Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) received almost 2,000 medical care claims in 2010 for pets that ingested foreign objects.
The following is a list of some of the most unusual items swallowed by a family pet. As you'll see from the list, some pets ingested multiple bizarre objects at or around the same time.
|Glue||Uncooked rice (1 lb.)|
|Estrogen patch, make-up brush||Wallpaper paste|
|Tube of denture adhesive||Squirrel|
|Dead poisoned vole||Balloon ribbons|
|Ink pen||Butter, sand|
|Plastic nose from teddy bear||Deer antler (partial)|
|Magnetic purse clasps||Extension cord|
|Baseball||Leash, three sticks of butter|
|Glass Christmas ornament||Pin cushion|
|Hearing aid||Portion of wool rug|
|Box of pencils||TV remote control|
|Popsicle stick||12 coins, 3 arcade tokens|
|Avocado pit||Foot-long sub sandwich|
|Dental floss||Fire log|
|Coffee filter, coffee grounds||Wooden toy train|
|Pain relief tablet, B.B. pellet, highlighter||Round chew bone (whole)|
|Toy squeaker||Eye glasses|
|16 steel wool pads||Oil-soaked dirt|
| Pseudoephedrine, sponge, |
snail poison, tampon
|20 cherry pits||Rosary crucifix|
|Light bulb||25 to 30 soiled diapers|
|Barbeque brush||Bath bubble mix|
|Frisbee||Bathtub cleaner, outdoor plants|
|Jumper cables||Duck bone|
Fortunately, all the dogs and cats that swallowed the above items made full recoveries.
The same can't be said for their owners' bank accounts, however. VPI policyholders spent almost $3 million in 2010 getting help for pets that swallowed foreign objects.
The well-known phrase 'The dog ate my homework' sounds ridiculous until you realize some of the really strange stuff companion animals have been known to consume.
Lucky for the Fido's and Fluffies who swallowed the 60 weird items above, their owners got veterinary help in time to save them from their dietary indiscretions.
Tragically, not every pet who ingests a foreign object is so fortunate. Many pets suffer permanent damage. Others do not survive the experience. As always, preparation is priceless when it comes to keeping your beloved companion safe and healthy.
The following tips will go a long way toward insuring your own dog or cat never needs to be rushed to an emergency vet clinic due to ingestion of a foreign object or toxin.
Pet Proof Your Home
Family pets are very much like children – many require near constant supervision and vigilance on your part to keep harmful objects out of their reach.
To do a thorough job of pet-proofing your home, it's a good idea to get down on the floor to see what your dog or cat sees at his eye level. Then remove any temptations you never noticed before, like paper clips or other small items that have fallen to the floor.
Pay particular attention to bathroom and kitchen floors, checking for items like loose pills, vitamins, M&M's, and liquid spills.
Move electrical cords out of reach. Also move or dispose of plants and other indoor foliage, especially if you have a kitty. Lots of cats like to nibble on house plants, and you might be surprised which ones are toxic.
Also consider whether any of your lifestyle habits might be dangerous for your pet. One that comes immediately to mind is cigarette smoking.
Also check the garage, garden and yard for potential pet hazards.
Supervise Your Pet
If your dog or cat lived in the wild, she'd have plenty of things to occupy her time and stimulate her mind.
Companion animals by contrast live safer, more comfortable existences than their wild counterparts, but they still have natural instincts which drive them to explore, touch, taste, tear, claw, chew and so on.
If you have a young, exceptionally curious or bored pet, it may be necessary to keep a continuous close eye on her. This seems to be especially true for dogs. Training your dog or modifying her behavior is one way to help her understand what she can and can't touch around the house. This works especially well in families where someone is able to be home most of the time to reinforce good behavior.
Of course, even the most well-mannered pup will get into things if left alone for extended periods of time.
If your dog spends significant time at home alone, crate training is a great way to keep her safe and away from potential household hazards during unsupervised periods.
And believe it or not, even kitties can benefit from having their own cozy crate.
Don't forget your pet can also find things to ingest outdoors on a walk or hike, or at a friend or relative's home. It's especially important to supervise your dog or cat when she's in unfamiliar surroundings.
Feed a Balanced, Species-Appropriate Diet
Your dog or cat might ingest something inappropriate -- like poop, dirt, grass, rocks, even a really strange item like one of those on the above list -- due to a dietary imbalance. Many commercial pet foods contain low quality protein sources and excess grain and other fillers.
If your pet isn't being nourished at the cellular level, his body knows instinctively it needs different nutrients. That knowledge can propel him to sample a variety of unusual items in his quest to feel satiated.
Feeding your dog or cat a balanced, species-appropriate diet, preferably raw, will provide him with all the nutrients he needs at the cellular level. This might reduce or even eliminate his desire to snack on weird, non-food substances.
Keep Your Pet's Body and Mind Active
A pet with energy to burn or who is bored will often get into trouble just to relieve tension in her mind and body.
By contrast, a well-exercised pet is much less likely to go in search of something inappropriate to chew on.
Consistent daily aerobic exercise for your pet is the goal. It's important to elevate your pet's heart rate for 20 minutes during each exercise session to achieve optimum physical and mental benefits.
If, like me, you live where winter weather discourages outdoor exercise, you still have lots of options to exercise your dog.
In order to manage your pet's loneliness and boredom when she's home by herself, make sure to provide her with appropriate toys to keep her busy and mentally challenged. The Clever K9 treat-release puzzle toy is a great option for dogs of any age or size.
In my house, I stuff several toys a day with canned pumpkin to keep my pack distracted and less likely to get into things around my house during the day.