It’s a talent to make the most productive sword swallower jealous. Our dogs have an uncanny ability to swallow dangerous objects, such as knives and sticks, and still act as if nothing was wrong. What drives these canine daredevils to eat such risky items? The Labrador retriever mix trotted through the door of the hospital wagging her tail and generally happy to see everyone. Her owners were concerned because she had a brief history of productive and non-productive vomiting and had recently stopped eating. The pictures below show what the veterinarian was able to retrieve from her throat. Believe it or not, this pup walked out of the hospital the next morning, still wagging her tail.
Ask your family veterinarian to talk about what he or she has found inside the stomachs of dogs and you will be in for an afternoon of stories. For a variety of reasons, our canine pets seem to enjoy gobbling up the oddest things! Recently, a leading manufacturer of veterinary x-ray products held a contest to find the oddest objects. Some of the winners included another Labrador with 14 golf balls in his stomach, a Boxer with 208 rocks of various sizes, a Pit Bull puppy who swallowed an 11 inch steak knife, and a Pug with expensive taste. The 7-month old pup had swallowed his owner’s 2-carat diamond ring! The winner of the dog category though went to the Samoyed who had 8 batteries of differing sizes, from a “D” cell all the way down to AAA, a plastic raccoon, 7 rocks, a marble, 2 broken light bulbs, machine parts, and a variety of staples.
Most amazingly, from the follow up reports, everyone of these pets has done fine and most left their veterinarian’s hospital the next day wagging their tails and anxious to head home.
What perplexes many owners, and many veterinarians, is why the dogs are eating these objects in the first place. Some items can be obvious, for example, pieces of glass from a broken spaghetti sauce jar could easily end up in the abdomen of a dog hurrying to finish off the tasty treat. Others, such as the sticks and rocks, are less obvious as to why they were eaten and even more curious is how many of these dogs swallow items without damaging themselves and why they continue the habit. In an Indiana veterinary emergency hospital, one dachshund had emergency exploratory surgery 4 times during his 12 years of life!
Keeping the voracious dog from eating all kinds of things can be a challenge in itself as well. To keep your pet from making an emergency trip to the animal hospital, veterinarians recommend the following:
- Keep all garbage behind a secure door or cabinet.
- Use baby gates or closed doors to create “off-limits” areas for your dog.
- Monitor your dog while walking. Many pets will find irresistible treats, such as corn cobs and walnuts, while enjoying the day in the park.
Being proactive and picking up leftover food, utensils, and other items after eating can help to curb the dog’s desire as well.
Dogs aren’t the only pets who will exhibit this type of behavior. Cats are extremely fond of string like objects and will often present after a day or two of vomiting with what veterinarian’s term a “linear foreign body” on the x-rays. Cats need to be watched with rubber bands, bread ties, tinsel, or any object that can be batted around and swallowed. Exotic pets, such as lizards, frogs, and snakes are not immune either. One of the more amusing entries in the x-ray contest was a snake who had swallowed 2 light bulbs whole.
While some of the cases in this article are amusing and the stories have all ended happily, it is important to remember that these pets underwent painful surgeries. Their owner’s likely suffered anguish and worry as their dogs were at the veterinary hospital and the retrieval of these items likely cost more than $1000 at each occurrence.