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Your Dog Devoured Something He Shouldn’t Have… Now What?

Veterinarian Reviewed by Dr. Janice Huntingford, DVM on September 30, 2018
Posted in Parent Help

Dogs are curious, and they love to gnaw on things. Whether it’s a bone, a toy or your brand-new shoes, Fido has probably thought about putting it in its mouth at least once. Unfortunately, you’re not always going to be able to stop your dog from chewing on and eating things it shouldn’t.

It’s extremely common for pet owners to bring their dog into the vet because it swallowed something it shouldn’t have. While we may not understand why dogs feel the desire to eat weird things, it appears to be in their nature—there is a very long list of strange items dogs have swallowed.

The important part about treating a dog that ate something it shouldn’t is to be prepared before it happens. When you have a plan and are ready to take action the minute you discover something is wrong, you can increase your dog’s chance of a full and speedy recovery.

What to do immediately after the gulp

In many cases, pet owners are in the same room as their dogs and turn away for a second, giving their dog just enough time to sneak something into its mouth. If you turn around and notice your dog is eating something strange, there’s a good chance it’ll be swallowed before you can speak. If this happens, you’ll want to quickly determine what it is your pet just ate.

Examine your surroundings and try to identify what was in your pet’s mouth. Did it just steal a piece of chicken off the dinner plate, or did it swallow a rubber toy? Determine whether the devoured item was a toxic food or substance or something other than food. Then, get ready to call the vet.

Toxic foods and substances

There are a lot of things that are toxic to dogs—from your favorite milk chocolate bar to the insecticide you sprayed on the lawn. Toxic substances can wreak havoc on your dog’s body. They can cause chemical burns in the mouth and throat, cause organ failure and even lead to death if your dog is not treated quickly.

Some of the most common toxic substances that dogs find their way into include:

  • Medications
  • Insecticides
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Toxic plants
  • Human food (like chocolate)

If your dog ate something toxic, it may exhibit signs like vomiting, diarrhea, shaking, trouble breathing and unusual behavior. Some dogs don’t begin showing signs right away, though.

If you notice your dog eating a toxic food or substance, get your pet away from the substance immediately. Put your dog in another room and give it a quick once-over to see if it is exhibiting symptoms. Next, call your veterinarian or an emergency vet to explain the situation and any symptoms your dog is displaying.

Although you may be tempted, never induce vomiting in your dog unless directed by a vet. Some substances can actually cause more damage if they come back up, and inducing vomiting can be damaging to your dog’s body.

Follow your vet’s instructions to get your dog back to health. Then, give your dog some detoxifying supplements once the toxic substance has been safely removed to help it get back to its normal, healthy self.

Foreign objects

We wish our dogs would stick to eating foods, but there’s a good chance your pooch will ingest something that isn’t edible at some point. This might include coins, toys and even feces.

When your dog swallows something that isn’t food, your biggest concern will likely be about a blockage. Blockages can occur anywhere along the digestive tract—from esophagus to colon, but they are most common in the intestines. Blockages can lead to death if they are not treated.

If you notice your dog giving off theses signs of intestinal blockages, you’ll want to take it to an emergency vet as soon as possible.

  • Gagging
  • Vomiting
  • Choking
  • Inability to breathe
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Swollen belly

Once at the vet, the professional with take an x-ray to examine the object and its course through your dog’s digestive system. What is done about the object will be determined by what it is. Your dog might be able to pass the object on its own, might vomit it up or may need to have surgery to have the object removed.

If the object is able to pass naturally, it might take between 10 and 24 hours to pass through the digestive system. Monitor your dog during this time to ensure there are no signs of blockages or another problem.

Prevent your pooch from devouring

In order to avoid a scary trip to the vet to have your pup’s stomach pumped or an object removed, take steps to prevent your dog from getting into things it shouldn’t to begin with. Pick up small objects and toys laying around the house and keep human food out of reach. Also, keep a close eye on your dog, especially if you’re outside where the dog can get into rocks, sticks and insecticides.

Read also: Getting Familiar with Worms and How They Affect Your Pet’s Health

Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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