Dog Swallows Non Food Items
Tasha, our five-year-old Lhaso Apso, recently swallowed a baby bottle nipple, and it became lodged in her intestines. Our veterinarian had to remove it surgically. Is there anything we can do to make her quit eating small things around the house? This really scares us.
Many pet owners share your concern. Some dogs will relentlessly chew up and swallow anything they can find around the house. Paper products usually will pass harmlessly through the digestive system. But many things dogs can swallow can cause serious trouble.
Dogs with this habit may chew objects as part of a play ritual before swallowing them; the chewing at least breaks down the object and makes it more likely to pass through the digestive tract. Small objects that can be swallowed without chewing are the most dangerous especially if they are made of hard plastic or rubber as they can’t slide very easily through the intestines. Chewers like Tasha, for example, may go for plastic toys, balloons, golf balls, and even cat toys. They may swallow objects that can lacerate the intestinal walls – like paper clips and bones (especially chicken) that can splinter into sharp pieces. Some dogs particularly like cloth objects.
Prevention is the best medicine. Since you are aware of Tasha’s chewing habit, you must be vigilant and pick up any object that might attract her and put it out of reach. At the same time, you will need to provide suitable and highly valued chew toys to keep Tasha occupied in a safe way.
Many puppies around three to six months old will chew as they are teething with their adult teeth. This is a good time to discourage indiscriminate chewing by offering an acceptable chew toy before they have a chance to develop other preferences.
If, despite your precautions, Tasha swallows something, your veterinarian will need a description of the object. Depending on what it is, he or she may decide to give her something that will make her vomit to bring it up. If the decision is to let the object pass through the digestive tract, then soft food or stool softeners may be of help. You also need to watch for danger signs indicating that the object is stuck. These signs are complete loss of appetite, vomiting, a very painful abdomen and lethargy. If she shows these signs, even if you haven’t seen her swallow anything, you should suspect an intestinal obstruction.