Every year hundreds of dogs are seen at veterinary hospitals throughout the country for eating things they shouldn't. The most common culprit is the Garbage Can Moocher, who indiscriminately sucks up bones, hard plastic, you name it! The most common signs of distress noted by the owner are excessive vomiting right after eating and lethargy. Usually what happens is the dog eats something it shouldn't, and instead of passing through his system it gets stuck in the stomach, intestine or bowel. Without immediate attention the dog can die. Since the foreign matter cannot move by itself, the intestines go to work at trying to pass it. If it is a sharp object (such as bone), it can cut through the wall of the intestine, creating a lot of discomfort; if it is soft (like a piece of cellophane) it can totally block the intestine, causing parts of it to die and become necrotic. Either spells bad news for the dog. If the owner is diligent and gets the dog to the vet right away, usually the dog can be saved. If the foreign body cannot be passed by the dog the veterinarian will recommend surgery. Though necessary to save the dog's life, surgery can be traumatic and complicated: special care must be taken after the operation to ensure the dog makes a full recovery.
To be sure that your dog stays among the living, be sure to call your vet if you ever notice that your dog vomits after he eats, totally refuses food or is extremely lethargic and mopey. Usually the doctor will examine the dog , get a good history from the owner and evaluate the situation. Often times they may take an xray and have you wait a day to see if the dog can pass the object on his own. If this is unsuccessful the vet will recommend a barium series to determine where the blockage is and the correct procedure to remove it. All of this can add up to be quite expensive.
Preventive measures include avoid letting your dog have toys that he can eat parts of, and access to the garbage. Never give your dog real bones to chew, and watch him with store bought toys even if they say they're safe for dogs. Contrary to what you may have read elsewhere, rawhide IS a safe toy for your dog to have. Try to buy big bones so your dog cannot swallow large pieces all at once, and control the length of time the dog gets to chew on the bone. Unlike most other chew toys, rawhide rarely gets stuck in the intestine since it is digestible and can be broken down by the body. As with anything, moderation is the key.