitor him while trying to aid this passing. For that, we'd want to start small meals of a light diet. Examples of an easily digestible diet include cooked white rice with boiled chicken, boiled white fish, scrambled egg, or meat baby food (as long as its free from garlic or onion powder). Ideally, we want to offer this as small frequent meals to keep his stomach settled. Whichever you choose to offer, you can add some fiber (ie a spoonful of tinned pumpkin or all bran) to the food to bulk up his stool and push the ball through the intestines. As well, you can also add a dose of a GI lubricant (ie cat hairball medication Miralax, lactulose or food grade mineral oil). These can be beneficial for getting this slipping through the gut. Though do be aware that when using the lubricants, we can see self limiting runny stools, but that tends to settle once we are finished using it.

While doing this, we do need to keep a close eye on him. Red flags of trouble or obstruction include restlessness, lethargy, vomiting with blood or coffee ground type material, inability to keep any food or water down, anorexia, pale gums, straining to pass feces (so we need to keep an eye on that) or passage of black feces (digested blood). If you see these signs, then having him seen would be best for his vet to have a feel of his belly +/- an xray to see where it has gotten caught.

Overall, situations like these always require us to be on our toes and tread with care. Since Edison hasn't any adverse signs yet, you can use the above steps for him while keeping a close eye. Otherwise, if you see any of those other signs or want to err on the side of caution, then having him examined +/- xrayed would be ideal so we know what that ball is up to and whether we'd need to intervene to help it pass.

All the best,

Dr. B.

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Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for all your advice, ed is pooping quite regularly now, he still hasnt passed the ball though. He isnt tender anywhere, and doesnt appear to be straining when he does go, gums are still pink and he is still drinking and urinating as normal, and seems to be as full of energy as he always was. I will continue to monitor his movements to see if it comes out, but not sure what else to do.
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome, my dear.

I am glad to hear that he is passing stool normally now. Though if he hasn't passed the ball (and hasn't vomited it up when we werent' watching), then monitoring those signs would be indicated. As long as he doesn't develop those signs we are keeping an eye on, we'd not be worried here. And if he is due for a check up or xray in the near future, your vet can double check the ball isn't still present in the stomach (rare but can happen).

Best wishes,

Dr. B.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ed finally threw up the ball, just thought you would like to know :)
Thank you very much for all your advice
Expert:  Dr. B. replied 1 year ago.

Woo hoo!!

That is great news and I am glad to hear that its out and cannot cause us any more worry. :)

Best wishes and a lovely weekend to you both,

Dr. B.