How to prevent a pup’s death due to swallowing of objects

Puppies are as curious as human babies. Some are even more curious.

How to prevent a pup’s death due to swallowing of objects

Everything is of course new to your puppy, so they taste and even chew everything.  

If objects are exposed and on their path, they will most likely taste them, like aluminum foils with food scraps and oil, and even used sanitary napkins. Please make sure to close lids of all waste baskets.

This curiosity and adventurous nature of a puppy might lead to internal injury, an allergic reaction that might result in a skin problem, or food poisoning.  Worse, an obstruction can cost him his life.

“Foreign body obstruction in puppies can be a medical emergency that costsyou money and could cost your puppy his life,” said Amy Shojai in “What to Do When Your Puppy Swallows a Foreign Object” (reviewed by Jennifer Coates, DVM) in The Spruce Pets online site.

Common Swallowed Objects

The top 10 most common items removed from the pets’ gastrointestinal tracts through surgery are  (in this order): socks, underwear, pantyhose, rocks, balls, chew toys, corncobs, bones, hair ties/ribbons, and sticks.

“Most items tend to be owner-scented objects, but the list doesn’t stop there,” said Shojai.

Other items swallowed by dogs are: whole toys or parts of toys, jewelry, coins, pins, erasers, and paper.

Extremely dangerous items were also found in dogs’ gastrointestinal tracts:   string, thread (with or without the needle), fishing hooks and lines, Christmas tree tinsel, and yarn.

“String from turkey roasts is particularly appealing so watch out for those holiday food hazards. And for puppies able to crunch up the object, pieces of wood or bone prove hazardous. Even too much of a rawhide chew can stop up his innards. Puppies may even eat rocks,” Shojai said.


Never pull the visible end of the string which you may see out of the mouth or while hanging out of the puppy's rectum.

The string and thread are often attached to a needle or a fishhook which is already embedded in the tissue deep down the digestive tract. When you pull the string at your end, your action might cause more injury to the intestines. This might kill the dog.

First aid for swallowed objects

• If the item was swallowed within two hours, the object is likely still inside the stomach.

• If the item is not sharp, feed your pet a small meal, and then induce vomiting. The food will help cushion the object and protect the stomach. Pets also vomit more easily if the stomach is full. If he doesn't vomit, bring your dog to the vet immediately.

• If he swallowed a sharp object,  go to the vet immediately. Do not induce vomiting. The object might cause more damage if it goes back up when the pet vomits.

• After two hours, the item will have passed into the intestines and vomiting will not help. “Most objects small enough to pass through the digestive system may be eliminated with the feces and cause no problems. Feed a bulky meal of dry food to cushion stones or other heavy objects, and help them move on out. Food also turns on the digestive juices, which can help soften wads of rawhide treats, so they pass more readily. In most cases as long as it is small enough, objects pass harmlessly through the body and end up on the lawn. Monitor your puppy’s productivity. Use a disposable popsicle stick or plastic knife to chop up and search through the puppy droppings for the object,” Shojai said.

• Go to the vet immediately if he swallowed a metal object like a coin or battery.  “DON’T WAIT, get your puppy seen immediately. Stomach acids interact with these metal objects and cause zinc or lead poisoning. String is another dangerous object when swallowed and requires you to seek professional help,” Shojai said.

• If you see the pet swallow an item he shouldn’t  have and it doesn’t pass, or the puppy begins vomiting and nothing is coming out, he won’t eat,  and looks or behaves distressed, or repeatedly coughs, bring him to the vet immediately. “Any object, even tiny ones, potentially may lodge in and block the intestinal tract,” Shojai said.


Diagnosis is based on what the furparent saw the puppy swallow or based on symptoms. This is confirmed through an x-ray or other diagnostics like an endoscope to determine the exact location and size of the blockage, and to identify the object itself. Specific signs depend on the location of the blockage  and the kind of object.

• If an object is lodged in the stomach or intestines, vomiting will follow and might come and go for days or weeks “if the blockage is not complete and food can pass around it,” Shojai said.

• A complete blockage results in a bloated, painful stomach with sudden, constant vomiting. The dog won’t eat food and  will  vomit immediately after drinking anything.  

• Signs of zinc toxicity (from coins) are pale gums, bloody urine, jaundice—a yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes or inside the ears. Other symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, and refusal to eat.

• Lead poisoning due to swallowing of a battery can also cause teeth grinding, seizures and hyperactivity, loss of appetite and vomiting.

• Copper poisoning has the same signs but the symptoms include a swollen tummy.

• String-type articles may be caught between the teeth so check the mouth, with the rest swallowed.

Veterinary Treatment

It is important that the pup be brought to the vet.

“If the blockage is not promptly addressed, the resulting damage may become irreparable. Sharp objects may slice or puncture the bowel, and obstruction may interfere with blood flow to the organs and cause bowel tissue to die. Peritonitis is the result in either case and usually kills the victim,” Shojai said.

“Once located, the object will be removed. The veterinarian can sometimes do this with an endoscope down the puppy’s throat or the other direction up through his rectum, or with surgery. Any internal damage is repaired. If surgery can correct the problem before peritonitis sets in, most puppies fully recover. Should tissue die, the damaged sections of the intestine may be removed, and the living portions of bowel reattached; these puppies typically have a good prognosis,” Shojai added.

How to prevent a pup’s death due to swallowing of objects
Puppy-proof areas where the pups stay, play or sleep. Always keep dangerous and toxic items away from them and their place.
Most puppies stop indiscriminate munching when they grow old. But you can always keep your place safe from a pup to keep him safe and  so that  he will not grow into a munching adult. It is always best to keep the pup away from objects that should not go inside the mouth.

“Choose dog-safe toys that can't be chewed into tiny pieces, and supervise object play. Anything a child would put in their mouth is fair game for puppies. Puppy-proof your home by thinking like your dog, so that you won't be caught off guard when your dog eats the rubber bumpers off the door stops,” Shojai said. DC

Topics: puppy , prevent , death , Jennifer Coates , Amy Shojai
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