We all want our dogs to swallow the right things, like medication and healthy dog food. However, if your dog swallows everything that they can get their chompers on, you may shudder at the mere thought of paper clips, open rubbish bins, and even loose socks. How can you know when something that your dog gobbled up is harmful or cause for concern? And what should you do in the case that your dog swallows something dangerous?
In this article, we’ll cover the more common concerns that Owners have about their dog swallowing foreign objects. While we can give some tips and insights, it’s always best to contact your vet for professional advice. And if your dog is showing signs of distress, get them to the vet as soon as possible.
Why is it so dangerous when your dog swallows foreign objects?
Dogs can safely digest many things that would make us humans turn green. When it comes to small objects, though, we should never assume that their strong digestive system can handle it. This can include pieces of plastic, metal, bone, or even string.
In reality, objects like these may cause internal bleeding or blockage, or expose your dog to toxic ingredients. Choking is another cause for concern when a dog swallows something like plastic or fibre. In worst-case scenarios, dogs who don’t receive treatment in time can die as a result of these complications.
Because of this risk, Owners must know the warning signs and what to do if their dog swallows something harmful.
Signs that your dog swallowed a foreign object
In general, once dogs have swallowed something out of the ordinary, they will respond in some noticeable ways. If you see any of the following symptoms in your pup, whether you saw them ingest a foreign object or not, make sure to reach out to your vet for instructions:
- Repeated vomiting
- Excessive drooling
- Noticeable stress or discomfort
- Whining and panting
- Diarrhoea, that may or may not contain blood
- Bloating around the abdomen
Unfortunately, our dogs can’t tell us what they’ve been eating or where they’re experiencing pain. That’s why, in cases in which dogs are showing these signs of distress, a vet may need to do an x-ray to assess the situation and danger.
What to do when your dog swallows something in your presence
Now, let’s say that you watch your dog swallow a foreign object, but it’s too early for them to show symptoms. Maybe they tore apart the packaging on a new plush toy when you stepped into another room. Or, maybe you found your dog snout-first in the rubbish bin, and you can see they’ve swallowed some chicken bones.
In these different cases, the potential damage will vary. Your dog gobbling down a tiny piece of soft plastic won’t be as concerning as an entire chicken wing. But the good news is that because it happened in your presence, you can act quickly.
First, assess whether your dog is experiencing any kind of distress, while checking their mouth for leftover plastic or other materials. If they are showing symptoms of a problem, taking them to the vet quickly can minimise damage.
If your pup swallowed something small and they’re not showing any signs of distress, you can call your vet for some advice. They may have you monitor your pup or bring them in for a full assessment.
Things not to do when your dog swallows a foreign object
We should note that some online sources will suggest that you induce vomiting in your dog, especially in a short timeframe after your dog swallows the item. However, only a vet should attempt this, as the object could cause more damage on its departure through the esophagus.
It’s also very important that, in the case of your dog swallowing something like string or yarn, you do not attempt to pull it out. The material may already be tangled up in your pup’s digestive system and will require special care when removing.
How will your vet help after your dog swallows a foreign object?
There are a few paths that your vet may take once they assess the situation.
On the one hand, if the foreign object was small, flexible, or otherwise not immediately harmful to your dog, they may recommend observation. This could signify that your vet expects you pup to pass the object without too much fuss. Still, you’ll need to be with your dog to make sure that they don’t develop signs of discomfort.
The other possible scenario would be that your vet determines, either from x-rays or bloodwork, that the object will need to be removed to prevent blockage or further damage. Depending on the situation, this may be done surgically or non-surgically. If the situation is particularly severe, parts of the digestive tract may need to be operated on or even removed to ensure a successful healing process.
No matter which plan your vet determines is necessary for your dog, they will give you some advice or a treatment plan to help your pup get back on their paws.
How to make sure your dog swallows only good things in the future
Dog Owners often feel guilty after their dog swallows a foreign object. But the truth is, it can happen even to the most watchful of Owners! While you may choose to keep a closer eye on your food-loving friend in the future, a few simple changes can also put your mind at ease:
- Invest in some indestructible toys. No toy is completely indestructible, but toys made of durable materials will lower the risk of your pup swallowing fabrics or plastics.
- Keep counters clean, especially for taller pups.
- Address any unhealthy chewing habits. It’s possible that your pup is chowing down on indigestibles as a result of separation anxiety or a medical condition. Check with your vet to rule out some common reasons that dogs swallow foreign objects.
- Provide them with a healthy, satisfying nutrition plan. Some doggos chew out of boredom or hunger, but a Mad Paws Dinner Bowl plan can keep them satisfied and even mentally stimulated. Pair these nutritious meals with plenty of exercise and you may see a dip in the chewing habits!
Your vet will have the final say, but you’re the first line of defense!
Now that you know more about why your dog swallows foreign objects, you’re better prepared to keep your pupper safe!