Dogs are notorious chewers, and in the process of their chewing, they sometimes swallow objects that they shouldn't. They've been known to chew up papers and nearly anything else in your house. Sometimes they swallow items that could harm them internally, such as pens, batteries, and toys. When your dog swallows something they shouldn't, you need to take immediate action.
If you see your dog swallow something, call the vet for advice. Depending on the object, you may need to watch your dog's stools to see if it passes or you may need to bring the dog in immediately. Of course, you often do not see your dog swallow something they shouldn't, but you can sometimes tell they have done so by certain symptoms they exhibit afterward. If your dog begins vomiting up their food and then a watery substance, it may be a sign that they have swallowed something indigestible. They may also become constipated or have diarrhea. Other indications include lethargy, a sore stomach, and lack of appetite. In these instances, an emergency trip to the vet is in order.
Fortunately, your vet now has many of the same diagnostic tools that your personal physician does. In addition to x-rays, they may use a veterinary ultrasound and even CT scans to determine what your dog ate, if it is stuck, and whether it has perforated an organ. Your vet will be able to determine from these tests whether a surgical procedure is necessary or whether another method can be used.
Due to all the vomiting, your vet may need to treat your dog for dehydration before they perform any procedures. Once the animal is strong enough, the vet may either perform surgery or an endoscopy to remove the foreign object. For either procedure, you dog will be put under anesthesia. The endoscope is a flexible tube with a camera attached that can be inserted in the dog's esophagus to locate the object. Sometimes this object can then be removed with another instrument, eliminating the need for surgery. If surgery is necessary, your dog should recover fully but will have a longer convalescence.
You can never ensure that your pet will not get into something they shouldn't, but you can try and keep harmful items shut in drawers or placed out of reach. Dogs will chew almost anything they can get their paws on, so be careful and watch for signs that they have swallowed something that might harm them.