The Dangers When Dogs Swallow Foreign Objects!
|It happens all too often! You’re sitting on the couch with your furry companion next to you watching her chew on a new toy and then you notice a 3”x1” piece of it is GONE! You look around and you don’t find it. Did it get swallowed? Did it fall between the cushion? Where could it be you ask yourself? Or maybe you heard from a friend whose Dachshund was taken to the vet and had 20+ hair scrunches in his intestines surgically removed. Or maybe your dog threw up and out came a hardened piece of curled up rubber from a tennis ball that had been thrown away weeks ago, if not months.
YES - IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOUR DOG TOO!
Dogs Are Naturally Curious And Will Eat Just About Anything. Sometimes their curiosity gets the best of them. Puppies investigate their world with their mouths by tasting and chewing. Puppies may gulp some things accidentally when a piece of a toy breaks off. Dogs with mouths like vacuum cleaners tend to eat a lot of strange things and they like to sample all sorts of objects: toilet paper, rocks, shoes, sticks, foil, string, garbage, wood splinters, bark, clothing, rubber balls, pacifiers, rawhide, leather, peach pits, pennies, string/ribbon, remote controls, batteries (discussed more in detail below), and the list goes on and on. With string, one end often knots up while the other gets caught in the food. Tension on the string then causes it to cut through the wall of the bowel. Swallowing pennies will not usually cause an obstruction, but can be toxic. While many of these things somehow pass through the intestinal tract without incident (to the owner’s dismay), sometimes a dog’s taste for life can cause problems. The most common problem with this is “foreign body” obstruction. This can be a potentially life-threatening condition! Foreign body obstruction occurs when one of the many strange objects ingested by your dog is unable to make it successfully through the intestinal tract. When the object becomes “stuck,” it can cause a lot of discomfort and can be very dangerous. Just because they’re pooping, eating and drinking normally doesn’t mean they’re safe from the dangers if they swallowed a foreign object. The esophagus of a dog is larger than the outlet of his stomach and he may swallow objects that are too large to pass out of the stomach. If an object makes it into the small intestine, it may pass through the entire GI tract without causing problems. Sharp objects such as pins and needles, etc. can lodge anywhere in the GI tract and obstruct or perforate the bowel. A swallowed foreign body will go unnoticed until it produces symptoms. Foreign bodies that produce symptoms should be removed and usually requires surgery.
If you know your dog has ingested something he or she shouldn't have, call your veterinarian immediately!
Causes and Symptoms
When a foreign object is ingested by your dog, it can take between 10 - 24 hours to move through the entire digestive tract. Some objects, however, can take much longer, months - and even YEARS (read Mack's story by Alice Kable below)! Sometimes, objects are too big to progress through the digestive tract, and when this is the case, they cause an obstruction. If the foreign body has made it to the colon, it’s likely to pass – however, there’s still the possibility that it will be painful, especially if it is sharp (like a stick, landscape bark, plastic toy, etc.). In cases like this, you might need veterinary assistance.
It is important to follow this rule: never pull a foreign object that is protruding from your dog’s rectum! If still lodged inside, this can cause damage to the internal tissues.
Treatment if Your Dog Swallowed a Foreign Object
If your dog has swallowed a foreign object he or she may pass the object through the stomach and intestines without difficulty or the object can become stuck in the stomach or intestines causing major problems. Foreign objects may also pose a hazard to the soft tissues of the throat or stomach, or they may become lodged in the throat.
What You Should Do
If you suspect your dog has swallowed foreign object, or if you witnessed the event, gently check your dog’s mouth and throat to see if the object has lodged itself there and if it can be removed. If the object cannot be removed make sure your dog is breathing okay, try to keep your dog as still as possible, and immediately call your veterinarian or an emergency animal clinic for further instructions. If your dog is not breathing, immediately perform the canine Heimlich Maneuver.
If convinced that you dog has swallowed a foreign body try the 'Heimlich Maneuver', or abdominal thrust, which can dislodge the obstruction. Hang the dog upside down by the hind legs, or if the dog is too large, raise the hind quarters up as high as possible (maybe over the table). Then sharply 'thrust' the abdominal wall, to make the dog cough. If your dog has a narrow chest you can't do this try compressing the chest by placing your hands on either side of the chest wall.
This should only be attempted in an emergency and should not be sustained as there is the risk of causing abdominal injuries. But without immediate action the dog could die.
CLICK HERE - How to Perform the Heimlich Maneuver
What to Do if Your Pet Ingests Batteries
Is ingesting a battery just an annoyance…or a potentially serious problem?
Most batteries, in order to increase cell life, contain potassium hydroxide, which decreases corrosion. These batteries are usually called alkaline. Potassium hydroxide, however, is itself a corrosive agent that causes ulcerations and burns in the oral cavity, especially on the tongue, in the esophagus and on the skin.
Dogs are most commonly affected because they chew and puncture the battery casing. If the battery is chewed into pieces and the fluid swallowed, or if the battery case is cracked, allowing fluid to leak out, burns can occur in the mouth and esophagus. If the fluid leaks onto the skin, dermal burns can occur.
Did He, Or Didn't He?
If battery fluid has been ingested, the tips and sides of the tongue will usually appear red and raw, or will have a whitish-gray appearance due to dead skin. The dog will generally drool heavily and may vomit. He may be quiet or may whimper or cry due to pain. Although many animals will stop eating because of oral pain, some dogs will continue to eat, but may chew slowly and carefully. The dog may appear to have difficulty swallowing. These signs often are delayed and may not appear for up to 12 hours.
If a dog ingests a battery, it's important to know what kind it is and if it was ingested whole or chewed into pieces. When a battery is missing, and it is not known if the dog actually ingested it, an x-ray will show if pieces of the battery are in the stomach.
When ingestion is recent, the most important initial treatment is to dilute the corrosive fluid. Small quantities of milk—based on the weight of the animal—can be given. Large amounts may cause diarrhea. Vomiting should not be induced without consulting a veterinarian, because if the dog vomits the corrosive fluid, the damage to his throat can be significantly increased.
If pieces of the battery are present in the stomach, surgery may be required to remove the battery and prevent further leakage of the fluid. An intact battery, on the other hand, may obstruct the intestine, requiring surgical removal. Sometimes, if the battery is intact, a high-fiber “bulking” diet may aid in passage of the battery.
Dogs who develop clinical signs will require veterinary care consisting of antibiotics, pain medications, medication to protect the stomach and intestines and special diets. A veterinarian may recommend that a dog’s throat be examined endoscopically to access the damage to the esophagus. If severe scarring occurs, the dog may have difficulty eating and swallowing later on.
Charlotte Means, D.V.M., ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center
- Young dogs are more likely to chew items that are dangerous and have problems with swallowing objects, especially puppies. Dogs younger than 2 years old are more prone to swallowing objects.
- Vomiting is the primary sign that your dog has swallowed an object. The vomiting may be intermittent or nearly constant and it may include blood.
- Depending upon how far into your dog’s system the object has progressed, look to your dog’s mouth for signs that he has swallowed an object. You may see your dog foaming at the mouth, drooling and/or having increased salivation. A dog will also paw at the mouth and may start to go blue because they can't get enough oxygen.
- Diarrhea is another symptom the dog has swallowed an object that is lodged in his stomach. The diarrhea may be tinged with blood.
- A dog that has swallowed an object may refuse to eat or drink and could become lethargic. If your dog does eat, he is likely to immediately vomit up anything he consumes, including water. If this happens get to a veterinarian or emergency clinic IMMEDIATELY - you dog’s system is blocked.
- A dog that has swallowed an object may have a swollen abdomen. If you touch your dog’s abdomen, she may react with signs of pain such as biting or growling when touched and/or picked up.
- Your dog may develop a sudden fever if he has swallowed an object that has lodged in his stomach.
Keep Your Dog From Eating Things by Limiting Access to Tempting Items.
- Provide toys that are the right size and made of material that won’t easily break down into smaller, potentially dangerous pieces.
- All dogs are tempted to sample something they shouldn't at some time. It may not be a toy or a piece of an old shoe but any everyday item which may have gathered some food or an attractive smell could be the start of trouble.
- Be extra observant and never give him access to household garbage.
- When choosing a new dog toy make sure that it is too large for him to swallow and that any cat toys are well out of licking distance.
- Even a small piece of metal can tear the bowel and any length of elasticated material or cassette tape can act like a drawstring through the intestine.
Dogs can eat some very strange things. Why would a dog eat a fork or a toy arrow?
10-Inch Toy Arrow
Fish (with hook included)
2-Foot Long Stick
15-Inch Serrated Knife
Nine Golf Balls & A Bullet
Bottle Cap, Piece of Basketball, and 15 Baby Pacifiers
ehow.com, petwave.com, pethealthnetwork.com, ASPCA National Animal Poison Control Center
|Emma - by JeannieCO
It happened on the evening of October 15, 2012. I was sitting on the couch with Emma by side and she was enjoying her new toy. I had just taken a picture of her gnawing on it and when I looked at her a minute later a 3”x1” section was gone! She had chewed it off and swallowed it. It happened so fast! I was very concerned because it was a nylon doubled layered piece of material. I looked everywhere to make sure she indeed did swallow it and I couldn’t find anything. I kept a very close eye on her every day but she was acting just fine. We got lucky and she passed it on October 20th - 5 days later.
|Mack and Ruggles - by Alice Kable
Mack swallowed a piece of a Humunga Tongue toy. He and his brother Ruggles both got them for Christmas when they were 2 1/2. Mack no more than got his package open, started chewing on it, and some broke off. Both my husband and I were right there. We took away the toys from both boys, and I fished pieces out of Mack's mouth realizing that some pieces were missing. That night Mack had very loose poop with chunks of Humunga Tongue in it. Hindsight, I should have washed the poop off the pooped out pieces to see if they completed the toy. Instead, I figured it had all passed through. Over a year later Mack started throwing up everything, couldn't even keep water down. X-rays showed a foreign object in his colon. Surgery followed and Mack lost about 5" of his colon in January (a YEAR later) when he was 3 1/2. YES, a year later!!
Ruggles has swallowed many things - part of the cat's bedding, parts of dog beds, Beanie Baby, all resulting in a vet visit and a forced puke. His first shredding and swallowing was a good sized piece of towel. Before checking to make sure the shredded towel was all there, it was discarded. A couple of months later Ruggles got sick. His lab work was scary abnormal, his system was shutting down. His x-rays did not show a blockage. We took him to WSU Veterinarian School Hospital. Their x-rays detected a blockage. He had surgery and low and behold there was a big chunk of towel.
|Jack Daniels - by Jack Daniels
Read Jack Daniels' full story here: Jack Daniels’ Story
It all started when Jack began to vomit. One Sunday he was his usual self and then Monday late evening the vomiting started again. I spent the entire night checking up on him and taking him outside so he could puke on the grass. I took him in the morning to the Vet to have him checked out. All the blood work came back looking good. However, the x-rays they took did not. We were not sure what it is but it looked like he swallowed my daughter's training bra and we wouldn’t know until it was removed. All we were able to tell from the x-rays was that they were metal adjustment clips that bras have so I was thinking it’s my daughter's but wasn’t sure.
Jack had surgery to remove the object. His Vet said that they operated just in time. A little while longer and the foreign objects would have traveled into his intestines. The surgery would have been much more complicated as they would have had to cut that length of his intestine. I was able to stop by the Vet's office after they closed that day and luckily the doctor/surgeon was still there. He let me in to visit with Jack. We spoke for a while on the severity of what "could have" happened if I had waited just one more day. Before leaving he handed me a plastic zip lock with the contents he removed. It was a complete bra strap, along with what appears to be decorative fringes from a green throw blanket we had draped over our couch!
We had seen the torn throw blanket the week prior but did not realize there were fringes missing! These types of threads, (as explained by the Doc) are extremely dangerous because once they travel out of the stomach and into the intestines, they begin to entangle themselves onto the intestine making it almost impossible to remove even with surgery. The intestine would have to be cut and re-sewn and he said that chances of survival for that type of operation are very low.
| Lola – by Sweetpeasmom2008
Lola swallowed a AA battery in October, 2012! I saw her stick it in her mouth and when I started walking towards her to get it out she swallowed it. I took her right away to the bathroom and made her throw up. Since then have read an article stating you shouldn't do that. The only thought in my mind was to get it out anyway I could. I only saw her eat one but I took her to the vet to make sure she didn't swallow another one and to make sure she didn't have any damage from it leaking. I put the battery in a bag and took it with me for the vet to look at. When I got there they took x-rays to make sure she didn't have anything else in her belly and that came back all clear. The battery didn't leak so we got lucky! The vet told us that if the battery leaks it will cause permanent damage and can be fatal so put your batteries up high and keep away from your bully!
| Diezel - by DavidH (Diezel’s owners are a friend of David’s and Diezel was formally his Little Lady)
Read Diezel's full story here: Diezel’s Story
It started on a Monday when Diezel’s mama called us and said they came home from work and Diezel's pen was covered in diarrhea and she was vomiting. We told her she could have a bad stomach bug, or maybe an obstruction and to take her to their vet if she was not better in the morning. They took her in the next morning and their vet took an x-ray to look for an obstruction and didn't see anything. He said she was dehydrated and gave her an IV and said to leave her there over night. Wednesday their vet said he wanted to keep her another night to watch her as she was still not eating. He gave her some medicine for her stomach and sent her home that Thursday evening. She still didn’t want to eat and still had diarrhea so they took her back to their vet on Friday. He did some tests and said he is sending her blood work off and the results would not be back until Monday, but he thinks she has kidney failure. Diezel's mama called my wife and was crying and told her what he said. I told my wife we are taking Diezel to our bully vet on Saturday for a second opinion. My wife called our vet to give him a heads up and he asked her what their vet had checked and we did not know the answers to his questions - we were not sure what exactly their vet did.
When they adopted Diezel from us about 1 1/2 years prior, we suggested they use our vet because he is an excellent bully vet. They had a family friend who was a vet and they wanted to use him instead. When my wife took Diezel to see our Vet he did a kidney test on her and it came back fine. He said all her symptoms point to an obstruction so he took an x-ray and saw a shadow in her stomach that just did not look right so he said he is going to run a scope down to find out what it is was. Diezel indeed had an obstruction in her small intestine and surgery was performed. After surgery our vet told my wife, “you just saved this little girl’s life for bringing her here as she would not have lived much longer with this obstruction in her because it had been there so long.”
Here is a pic of what Diezel had in her. It is green and squishy and some sort of toy. Our vet monitored Diezel for the next few days to make sure there is no leakage and that she started to eat and feel better. Had Diezel had to wait until that Monday for the test results to come back from our friend's vet she would be dead! Diezel was a very lucky little girl!
Please watch what is on the floor and what they have in their mouths, as they will eat anything. Like our vet said, "if they have diarrhea and vomiting for several days and not eating, you can pretty much bet they have an obstruction."
|Vegas - by KMarino
I work in an industry that requires my hands to be in water a lot. One night I had a white moisturizer glove and I put my lotion on and wore the white gloves to bed. I noticed it missing 3 days after Vegas threw it up. The bad thing was it was filled with Aquaphor so after he threw it up he had diarrhea the next few days from the lotion. He ate, drank and pooped normal until he threw it up.
|Tonka – by Meggs19
Tonka likes to eat socks - so far 5 of them. One day he threw up and there was a sock. We’ve tried to be very careful after that but somehow he keeps finding them! I think he figured out how to get into my laundry bag. On another occasion he threw up not one, but TWO of my little footie socks at once. Then another time I was getting ready to go to the gym and I had my tennis shoes sitting on a stool and my socks were laying on top. I turned around and noticed a sock was gone. I had my back turned for two seconds! He pooped that sock out. Another time, he went on the bed and took one of my dress socks off the nightstand that once again, I had set there for two seconds. This time it was a knee high dress sock and I was worried that it would get stuck since it was so long and stretchy. We tried to vomit him with peroxide but he wasn't sensitive to it. He finally threw up half an hour later but no sock. We took him to the emergency vet and they gave him the shot that makes him throw everything up and out came the sock.
Tonka has also eaten many pieces of toy and his blankets/bedding. He also ate some plastic chunks off his black kennel liner tray. That scared me as those are sharp pieces of plastic! The vet said our best bet was to bulk his stools since vomiting wouldn't be safe. I finally started to see little chunks of black plastic in his poop a week or so later. I was still scared about the pieces of his bedding/blankies that he has torn into since I haven't seen those pass. He still might have some black plastic pieces in him or they might have all passed by now. Scary! I sure hope so. He is eating and drinking and pooping normally.
|Dozer and Blossom - by Vikinggirl
Both my Bulldogs have swallowed stuff. Neither have had to have surgery to remove items. Dozer has had 3 incidences:
1. The first time Dozer swallowed a sparerib bone right in front of us. We were eating Chinese food and he was whining to go out so my husband put his plate down on the couch and let him out of his crate to let him outside. He jumped up on the couch so quick and grabbed the bone. He seemed ok but the next morning he had vomited so I didn't feed him just in case there was an obstruction. I took him to the vet and they x-rayed him but found nothing. The vet said to watch him for diarrhea or vomiting as these are signs of an obstruction and told us that that his stomach acid would probably break it down or he would pass it.
2. The second time he was at the vet’s office. Dozer had had his neuter operation and had gauze and a bandage on his forepaw where his IV site was. The vet put him in the recovery cage and when she checked on him 5 minutes later his gauze and bandage were gone. She searched the cage and surroundings but didn't find anything. She said he must have eaten it. We were sent home with 4 cans of fiber food and told to watch for the signs such as diarrhea, vomiting or not eating. We were told to feed him this fiber food 1 Tbsp. every one to two hours, she said this would help push down the bandage through his digestive tract. Four days later nothing passed but soupy poops. A week later, he was circling around looking for a place to poop, he seemed to be having problems going. Then he finally pooped it all came out wrapped around the gauze.
3. The third time was when he wouldn't poop one morning. I was getting ready for work when my son yells up, “Mom, Mom your dog just crapped in the crate!!” Dozer never does that! "That's not poop," I said! It looked like he was sick. Dozer had thrown up my husband’s white sweat sock with his food all around it!
Blossom has only had one incident. We fed them in the morning and took them out for their duties and crated them. We were upstairs when my husband heard plastic bags rustling downstairs. He said, “are the dogs in the garbage”? I said, “no they are in the crate.” He went downstairs to check and Blossom was in the midst of devouring 6 or 7 bags of bulk barn penny candy that where in the magazine rack. We have a double crate with 2 doors and he forgot to lock the second door. There was gummy worms, gummy bears, jelly tots, maltesers, sour keys and sour gummy candies. My husband caught her still in the process of inhaling the candies as he came downstairs. I picked her up and took her to the vet right away as I was afraid of the chocolate she had eaten. The vet put 2 drops of something in her eye and within less than 5 minutes and she threw up 5 bowls of penny candy - all whole and undigested. When we brought her to the vet her stomach was really distended and full of candy. She was fine after that and she didn't even have an upset stomach or diarrhea that day.
|Samson – by Abel Gallardo
September 24, 2012 was the day Samson stopped eating and became ill. Samson quit eating and after being tested for just about everything by an ER vet and also by our other Bully’s vet nothing was found to be wrong with him. He’d been tested for everything from Parvo to Pancreatitis. He had x-rays and even a full abdominal x-ray done. No blockage was found. I was told that if he swallowed any type of it foreign object it wouldn’t show up on an x-ray. The vets wanted to do exploratory surgery and I was like what!? Both vets had sat down with us and said we should be prepped for the long haul with him. They both said, “He might be the type of Bully that every owner fears due to living up to the health challenges of the breed.” The vets’ comments were a bit rough on my family. We had even thought a yellow jacket might have stung Samson when it all started as he was limping a bit but that passed and he was back to normal.
September 26th - Samson hadn't eaten in 2 days now. He did start drinking some water but had no interest in food. He was pooping ok and we didn't see anything weird in it.
September 27th - Another day passed and Samson still hasn't eaten. He loves being on leash and walking but with him not drinking or eating we didn’t want to take him walking and risk dehydrating him. He didn’t appear to be in pain and we had been giving him ice which helped keep him entertained a bit. I was thinking of giving him some ground beef and rice mash.
September 28th - Sampson loved his ground beef, rice and green bean concoction. I gave him about ½ c and he inhaled it. I knew he was starving but for some reason he was now turned off by his regular food. Another thing I checked was his regular dry kibble to make sure it hadn’t spoiled but it was fine. It was like he was repulsed by the smell or feel of dry dog food. He would only eat frozen green beans and the beef rice mix. Something just wasn’t right with him though. Zoey was doing great on all the exact same things (food, supplements, treatment, water, etc.). The vets were stumped and recommended putting him to sleep. They thought he might have some chronic conditions and recommended surgery to explore. We we're sad and frustrated.
September 29th - I gave him a bit of dry food to see if he was better and that could have turned him off of eating again. I went back to the ground beef and rice that might to see if that changes anything. He still had no fever. Samson’s had a much different temperament than Zoey by now. She was very active and energetic and always wanting attention and Samson was very very mellow - almost melancholy. He would play but mostly just layed around. Noticing the even mellower borderline depressed type behavior he had set up that red alert.
October 1st - We decided to take Samson back to the vet as he had gone another 2 days with no food and he was really looking bad, getting really thin and starting to shed badly. This time we were taking Samson to his original vet - the one that has been seeing him from the day we got him. He hadn't seen him yet - only the ER vets that saw him so far. His head had started shaking and we thought he was having a seizure (Idiopathic Head Tremors). The vet wanted to do exploratory surgery (a scope up his intestine or explore all his organs). They say it’s a general incision and would explore his entire digestive system. Samson's regular said he likely had a foreign matter in his stomach (like a towel, sock, stuffing from a chew toy, etc.). He was concerned that since he hasn't passed anything that it's going to require surgery.
October 4th - Samson had surgery!! What they took out if his stomach and intestines was frightening! It was a combination of string, rope, rubber and plastic!! Poor little guy was dying. He is 100 times better now. We were blessed to find this vet who has saved our little guy.
|Jessie - by Desertskybulldogs
I took Jesse & Mandy out for their afternoon potty. Jesse started doing a #2 and she seemed to be struggling a bit. Then I saw that she has a "dangling" poopy. Well, I ran to get a couple paper towels real quick so I could pull the dangling poopy off, cuz now she was running trying to get rid of it.
When I returned, she was trying to poop again, and the 'dangler' started to get longer! So I assisted her to pull it out, and low and behold it just kept coming out!!! It turned out it was a very long piece of cloth from her bedding that she liked to suck on. I noticed it was torn the day before but I had no idea she ripped off a whole section of it!!!
Needless to say I have taken her bedding away.
|Usko - by RiiSi
When Usko was a puppy he almost choked on a dried pig’s snout. I wasn't looking and I knew something was wrong because he had already peed on the floor and his tongue was totally blue! He was really gagging for his life! Luckily I didn't freak out at the moment and was able to act and pulled out the piece from his throat. That was the scariest moment of my life and believe me I freaked out after. I still get tears in my eyes just thinking what could of happened.
|Samson – by TessaAndSamson
Samson chewed off the top third of a Kong when he was a puppy. He was probably about 6-7 months old. I didn't think much of it at the time and figured it was around the house somewhere until 2 - 3 months later when he threw it up. Then in 2010 when he was 4 years old, he swallowed a squeaky toy. THANK GOD my fiancé Dave saw him do it because the vet said there was no way he would have been able to throw it up or pass it. We were all puzzled as to how he was even able to swallow it. Surgery was required to remove it and the incision that was made on his belly was quite large. Then a couple months ago while we were staying at my mom's house dog sitting for her Samson threw up a small fleece cat toy. He had to have eaten that while we were there because we don't have cats but my mom does.