puppy eating foreign objects

    What To Do If Your Puppy Swallows Something Harmful

    Puppies love to put everything in their mouths, and may swallow items that can cause choking or internal damage. Things like childrenโ€™s toys, socks, rocks, batteries, string, masking tape, or pieces of plastic are common culprits. This guide covers first aid steps to take if your pup swallows a troublesome object, symptoms that indicate an issue, and how to prevent these scary incidents.

    Types of Objects Puppies May Ingest

    Puppies explore with their mouth, and often swallow non-food items like:

    • Toys, stuffing, or toy parts
    • Fabric items like socks, masks, underwear
    • Rocks, marbles, pebbles
    • Coins or other metal objects
    • Sticks, corn cobs, bones
    • String, thread, ribbon, yarn
    • Bathroom items like cotton swabs or tissues
    • Plastic like packaging or bags
    • Household objects like sponges, makeup pads

    Puppies chewing cords and holiday decor are other dangers. Be vigilant about small, chewable items.

    If you suspect that your pet has swallowed the objects below, rush to a veterinarian immediately:

    • Sharp objects
    • Metal objects, such as coins or batteries
    • String

    If you see string protruding from your pet's mouth or rectum, do not pull it out.ย The string could be wrapped around internal organs or connected to a sharp object like a needle that could cause severe damage. Pulling the visible string risks further damaging the gastrointestinal tissues. Instead, safely transport your pet to the veterinarian for proper examination and safe string removal.

    Symptoms of Blockages or Damage

    Signs a puppy may have ingested something problematic include:

    • Coughing, choking or gagging
    • Drooling more than usual
    • Loss of appetite or vomiting
    • Distended abdomen or unproductive retching
    • Passing small stool or difficulty defecating
    • Increased lethargy or restlessness

    Take action promptly if any symptoms arise. Even if nothing is visible, an object may have passed beyond the stomach but still cause intestinal issues.

    First Aid When an Object is Swallowed

    If ingestion just occurred within the last two hours, immediately contact your vet or emergency vet clinic. They may advise you to induce vomiting or come in right away based on the object and situation. Do not make a puppy vomit without consulting a vet first.

    For items swallowed 2+ hours prior, still call the vet, as imaging or endoscopy may be needed. They may recommend a meal to help cushion the object's passage or monitor stool. Avoid any food or object suggestions found online, and only follow your vet's specific guidance. Rush puppy in if any worrying symptoms develop.

    Treatment for Swallowed Objects

    If your puppy swallows something that causes a blockage, the vet will likely need to surgically remove the obstruction. Leaving blockages untreated can lead to irreparable intestinal damage from lack of blood flow, or fatal peritonitis if the object slices the bowel.

    In some cases, the vet can retrieve the item nonsurgically with an endoscope down the throat or up through the rectum.

    If tissue dies, the damaged intestinal sections may need removal and the living bowel reattached.

    The key is prompt veterinary care at the first signs of blockage or ingestion of concerning objects. Early intervention gives the best chance for a full recovery. Be sure to dog-proof your home to avoid future foreign body incidents.

    Preventing Puppy Foreign Body Incidents

    Take the following precautions to avoid vet visits:

    • Dog-proof rooms and trash cans. Use baby gates and crates when away.
    • Choose larger-sized chew toys too big to swallow. Avoid toys with loose parts.
    • Keep strings, cords, holiday decor secured and out of reach.
    • Avoid bones, rawhides, and chews that can break into shards.
    • Monitor the puppy and remove any non-food items from the mouth.
    • Correct with positive reinforcement like reward toys when chewing inappropriate objects.

    Puppies explore with their mouths, so vigilance, training, and removing hazards are key to prevention. But if one does ingest something worrisome, prompt vet care can protect their health and avoid lasting harm.

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    By Dr. M Chandrasekar


    Dr. Chandrasekar serves as the Professor and Head of the Emergency Critical Care Unit at Madras Veterinary College, Chennai. In this role, he brings a deep passion for animal welfare and advanced medical care to the Resident Veterinary and Services Section. Known for a warm, empathetic approach, Dr. Chandrasekar not only leads in critical care but also inspires future veterinarians with his dedication and expertise in this challenging yet rewarding field.

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