Stephen J. Birchard DVM, MS, Diplomate ACVS

Thursday, October 10, 2013

10 Things Your Dog or Cat Should Never Play With or Chew On

I have been a veterinary surgeon since 1984, so I’ve spent almost 30 years surgically removing objects lodged in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and intestines from dogs and cats. A simple lesson I’ve learned from this experience is: when dogs and cats swallow something other than food, it can kill them. Here are 10 common items that can cause serious problems for your dog or cat:

Bones: That’s right, “A dog and his bone” are not a good combination. They love to chew them but if swallowed whole or in fragments they can lodge in the esophagus, intestine or rectum and cause severe problems. Substitute real bones with large nylon bones that they can’t break up or swallow.
A fish hook lodged in the esophagus of a dog. Surgical removal was required.
Fish hooks: Dogs and cats eat them because they taste like fish. Fish hooks are good at catching fish but will lodge in the mouth, esophagus, stomach, or intestine requiring either endoscopic or surgical removal.

Undergarments: Don’t ask why, but dogs love to eat our “unmentionables”. They get stuck in the stomach or intestine and if not removed quickly they can cause perforation of the bowel and life threatening infection.
Panty hose being surgically removed from the intestine of a dog.
Keep tampons out of reach too!
Corn cob in the intestine of a dog. 
Corn cobs: Dogs can swallow them whole and they will plug up the guts in no time.

Baby pacifiers: Kids and pets are usually a great combination, but keep an eye on pacifiers and bottle nipples. Dogs love them as appetizers.
A scarf being removed from the intestine of a dog.
Linear foreign bodies: socks, strings, towels, plastic bags, rug fragments: A kitten playing with a ball of yarn is cute, but not if kitty eats it. Strings wrap around cats’ tongues and can extend from there all the way to the large intestine. Dogs will eat all kinds of stringy materials. The foreign bodies will make the intestines bunch up and perforate and are an extremely serious problem. That string they use to tie up your Thanksgiving turkey? Guess who would love to eat it?
Radiograph of a dog with gravel in his stomach and intestine. 
Rocks: “If he chews it, he will swallow it.” Give your dog safer alternatives to satisfy his chewing desires. Don’t discard meat drippings on your gravel driveway.
Radiograph of a dog with a ball in his stomach
Balls: tennis balls, golf balls, rubber balls; anything that he can fragment or swallow, he will.  Playing ball with your retriever is fine but when the game is over, put the ball away.

Gorilla Glue: Dogs like the taste so they will eat the entire bottle. Then the glue rapidly expands and hardens and forms a mold of the inside of the stomach requiring surgical removal. Save yourself some money and your dog some pain and suffering by keeping this stuff away from him.
A large stick being removed from the chest cavity of a dog.
Sticks: Dogs love to chew them and run with them. Both are bad. Splinters from the sticks get jammed into their throat or esophagus and cause severe infection. Small splinters may migrate from the throat to remote areas of the body causing a chronic infection and draining tracts.

Conclusion: Keep risky items away from your pets. When you give your dog or cat something to play with, ask yourself: can he swallow this? If the answer is yes, take it away. Even when you give your dogs or cats a safe toy, supervise them. Talk to your veterinarian about safe chew toys for your pets. Your furry loved one will thank you by living a longer life.

Questions are welcome, and please share any experiences you've had that we can all learn from.


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