How to Handle a Dog Who Has Swallowed a Foreign Object

Puppy chewing a toy

Puppies mouth, taste, and chew their way around the world, potentially ingesting alien items that might be harmful to them. When a toy component breaks off or anything unexpectedly falls to the ground without the owner's awareness, puppies may inadvertently ingest some objects. Other hazardous materials are too alluring for the pups that scour the trash cans for scraps; soiled tampons and even grease-smeared foil are enticing. A foreign body blockage in a puppy can be a medical emergency that, if not treated right once, might cost you money and perhaps your puppy's life.

Commonly Swallowed Objects

The top 10 things that are surgically removed from pets' gastrointestinal tracts most frequently were ranked by veterinary pet insurance claims adjusters. Socks are the most frequent item, followed by underwear, pantyhose, rocks, balls, chew toys, corn cobs, bones, hair ties/ribbons, sticks, and chew toys. The majority of products are often owner-scented items, although the list goes on.

Toys in whole or in pieces, jewelry, coins, pins, erasers, and paper clips are frequently ingested. Extremely hazardous items include yarn, tinsel from Christmas trees, fishing hooks and lines, string, thread (with or without the needle), and string. Watch out for those seasonal food dangers, especially the string from turkey roasts. Additionally, bits of bone or wood might be dangerous for pups who can chew up the object. Even too much rawhide chewing might clog his internal organs. Even puppies may consume pebbles.


Never tug on the string's visible end, whether it's sticking out the puppy's mouth or protruding from its rectus muscle. A needle, fishhook, or organ lodged in tissue farther down the digestive track are frequently connected with string and thread. The intestines may get fatally injured if you pull the rope at your end.

First Aid for Swallowed Objects

It's likely still in the stomach if the item was consumed within an hour or two. If your veterinarian recommends inducing vomiting in the veterinary office, call them right away. If there is a worry about toxicity, they can advise calling an animal poison hotline (like the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Hotline) or coming in immediately away to have vomiting induced. In some cases, they could advise you to induce vomiting at home (however it is not recommended without the guidance of a veterinarian due to some safety concerns with at-home methods).

Vomiting won't help because the thing will have entered the intestines after two hours. You should still call your veterinarian for guidance. Numerous items that are tiny enough to fit through the digestive system might be removed with the feces without causing any harm (however do not risk this with coins or batteries). Give stones or other heavy items a hearty diet of dry food to assist them go on out. Additionally, food activates the digestive system, which can assist in softening wads of rawhide treats so they can be passed more easily.

Most of the time, if an object is tiny enough, it will pass through the body unharmed and land on the grass. Keep an eye on your puppy's output. Using a disposable popsicle stick or plastic knife, slice up the dog poop and look through it for the item.

If your dog swallows the below objects, take extra caution:

  • Sharp Objects: Call your vet and prepare to go to the vet immediately.
  • Metal Objects Like Coins or Batteries: The exception to allowing small objects pass are swallowed metal objects like coins or batteries. Don't wait; get your puppy seen immediately. Stomach acids interact with these metal objects and cause zinc or lead poisoning.
  • String: String is another dangerous object when swallowed and requires you to seek professional help.


Seek assistance right away if you think your pet may have swallowed anything harmful and they exhibit symptoms such as lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, retching, diarrhea, persistent coughing, or a worried appearance. Any item, no matter how little, has the ability to enter and clog the digestive system.

Symptoms of Swallowed Objects

Both symptoms and observing the puppy swallow anything can be used to make a diagnosis. In order to pinpoint the precise location and size of the obstruction and, occasionally, to identify the item itself, it is validated by X-rays or other diagnostics like an endoscope. The location and nature of the obstruction will determine the specific signs. Any of the following symptoms indicate that your pet needs to visit a veterinarian very away: vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, loss of interest in eating or drinking, decreased energy, retching, enlarged stomach, hunching, or acting painfully.

  • An object caught in the stomach or intestines causes vomiting, lethargy, and dehydration which needs medical attention from your veterinarian. Sometimes it may come and go for days or weeks if the blockage is not complete and food can pass around it but if any signs are seen a visit to a vet is needed to help your pet.
  • A complete blockage is a medical emergency that results in a often with vomiting. The dog refuses food and immediately throws up anything he or she drinks. These are often life-threatening.
  • Signs of zinc toxicity (from coins) include pale gums, bloody urine, jaundice—a yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes or inside the ears—along with vomiting, diarrhea, and refusal to eat.
  • Lead poisoning from batteries can also cause teeth grinding, seizures and hyperactivity, , and vomiting.
  • Copper poisoning has similar signs plus a swollen tummy.
  • String-type articles may be caught between the teeth in the mouth, with the rest swallowed.

Peristalsis, a type of muscular contraction that travels the full length of the gut (sort of like an earthworm), is used by the intestines to force food through. However, the intestine actually "collects" itself like cloth on a thread when a foreign item, like a string, gets trapped at one end, resulting in a type of accordion structure. Dehydration happens quickly, along with acute, severe vomiting and diarrhea. To decide the best course of action for treating a blockage, consult your veterinarian. To get rid of the blockage, surgery is frequently required.

Treatment for Swallowed Objects

If the obstruction is not quickly removed, the resultant harm can be beyond repair. Sharp items have the potential to cut or puncture the intestine, and any obstructions might prevent blood from reaching the organs and result in the death of intestinal tissue. In either scenario, peritonitis develops and frequently proves deadly.

The item will be deleted after being found. The veterinarian may occasionally be able to accomplish this by surgery, inserting an endoscope into the puppy's rectum or down its throat. All internal harm is repaired. Most puppies totally recover if surgery can stop the condition before peritonitis develops. These pups normally have a good prognosis, but much relies on the precise site of the surgery and the level of damage that was present at the time. Should tissue die, the damaged sections of the intestine may be removed, and the live segments of the intestines may be reattached.

How to Prevent Your Puppy From Swallowing a Foreign Object

The majority of puppies outgrow mindless chewing. The best course of action is to keep your dog from ingesting harmful objects. Select safe toys for dogs that won't break apart when chewed, and keep an eye on object play. Always keep things tidy, and only permit chewing when you are present. Puppies will eat everything that a youngster might put in their mouth. Think like your dog while puppy-proofing your home to avoid being surprised when your dog nibbles the rubber bumpers off the door stops. No matter the age, keep garbage up and away from your pets.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.


"Gastrointestinal Obstruction in Small Animals. Merck Veterinary Manual" ;