What To Do If Your Dog Swallowed Something They Shouldn’t Have; By PetMD Editorial. Reviewed by Jennifer Coates, DVM on Jun. 27, 2023
If your dog swallowed something toxic or potentially toxic, such as antifreeze, chocolate, medications, supplements, rat poisons, or drugs in any form, contact your veterinarian or ASPCA Animal Poison Control (888-426-4435) immediately. If your dog is having trouble breathing or has any other serious symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away.
Dogs frequently swallow things they shouldn’t, especially inquisitive pups, but also dogs whose chewing drive is high (such as Labrador Retrievers, Pit Bulls, etc.).
Although some objects may be small enough to swallow and pass through the digestive tract with minor consequences, others may be toxic, get stuck, or do damage at some point—in the mouth, throat, esophagus, stomach, or intestines.
If you’re unsure whether your dog could have ingested something, it’s best to be cautious and visit your veterinarian. Left untreated, swallowed objects can be fatal.
Any sudden onset of choking that affects respiration must be dealt with immediately.
Immediate Care for Swallowed ObjectsThe specific steps to take will depend on what your dog ingested, how long ago it happened, and your dog’s symptoms. Here is a general guide for dealing with swallowed objects:
1. If you know your dog swallowed an object, call your veterinarian immediately and take your dog to the vet’s office as soon as possible. The doctor may be able to induce vomiting or retrieve the object from the stomach before serious problems set in.
4. Even with one hand on the upper jaw and the other on the lower, any dog can bite, so use every precaution. If you are working by yourself, keep an index finger on your lower hand free to perform step 5.
5. Look inside the mouth and sweep your finger from the back of the mouth forward to try to remove the obstruction.
6. Talk to your veterinarian or an after-hours veterinarian regarding follow-up care, even if you were able to remove the object.
Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs
Here are the steps for performing the Heimlich maneuver for dogs:
Hold your dog vertically so their back is pressed against your abdomen. Place your closed fist just under their ribcage with your other hand on top. Pull up and in several times.
Do not try to pick up a large dog; you may do further damage due to the animal's size. Instead, follow these steps:
For dogs who have swallowed a ball or similar object and are unconscious, the eXternal eXtraction Technique (XXT) can be performed. With the dog on their back, extend the neck forward so the top of the head is on the ground. Straddle the dog, identify the trachea (windpipe), the stuck ball, and the "V"-shaped jaw. Grasp the jaw with both hands and use your thumbs in a swooping J-like motion to get under the ball and push it forward for removal. Once retrieved, give two rescue breaths and seek veterinary care immediately.
Commonly Swallowed Objects
Here are some objects that dogs commonly swallow and the damage they could cause Choking, Poisonous/Toxic, Puncture injury, Intestinal injury, Blockage to name a few. Some items are Ballons, Batteries, Bones, Chapstick/Lipstick, Cigarettes, Cough Drop, Food Wrappers
(aluminum, plastic), Fruit Seeds/Pits, Gum, Pencils/Pens, Plastic, Rocks, Rubber Bands/Hair Ties, Silica Gel Packet, Socks, String, Tampons, Toys and/or squeakers (especially tennis balls and rope toys that dogs enjoy chewing)
What Will Happen at the Veterinarian’s Office?
Treating a dog that has accidentally swallowed an object can vary from simply sedating the dog so the object can be safely removed from the mouth or throat to performing gastrointestinal surgery that may require the removal of large portions of bowel. The potential severity of a swallowed corn cob or sock cannot be underestimated.
A veterinarian will be able to perform a physical examination and use X-rays, an ultrasound, or an endoscope to determine if your dog swallowed something and what it might be. Based on what it is and where it is in your pet’s body, your veterinarian may recommend surgery, endoscopic removal, or other forms of treatment.
Tips for Preventing Your Dog From Eating Dangerous Household Objects
If you’re worried about your dog swallowing something dangerous, here are some preventive measures you can take: