What To Do When Your Dog Swallows Something They Shouldn’t?

By May 23, 2019 Uncategorized

What To Do When Your Dog Swallows Something They Shouldn't? | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

Puppies are known to be curious explorers, just like human babies.

With exploring comes eating – and often that include things they shouldn’t. After all, dogs use their mouths to interact with the world far more than we do.

If you’re a puppy parent, it’s a very good idea to be prepared by doing some advance research, because it’s almost guaranteed that at some point you’ll be surprised at what your pet scarfs down.

Preventive measures can go a long way toward avoiding potentially invasive veterinary surgical services.

Read on to find out more.

What Might Your Dog Have Swallowed?

If you’re out for a walk, it’s entirely possible you’ll know what your pet has ingested.

If you weren’t sure what it was, start by trying to figure out what your dog may have swallowed through deduction. For example: what’s missing from the coffee table? Is there anything left in your dog’s mouth?

Which of your children is crying because they can’t find their favourite toy?

Figuring this out will help you to plan your next steps.

Symptoms Of Foreign Objects In Your Dog’s Tummy

Sometimes, you won’t even know they’ve swallowed something until you notice they’re acting or looking unlike themselves.

For instance, if your dog has swallowed a battery, they will experience lead poisoning, and will begin displaying symptoms that include hyperactivity, loss of appetite, vomiting, seizures and teeth grinding.

Animals who have swallowed copper coins will often have similar symptoms as lead, but zinc toxicity from coins looks different.

For this one, they can have bloody urine, diarrhea, vomiting, jaundice, pale gums, and loss of appetite.

If your pet has a distended belly, or has ongoing vomiting, it might be that an object is caught in the stomach or intestines, causing a blockage (partial or complete).

What NOT To Do

One of the most important things you can know is what NOT to do in case of an emergency.

After all, you don’t want to cause more damage to your poor pet, even as you try to help them.

1. Don’t Pull On String

String – or ribbon, thread, pantyhose, tree tinsel or fishing line – can be very dangerous to pets, especially since they sometimes have objects like sharp lures or needles attached to them.

Because these long objects can get wrapped around other objects, pulling on them can cause a clog.

Sharp objects attached to string can puncture organs or cause a tear.

Also, deliberately pulling a ribbon out through a dog’s rectum can end up gathering a large portion of the intestines into an accordion, causing complications.

Blockages, constrictions or tears can cause peritonitis, which usually leads to death.

However, if you can identify there’s an issue, then help your vet determine the source of the problem, it’s likely the vet can clear up the issue.

In some situations, additional surgery is needed to repair intestines, but these cases generally have very good prognoses.

2. Don’t Induce Vomiting After 2 Hours Or For Sharp Objects

Vomiting is a great way to remove foreign objects, but that only works as long as the item is still in the stomach.

It usually takes two hours to process a stomach full of food, so after that time, there’s no point trying – the object will be in the intestines, and you’ll just make your dog go through the unpleasant experience of vomiting for nothing.

The other time you don’t want to induce vomiting is if there’s a chance of a fishing hook or needle being attached, in which case you want to feed your pet a meal (to cushion the sharp item) and bring them immediately to the vet.

what to do when you dog swallows something bad | Bickford Park Animal Hospital | Toronto Veterinary Clinic & Pet Care

3. Don’t Wait If They Swallowed Something Harmful

That leads me to the most important tip: don’t hesitate to have them treated.

There can be very serious complications with most of the objects listed above, so it’s important to get them to the vet as soon as possible.

Similar to an emergency human doctor, the quicker the doctors can intervene, the better the outcome for you and your puppy.

What TO Do

Now we’ve handled the seriously scary topics, let’s look at what you can do to avoid the problem and how to help your pet through it.

1. Let It Pass If It’s Small And Harmless

If it’s not in the section above – toxic or a blockage risk due to size or shape – then the best course of action is pretty much to let it pass.

Small objects that flow through the intestines easily enough can be left to nature, though you may want to keep an eye on their bowel movements to make sure the object finally is expelled.

Feeding your pet a bulky meal of largely dry food will help to buffer and propel along little foreign objects.

Food also activates digestive enzymes, which can soften things that are organic in nature.

2. Keep Hazardous Things Out Of Reach

It’s a good idea to get down on your hands and knees and look at your home from your puppy’s perspective – what stands out or looks interesting?

Similar to when you have a human baby, you’ll want to proof your house.

Puppy-proofing involves putting anything small enough to go into their mouths out of their reach, whether they’re on all fours or up on their hind legs.

3. Have Only Puppy-Proof Toys

There are careful and ethical toy makers out there who ensure that they don’t create or sell anything that can be chewed or broken into small pieces.

Similar to children’s toys, pet toys need to be designed to be safe, despite the wear and tear they will experience.

Keep an eye out when you’re buying your puppy presents, and head for the toys that are too large to be swallowed or that are a solid piece that can’t be broken.

Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital

Many pet parents find themselves surprised at how often their puppies swallow things they shouldn’t.

Knowing what to do in these situations can help you guide your reaction, as well as know when it really is time to hit the pet hospital.

Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital with any emergencies or if you need guidance in dealing with a blockage in your pet.

We’ll be happy to help you out and ensure your pet is comfortable once more.

In yours and your pet’s health,

Dr. Helen Foster, DVM
Bickford Park Animal Hospital
807 Bloor St W,
Toronto, ON M6G 1L8


Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.