Nov 14 2012

Your Pet’s Top Ten Most Swallowed Objects

Our furry friends explore their world by mouthing, tasting, and chewing. As a result, swallowed objects are constantly getting them into trouble.

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Veterinary Pet Insurance claims adjusters recently ranked the top ten most common items surgically removed from pets’ gastrointestinal tracts.

10. Sticks

9. Hair Ties/ Ribbon

8. Bones

7. Corncobs

6. Chew Toys

5. Balls

4. Rocks

3. Panty Hose

2. Underwear

And the #1 ingested item veterinarians see…


Most items tend to be owner-scented objects, but the list doesn’t stop there. Whole toys or parts of toys, jewelry, coins, pins, erasers, and paper clips are often swallowed. String, thread (with or without the needle), fishing hooks and lines, Christmas tree tinsel, and yarn are extremely dangerous. With Thanksgiving fast approaching, strings from a turkey roast are particularly appealing to hungry pets so watch out for those holiday food hazards.

Symptoms Of Swallowed Objects

Diagnosis is often based on seeing your furry friend swallow something, but there are also a few symptoms to be on the lookout for in case you missed your pet’s most recent “snack.” At Briarcliff Animal Clinic, we generally confirm the diagnosis with X-rays or other diagnostics like an endoscope to determine the exact location and size of the blockage, and sometimes to identify the object itself. Specific signs depend on where the blockage is located and the type of object.

1)       An object caught in the stomach or intestines causes vomiting which may come and go for days or weeks if the blockage is not complete and food can pass around it.

2)       Complete blockage is a medical emergency that results in a bloated, painful stomach with sudden, constant vomiting. Your pet will refuse food, and immediately throw up anything he or she drinks.

3)       Signs of zinc toxicity (from swallowing 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.

4)       Lead poisoning from batteries can cause teeth grinding, seizures, hyperactivity, loss of appetite and vomiting.

5)       Copper poisoning has similar signs to Lead poisoning plus a swollen tummy.

6)       String-type articles may be caught between the teeth in the mouth, with the rest swallowed.


If blockage is not promptly addressed, the resulting damage could be extremely harmful to your pet’s health. Sharp objects may slice or puncture the bowel, and obstruction may interfere with blood flow to the organs and cause bowel tissue to die.

Once located, the object is removed. At Briarcliff Animal Clinic, we can sometimes do this with surgery or an endoscope. Any internal damage is repaired. If surgery can correct the problem before any real damage is done, most pets fully recover.

The best course of action is to prevent your pet from swallowing dangerous items in the first place. Choose pet safe toys that can’t be chewed into tiny pieces. Pet -proof your rooms by thinking like your pet, so that you won’t be caught off guard when he or she eats the rubber bumpers off the door stops.

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