Your dog swallowed something? Don’t panic! Whether it was a nickel or a necktie, there are a few things you should do immediately to keep your pooch safe.
0-30 minutes in: Did It Really Happen?
If you witnessed your dog swallow something, you’re already ahead of the curve. Although some items may be small enough to pass through your dog’s system without issue, it’s always best to reach out to your veterinarian (or an emergency clinic, if yours isn’t available) for advice. Your dog’s ability to safely pass a swallowed object will have a lot to do with their overall size, the size of the object, the shape of the object, and any potential toxicities.
It is critically important that if you see a swallowed object protruding from your dog’s throat or anus you do not attempt to pull it out. This is particularly true for “stringy” objects! This could cause irreparable damage to your dog’s digestive system. Take your dog to a vet immediately.
Aren’t sure whether or not your dog swallowed something? Keep an eye out for the signs outlined in the next section if you’re even remotely suspicious.
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30 minutes – 1 hour in: Assess the Situation
If your dog definitely swallowed something, you should have already received advice on what to do next from a veterinarian over the phone. In most situations, you’ll probably be on your way to a veterinary clinic for an x-ray at this point.
Still unsure whether anything was swallowed? There are a few tell-tale signs to watch for that could indicate your dog ingested something they shouldn’t have:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Gagging or continuous coughing
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive licking of the licks
- Refusal to eat
- Distended/painful abdomen
- Inability to poop
- Lethargy or other illness symptoms
In some cases, such as if your dog swallows a toy, they may feel uncomfortable right away. In other instances, like if your dog swallows a piece of dental floss, symptoms may not show up until a day or two later when the object begins to wreak havoc on their intestinal system.
Generally, you should always contact a veterinarian when your dog seems “off.” A dog who swallowed something may not show any visible symptoms at all, but you’ll know when something’s not quite right.
1 hour – 2 hours in: Follow Your Vet’s Advice
By this point you’ll either feel relatively confident your dog didn’t swallow anything at all or you’ll have talked to a veterinarian. If the latter is the case, there’s a good chance you’ll end up in a veterinary clinic.
Follow your vet’s advice for treatment. They may want to assess your pet with an x-ray or they may feel relatively confident moving on to treatment if the swallowing was relatively recent and/or you know exactly what was swallowed. Treatment options run the gamut, from medically-induced vomiting to emergency surgery.
Remember that the best way to protect your dog from swallowing things is to keep small objects out of their reach! A few of the most commonly swallowed objects include laundry (especially socks and underwear), toy pieces, produce pits or meat bones, jewelry, string, and feminine products.
Got a dog who’ll eat anything?