Quiz: Holiday myths debunked

Tinsel and ribbons are pet-friendly decorations.
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Dec 16, 2010
By dvm360.com staff

TinselYou chose myth: Correct!

Myth: Though they’re not poisonous, when ingested these strings can result in a life-threatening linear foreign body, intestinal perforation, and septic peritonitis (infection in the abdominal cavity).

Threat to pets: A linear foreign body occurs when pets swallow something stringy, like ribbon, tinsel, yarn, or floss. The stringy-item wraps around the base of the tongue or anchors in the stomach and is unable to pass through the intestines. As the intestines contract and move, this string slowly saws through the intestinal tissue, resulting in severe damage and possible rupture of the pet’s intestinal tract.

Treatment: The treatment for linear foreign bodies involves complex and expensive abdominal surgery, hospitalization, pain management, IV fluids, prescription diets, antibiotics, and frequent monitoring of laboratory values. Even after surgical removal, some pets may not survive.

If a pet does ingest a long piece of tinsel, ribbon, thread or string, advise the owner to immediately bring the animal into the clinic for an examination. Most importantly, if pet owners report they can see the string hanging from the pet’s mouth or anus, tell them not to pull on it as doing so may result in further tissue damage. Only trained veterinary professionals should remove such strings.

Prognosis: Good if the pet is treated before severe signs and intestinal damage result. If the intestine is perforated the prognosis becomes much worse.

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