I just treated a case where a dog ingested a whole bag of hersheys kisses, aluminum foil and all! The dog as big and after inducing vomit we recover all the offending kisses but it brought to mind all the other cases where dogs and cats have eaten strange things like plastic flowers,dvd covers,earrings and coins.
Why do our pets eat these weird things in the first place?
Some items can be obvious, for example, pieces of glass from a broken spaghetti sauce jar could easily end up in the abdomen of a dog hurrying to finish off the tasty treat. One can also understand why dogs are attracted to fishing lures, fish hooks and even knives. Other objects, such as sticks and rocks are less obvious as to why they were eaten. Even more curious is how many of these dogs swallow items without damaging themselves and why they continue the habit.
Veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Valarie Tynes says that there is no easy answer to these questions. “Certainly, young dogs have a strong exploratory drive and putting things in their mouth is how they learn about the world,” says Tynes, “but dogs who repeatedly eat items like rocks or other unusual things are a different and difficult case.” Dr Tynes encourages owners of these pets to see their veterinarian for a physical exam, bloodwork and a review of dietary history. This could help find metabolic disease or some sort of nutritional issue.
Keeping the voracious dog from eating all manner of things can be a challenge in itself as well. To keep your pet from making an emergency trip to the animal hospital, I recommend the following:
• Keep all garbage behind a secure door or cabinet.
• Use baby gates or closed doors to create “off-limits” areas for your dog.
• Monitor your dog while walking. Many pets will find irresistible treats, such as corn cobs and walnuts, while enjoying the day in the park.
Being proactive and picking up leftover food, utensils, and other items after eating can help to curb the dog’s desire as well.
What about our cats?
As it turns out, they may be just as guilty as our canine friends for having an appetite for unusual objects. String-like items, such as a needle and thread, are almost irresistible to cats. On websites and forums that focus on cats, many cat owners report their felines have a strange desire for chewing on plastic. Rubber bands, Christmas tinsel, bread ties or any object that can be batted around is at risk for being swallowed. And such “string foreign bodies” can be very dangerous in cats.
Most these foreign bodies cases end up having s difficult surgeries and are likely separated from their families for a few days. In addition, the owners worry about their pets and likely suffer unexpected financial burdens. Exploratory surgeries or endoscopic procedures to remove foreign objects often cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Sadly, some pets may not survive the surgery.
The important thing to remember is that you can help prevent many of these situations by following the advice outlined above. Seek veterinary care immediately if you note your pet vomiting constantly, retching or if he has diarrhea. Waiting to see if the situation resolves itself often leads to higher veterinary bills and more distress for your pet.
For more information visit our pet library at www.osahvets.com