If your dog swallowed something toxic or potentially toxic, such as antifreeze, chocolate, medications, supplements, or drugs in any form, contact your veterinarian or ASPCA poison control (888-426-4435) immediately. If your dog is having trouble breathing, contact your veterinarian right away.
Dogs frequently swallow things they shouldn’t, especially inquisitive pups, but also dogs whose chewing drive is high (Labrador Retrievers, Pit Bulls, etc.).
Although some objects may be small enough to swallow and pass through the digestive tract with minor consequences, others may get stuck or do damage at some point—in the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach or intestines.
If you are unsure whether your dog could have ingested something, it is best to be cautious and visit your veterinarian. Left untreated, swallowed objects can be fatal.
The specific steps to take will depend on what your dog ingested, how long ago it happened, and your dog’s symptoms. Here is a general guide for dealing with swallowed objects:
Carefully lay your dog on their back or on their side, using one hand behind their back to steady. Place the palm of your hand on the abdomen just below the sternum and push inward and forward quickly.
Do not try to pick up a large dog; you may do further damage due to the animals size. Instead, follow these steps:
After performing the Heimlich maneuver, check the dogs mouth and remove any objects that may have been dislodged using the steps described above. If the dog is not breathing, provide two rescue breaths (giving air through the nose and mouth), and immediately contact a veterinarian.
For dogs who have swallowed a ball and are unconcious, the eXternal eXtraction Technique (XXT) can be performed. With the dog on their back, extend the neck forward so the head is on the ground. Straddle the dog, identify the trachea (wind pipe), the stuck ball, and the “V”-shaped jaw. Grasp the jaw with both hands and use a swooping J-like motion to get down and under the ball for removal. Once retrieved, give two rescue breaths and seek veterinary care immediately.
How Frequent and How Serious is the Problem of Dogs Swallowing Rubber Bands?
Dogs like to explore with their noses and their mouths. Often, the things they are exploring are the very things they should not have in their mouths. There are many household objects that dogs frequently swallow, and each one presents its own unique risk to your dog.
Some are toxic, presenting poisoning hazards. Others present internal puncturing risks. Other items, like rubber bands, present a choking hazard and risk of intestinal blockage.
Rubberbands are ubiquitous and are easily dropped on floors or left in places that our dogs can easily access.
Veterinarian Dr. Greg Cunningham of Detroit Dover Animal Hospital has this to say regarding pets choking on rubber bands, “The material gets stuck in the intestine, and the intestine works upon it. The term’s called plication, and it can lead to a rupture of the intestine track.”
Symptoms of Swallowed Objects
Diagnosis can be based on seeing the puppy swallow something or based on symptoms. It’s confirmed by X-rays or other diagnostics like an endoscope to determine the exact location and size of the blockage, and sometimes to identify the object itself. Specific signs depend on where the blockage is located and the type of object. Any of the following signs mean that your pet needs to go to the vet promptly: vomiting, diarrhea, decreased energy or interest in getting up, decreased appetite, inability to keep food or water down, retching, distended stomach, hunching, or seemingly painful.
Intestines propel food using muscle contractions called peristalsis that move through the entire length of the intestine (kind of like an earthworm) to help push the contents through. But when a foreign object like a string is caught at one end, the intestine literally “gathers” itself like fabric on a thread, resulting in a kind of accordion formation. The result is sudden severe vomiting and diarrhea, and rapid dehydration. Your veterinarian should evaluate any blockage situation to determine the best course of treatment. Surgery is often necessary to remove the obstruction.
What Will Happen at the Veterinarian’s Office?
Treating a dog that has accidentally swallowed an object can vary widely from simply plucking the object from the mouth or throat while sedated to performing gastrointestinal surgery that may require the removal of large portions of bowel. The potential severity of a swallowed corn cob or sock cannot be underestimated.
A veterinarian will be able to perform a physical examination and use X-rays, an ultrasound, or an endoscope to determine if your dog swallowed something and what it might be. Based on what it is and where it is in your pet’s body, your veterinarian may recommend surgery, endoscopic removal, or other forms of treatment.
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