Your Dog Ate Something She Shouldn’t Have: Now What?
Dogs get into a lot of things they’re not supposed to, and those often go right into their mouths before you know it. Sometimes those items pass right through your pup. Other times, a swallowed object can cause serious issues. Here’s what you need to know when your dog eats a foreign object and how to get her to pass it.
Foreign Objects Dogs Shouldn’t Eat
Dogs will try to eat just about anything, and most food is okay for them. (Check out our list of safe snacks here!) But there are others items they seem to go for more often and definitely shouldn’t consume. Here’s a list of the most common ones:
- Toilet paper
- Tennis balls
- Dog, cat, or children’s toys
- Chicken bones
- Food wrappers
If you have a dog, you now this list is by no means exhaustive! The amount of things a curious canine can get into can be endless, so take precautions to keep such items out of reach, and choose toys that are safe for your pup.
How to Tell If Your Dog Ate a Foreign Object
If you didn’t witness your dog eat a foreign object, two things can happen:
1. You notice it when she passes it on her own – Items that move through the digestive track on their own tend to be out in 10 to 24 hours, but some can take months to pass. Certain objects can make it to the colon but then have difficulty coming out.
2. OR, she starts to show signs of having eaten something she shouldn’t have.
There are plenty of signs that your dog ate something foreign and it’s causing an obstruction in her stomach or intestines. Vomiting is extremely common, but so is:
- Abdominal pain
- Not eating
- Behavioral changes
Your dog might guard her stomach due to tenderness or pain.
If your dog is passing the item and you can see it sticking out of her anus, do not pull on the item. It could cause damage to her intestines or colon.
What to Do If Your Dog Ate a Foreign Object
If you saw your dog eat something she wasn’t supposed to or you suspect she did, don’t hesitate: Take her to the veterinarian right away. The sooner you get there, the better chance your vet can remove the item before it causes more issues or before surgery becomes necessary. If it is after your veterinarian’s regular hours, call an emergency veterinarian. Describe the situation, and ask for advice. They may ask you to come in.
When you arrive, your vet will take X-rays and blood work to see exactly where the item is and if your dog’s health has been negatively affected by the foreign body.
The next step depends on where the item is in your dog’s digestive system. In some cases where the foreign body is still in the stomach, the vet may induce vomiting or remove it through an endoscopy. Never try these at home; leave them to a professional who can care for your pet before, during, and after the procedure.
If the item has passed the stomach and is in the intestines, your dog may require surgery.
If the foreign object reaches the colon but still hasn’t passed, your veterinarian may suggest fluid therapy, laxatives, or an enema.
How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Foreign Objects
It can be tough to keep your dog out of everything or to keep your eye on her at all times, but there are simple steps you can take to prevent an emergency. Prevention is the best way to help your dog stay safe!
Monitor Her Toys
Be careful about what you present to your pup as a toy. Don’t give her things she can swallow easily, and keep her play style in mind. For instance, if your pup likes stuffed animals but tends to rip out and eat the stuffing or eyes, it may be time to stop buying those types of toys. Find safe objects that she won’t destroy or eat, and monitor her as she plays.
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Dog-Proof Your House
Dog-proofing is similar to baby-proofing and just means finding ways to keep your dog out of things she shouldn’t be in. It could include locking access to cabinets, keeping the garbage in a closet or other location, placing smaller items out of reach of her mouth, and never leaving objects on the floor. Put away shoes, socks, children’s toys, and tempting items.
If you saw your dog swallow something she shouldn’t have, you suspect she did, or she’s experiencing the symptoms of an obstruction, don’t wait to see if she will pass the foreign body on her own. Take her to a veterinary hospital as soon as possible to avoid complications.
You can reach Cinco Ranch Veterinary Hospital at 281-693-7387, or visit us at 2519 Cinco Park Place in Katy, Texas. We provide emergency care whenever our clinic is open. If we are closed when you call, we’ll refer you to a quality veterinary emergency center that is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learn more about our hospital services here.