I can tell you plenty of first-hand stories about dogs swallowing items they aren’t supposed to. My Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Buddy, is like a vacuum cleaner.
Two of Buddy’s strangest and near fatal swallowing episodes included the eyeball off of a toy ostrich and a pointed piece of wood he picked up on the street. He needed two surgeries to remove the foreign objects from his intestines, and the medical bills came to $3,000.
Here are some of the strangest items that pets have swallowed with tips from vets for how to prevent and remedy the dangerous habits of gulping pooches.
He Swallowed What?!? Owners Share Stories
Dog owner Jennifer Webb, a cook from Virginia Beach, got her own scare when her Blue Heeler mix, Akira ate a reel of music tape from a broken cassette that was on the ground. "I took her to the dog park later that day, and when she pooped only the end came out," said Webb. "I had to crouch down and pull the whole thing out inch by inch. It was about 15 feet of cassette tape. Needless to say, I got some pretty strange looks from people at the park.”
Founder of Remember Me Rescue, Michele DeSanti, said her Dachshund-Cavalier mix, Elvis, retrieved a used tampon from the garbage. “I rushed him to the vet because I knew it was possible that it could expand inside of him," she said. "They gave him something to make him regurgitate and told me how often that happens.” Michele rescued Elvis on his last day before he was to be euthanized. “The poor fella had been returned to the shelter twice and was only nine months old," she said. "Now, at eight, he sticks to removing the hearts out of his squeaky toys but no longer swallows them. He’s a little nuts and guards everything including that tampon.”
Kim Elliot Mono, a director of graduate studies from Hamden, Conn., said his Golden Retriever gained some fame from swallowing a 36-inch leather belt. “Tucker made the Vets Newsletter for weird things ingested," she said. "I had no clue the belt was eaten until he dropped the buckle in my lap. She took him to the vet for x-rays but luckily no surgery was needed. “We’ve learned to treat him like a toddler. We have locks on closet and cabinet doors, don”t leave anything on the stove, counter tops or tables and we keep the bedroom doors closed. Funny thing is he never goes into the trashcan.”
But, Tucker’s bad habit of swallowing things he’s not supposed to doesn’t stop there. “Tucker ate a family size box of chocolate Hostess cupcakes and threw up all the empty wrappers. He was fine but my youngest son got a lecture,” said Elliot Mono. He also ate a ThermaCare heat wrap.“He found it in my son’s room,” said Elliot Mono. “I had no clue he ate it until I saw all that black dirt-like stuff get upchucked. I called poison control immediately. Poison control is my best friend. I pay the extra fee with HomeAgain so all calls to poison control are free.”
Vets Weigh In
Dr. Daniel Spector, DVM, Diplomate ACVS, said the most common objects swallowed by the pets he sees are “dog and cat toys, and children’s toys; clothing including socks and underwear; string or yarn, large pits from fruit, corn cobs, and coins.” He also cites prescription drugs, grapes, raisins, scented oils, marijuana, onions, garlic, rat poison and moldy food as common ingested items.
Dr. Marc Siebert, of the Heart of Chelsea Animal Hospital in New York City said, “The most commonly swallowed items are tampons, condoms, underwear and pantyhose. The biggest culprits for “foreign object ingestion” are tennis balls, dog toys and bones.”
When asked about the most harmful household items, he said, “Chocolate is toxic to many breeds. Other poisonous items include lilies and gum that contains xylitol.”
Signs to Go to the Vet Immediately
“If a dog is lethargic, vomiting, or has any facial swelling, those are signs that you should get help right away,” said Siebert. “Diarrhea, especially with vomiting, accompanied by a lack of interest in food, are serious signs as well. The ASPCA has a pet poison hotline. You have to pay a fee to get an assessment from them but it’s worth it if your pet ingests something and you’re not sure whether it’s poisonous.”
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