Our Blog

July 26, 2013

Watch Those Foreign Bodies

By AJ Gegenheimer, RVT, ICAN Canine Health Coordinator

You may feel fairly confident that your dog won't chew or eat something that's detrimental to his/her health; however, dog owners need to be vigilant in monitoring their dog's behavior and patterns.

For instance, last year, ICAN reported a number of dogs who suffered from the side effects of eating foreign bodies. These foreign bodies included sewing needles, gloves, electrical cords, leashes, stuffed toys, balls, cat toys, rocks, sticks, mouse bait and many others. Just because your dog has never eaten anything unusual doesn't mean that a dog won't do it at some point in the future. Remember, these are dogs and they experience things by putting them in their mouths. It only takes seconds for something to be swallowed. When a dog eats a foreign body, it may not show signs of a problem for several weeks. If a dog has ingested an item, signs to watch for are: not eating, vomiting, burping, diarrhea or not stool at all, and lethargy. 

If you are unable to watch your dog, it should be crated and there should be nothing near the crate that the dog can pull inside. Remember, a tongue is a muscle and can stretch quite far to pull things into the crate.  When your dog is in the yard, please supervise: rocks and sticks are very popular items in a dog's world. If you are concerned that your dog may have eaten something that it shouldn't have,  contact your vet immediately.

Accidents do happen, but you can be proactive by dog proofing your home, car and yard. Get down on your hands and knees to get a dog's eye view. If a dog likes material items, keep pillows, towels, blankets, stuffed toys and other similar items out of reach. If a dog likes paper, keep magazines, books, files, paper shredders and other similar items,  be sure to move these to a safer, unreachable area. If a dog is motivated by food (and most are), be sure to keep food items out of reach. Counter surfing is very common and not limited to counters; think about tables, end tables, coffee tables, desks, etc.

If you've taken your dog in your car and he/she is not crated, be sure there is nothing available for the dog to get into. They will jump onto the front seat to get into something while you make a "quick" run into the store. Even seat belts, steering wheels, and car mats  can be tempting to a dog. Everything is fair game in a dog's world, so please watch your dog closely.

This information is designed for ICAN dogs in correctional facilities. It is for quick, short term response to a situation until veterinary care can be administered.  Always check with your veterinarian for proper care of your pet. Each pet is individual and not every quick, short term response is appropriate.