Keoki's Corner

What Goes In, Must Come Out

What is the craziest thing that you’ve heard of a dog eating? Pantyhose? A baby’s pacifier? Maybe a diamond earring? It is astounding what some pets will eat!

Dogs and cats will eat non-food items, known as indiscriminate eating, or pica. This can include the aforementioned pantyhose and pacifier, or dirt, plants, rocks, human medication, and much more.  In some cases, the items will be eliminated normally, but in many cases, medical and or surgical intervention is required. According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, gastrointestinal (meaning in the stomach or intestines) foreign bodies are the most common surgical emergencies in veterinary medicine.

Elsa’s Money

One of our clients recently came in telling a story about her dog Elsa who was at home with her son around Christmas time. Her son left his wallet out and came to find it opened with all the money missing. The wallet remained intact with credit cards in their rightful place. He planned to use the cash to go Christmas shopping. After the winter, the owner was cleaning up stool in her yard and found that a lot of it contained paper money. She picked up the money and cleaned it up as best she could. It turns out that the U.S. Treasury has a Mutilated Currency Division where you can send mangled money, and they will return the same amount in intact currency. Once the owner collected all the money and pieced it back together, there was a total of $866 recovered. Elsa’s owner plans to turn the mangled money in and keep Elsa from trying to be a doggy ATM machine again.

While Elsa required no medical intervention, there are cases that do. Olive, a yellow Labrador, got into Advil Cold & Sinus, which contains ibuprofen and pseudoephedrine. Once the owner called, we instructed them to induce vomiting and call us to let us know of her progress. She was unable to get the dog to vomit so we told her to bring Olive in right away. When she got here we induced vomiting successfully and found wrappers to the Advil and pieces of a child’s sippy cup. Due to the toxicity of these medications, we transferred her to a local emergency hospital after treating her here, so that they could provide supportive care over the weekend. They gave her fluids, and checked her bloodwork repeatedly, and she came home no worse for wear.

Contents of Sunny’s stomach after surgery

Recently, Kristin brought in her calico cat, Sunny, for a Wellness exam. While Dr. Geldon was feeling her abdomen, she felt a large, firm mass. Her owner had no real concerns about Sunny and had only noticed occasional loose stool. Dr. Geldon decided to perform an ultrasound to try to identify the mass; when she could not determine what it was using the ultrasound, she took x-rays. Both Dr. Geldon and our board-certified radiologist quickly identified a large amount of foreign material in her stomach. Sunny’s owner scheduled surgery to remove the foreign material the following week (we could wait because Sunny felt fine).

The amount of material that we removed from Sunny’s stomach shocked us all – a huge pile of hair ties, plastic tape, hair, rubber bands, etc. The material weighed almost a pound! When Sunny’s owner saw the material that we removed, she identified a lanyard that she knew Sunny ate 4 years ago!

The important message in these stories is that any animal has the potential to eat something that they shouldn’t. Cats love to eat string, hair ties, and plastic bags. Some dogs will eat anything you put in front of them. As pet owners, we need to be conscious of this and make sure we prevent them from doing so. While all of the stories we shared with you today had positive outcomes, it is important to remember that indiscriminate eating can often lead to intestinal obstructions. We should all keep in mind that just like with kids, we need to pet-proof our household.  Keeping boredom at bay and making sure your pet gets enough exercise is also helpful.