May 18 2011

Your pet ate what now? by Michelle Tribe by Michelle Tribe

Working at a vet, you see some strange stuff.  Some of the oddest things we see are what pets will eat.  There are certain items you know to keep out of their reach, but sometimes they’ll devour objects you wouldn’t think they’d be interested in.

Dogs are often the culprits.  One Golden kept eating his mom’s pantyhose, and had several exploratory surgeries to have them removed.  We’ve seen a Boxer that ate about seven (new) tampons.  One dog had an affinity for eating rocks.  Dr. South has removed a mini tennis ball and sandal leather from canine stomachs.  In vet school, she had a dog who had eaten Gorilla Glue, which hardened and expanded once it got to the stomach.  They had to make a large incision, but it was removed and the pet did fine.

Cats are known to eat certain things: strings, plants, plastic.  Even though they probably don’t taste good, it’s a good idea to keep these types of things out of their reach so you don’t end up with a situation where they’re sick or blocked.  If a cat has eaten a string and is unable to pass it, take her to the vet immediately.  Linear foreign bodies can cause a serious problem in their intestines.  If you see the string coming out of either end, do not pull on it or trim it.  It may be caught on something, and pulling it can make things worse.  Don’t trim it so that your vet can see what they’re dealing with.  Also keep in mind that strings or thread can get wrapped around the base of their tongue.  If he’s acting strange and pawing at his mouth, drooling or licking excessively, try to lift his tongue to see if there is a string attached.  Then take him to the vet, and let them know what you saw.

My cats eat things you wouldn’t expect.  One loves to eat tomatoes, so we can’t leave them out in the fruit basket.  It’s a good thing we don’t use plastic grocery bags when we shop anymore, because he’ll chew on those all day and night.  Another one likes eating clothes, and we had to have him scoped to remove the sleeves from my nightgown that he chewed off and swallowed.

The weirdest thing I remember seeing in my eight years as a tech was the chicken who had eaten her owner’s pearl earring.  It was a family heirloom, and she really wanted it back.  We could see it in her wattle on x-ray.  Unfortunately, there was nothing we could do to get it out.  I don’t know what ever happened to that earring.

What weird things do your pets eat?  Do you have to keep certain items out of their reach when you’re gone?  Have they had surgery because of their strange appetite?

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