Dogs (and cats) are notorious for getting into many things they shouldn’t, and yes, eating them. So, it isn’t a surprise to know that a dog swallowing something they shouldn’t rank highly in veterinary emergencies. Dogs are natural scavengers and this instinct can lead them to put themselves in harm’s way, especially when the item is toxic (like a battery) or too big to pass through the digestive tract. 

If your dog swallows something they shouldn’t (a foreign object), don’t panic. Your friends at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital can give you the rundown on what to do next.

The Usual Suspects

Any dog can be subject to eating something weird, but certain breeds like Labrador retrievers and boxers, and others that like to chew just about everything, are more often the culprits. Young adults and puppies are especially prone to ingesting a foreign object. You may wonder what ingested objects are most frequently reported? Some may shock you.

  • Bones
  • Sticks
  • Coins
  • Rocks
  • Toys
  • Balls
  • Fishing hooks
  • String
  • Batteries
  • Socks and underwear
  • Plastic
  • Tin foil
  • Hair ties
  • Gorilla Glue (VERY DANGEROUS)
  • Women’s sanitary products

None of these sound appealing to us, but your dog probably finds them to be a possible food source. This is why it is essential to remove anything that your pet may want to swallow by stowing away any of these, as well as things they are a little too intrigued with (that can end up in their mouth).

So Now What?

If you know that your dog swallowed a foreign object, then it is important to call our team. The upside to the story is that they pass the object without harm, but it depends a lot on the size and shape of said inedible. Larger objects can form an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract, blocking food from passing through the system. If the blockage doesn’t get resolved,intestinal rupture may occur, forcing blood, bacteria, and undigested food into the abdominal cavity. This can lead to pain, sepsis, and even result in death if not treated. 

If the swallowed object is smooth and relatively small, most of the time it can pass through your dog’s system. Items like string, tinsel, dental floss though, can bunch up around the intestines and cause the tissues to die. Pointed objects can puncture the GI tract or lead to abrasions and cuts throughout. 

Your safest bet is to call us at once, if you suspect your dog or cat ingested a foreign object.

Symptoms to Watch For

Symptoms will vary depending on the size and shape of the object, your dog’s size, when they ingested it, and so on. Clinical signs of foreign body obstruction include:

  • Vomiting
  • Gagging or regurgitation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Drooling
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea or bloody stool
  • Pawing at face
  • Straining to defecate
  • Lethargy


During an examination, we will discuss with you what you think your dog swallowed and how long ago. Once we have performed a physical examination, we will conduct diagnostic testing, such as X-ray and ultrasound, to look at where the object is in the body.

In some cases, we can give your pet something to make them vomit, to prevent the item from going further into the GI tract. If this is not possible, depending on the size, we will monitor your pet’s stools to see if the object passes. The use of an endoscope, which has a tiny camera at the end of a flexible tube, can give us a clearer view of where the object is. Sometimes, larger items or those that have become immobile must be surgically removed. 

When Your Dog Swallows a Foreign Object

No matter what the foreign object, your veterinarian is your first call, so you can get your dog the help they need without more serious symptoms emerging. We are always happy to answer your questions, too, about helping to prevent your dog swallowing things they shouldn’t. Please call us.