Many dogs consider anything that looks or smells enticing to be an approved treat ready for them to eat and, as pet parents of dogs who have a curious palate know, practically everything is on the menu. While sticking your hand in your curious pup’s mouth may be a typical occurrence, you should try to avoid him getting into these circumstances in the first place as much as possible.
“In general, I tell people to assume their pets will get into things, as even the most seemingly undesirable items can be appealing to a pet,” said Dr. Stephanie Liff, DVM and owner of Pure Paws Veterinary Care of Clinton Hill Brooklyn, NY. To help prove Liff’s point further, here just a few crazy things dogs have nibbled on, gnawed at and, eventually, eaten:
Hudson, Age 1, Puggle
Craziest thing eaten: Q-tips. “My puppy Hudson is obsessed with finding and eating Q-tips out of the bathroom trash, I have to open up his mouth to get them out before he swallows them,” said his owner, Callie, from Brick, NJ.
While they may cause obstruction in rare cases, Q-tips won’t become too troublesome for most pets who get their paws on them. “My own dog ate 499 Q-tips when I was in vet school and he just passed cotton in his feces for several days,” Liff said. Potential signs that could signal a problem would include vomiting, diarrhea and anorexia.
Zeeva, Age 4, Australian Cattle Dog
Craziest thing eaten: A whole dog toy. “My dog eats everything. She once ate a block of fire starter, she eats plastic, sticks and rocks. One year on Christmas, she swallowed a dog toy whole and we had to have it surgically removed. That toy was definitely the most expensive!” her owner, Raina from Charlottesville, VA, said.
“In situations like this, a dog toy could cause obstruction,” Liff said. “Radiographs and/or ultrasound would indicate if surgery is needed.”
Ridge, Age 4, Hound Mix
Craziest thing eaten: Pain killers. “Soon after we adopted my dog, he got into a bottle of old pain reliever pills that my boyfriend had from a dental surgery. He couldn’t remember if the bottle had been finished or if there were still pills in there. I had to induce vomiting and then pick through the puke to try to locate any pills floating around in the vomit. I couldn’t find any, and he was fine, but it sure was a lovely introduction to being a pet parent,” said Rachel from New York, NY.
“Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like Advil and Tylenol are toxic to dogs and cats,” Liff said. “My recommendation for ingestion of either pain killer would be hospitalization for decontamination therapy, which would consist of IV fluids, activated charcoal and monitoring of liver and kidney values.”
Chelsea, Age 7, Maltipoo
Craziest thing eaten: A Christmas ornament. “When she was only one or two-years-old, Chelsea ate an ornament, I freaked and Googled what to do like crazy. I found that I could give her bread soaked in milk and apparently that would help grab all the ornament pieces. Luckily, that worked and we didn’t have to take her to the vet on a holiday when most offices would have been closed,” said her owner, Taryn, from Princeton, NJ.
Dodger, Age 6, Chiweenie
Craziest thing eaten: Gum off of the sidewalk. “Dodger loves to scavenge eat peppers that fall off the counter while we cook, ants or other bugs that get into the house, chap stick and hand lotion, too. But his favorite unapproved thing to eat is used gum that people spit out onto the street. It is absolutely gross. Sometimes, if I hadn’t realized that he had picked it up, I would notice him chomping and walking happily, like a person chewing on a wad of gum in their mouth. He’s done it so often now, that I all I have to do is say, ‘Drop it,’ and snap my fingers and he’ll spit it out, but at first I would have to stick my fingers into his mouth and fish it out,” said his owner, Francisco, from Union City, NJ.
Rocky, Age 11, Boxer
Craziest thing eaten: A plastic bag. “Our dog Rocky ate a plastic bag, but we didn’t know it until my husband pulled it out of his butt! Later, he took a bag of chips off of the counter and ate every chip and left the bag. I guess he learned his lesson,” said Monique from Dingmans Ferry, PA.
“We see [plastic bag eating] cause intestinal obstruction in a lot of cats and fewer dogs,” Liff says. If your pet seems uncomfortable, is vomiting, has diarrhea or isn’t eating, call your veterinarian so that they can diagnose the problem.
Max, Black Lab
Craziest thing eaten: Crayons. “My dog growing up used to get into everything: Bagel dough that was rising on the counter (his stomach had to be pumped), a full bag of rice (again, stomach pumped), my sister’s chocolate birthday cake that my mom had to try to piece together so it didn’t look sad when she brought it to the table, but most notably, Max loved to eat Crayons. I grew up thinking all dog poop was colorful like M&M cookies with little colorful dots everywhere,” Rachel from New York, NY, said.
“Crayons are non toxic and a teacher of mine actually once recommended feeding different cats different colors of crayons to determine which cat was defecating outside of the litter box,” Liff said.
Mila, Age 1, Lab/Terrier Mix
Craziest thing eaten: A pair of sunglasses. “I was dog-sitting Mila and, while my back was turned for just a few minutes, she managed to eat a pair of sunglasses. Once I realized that part of the lens she had cracked was broken into a few pieces and that one of the arms was nowhere to be found, I took her to the vet. They recommended Wonder Bread, the spongey consistency kind of forms a mold around sharp stuff and helps them pass it,” said Jaclyn from Los Angles, CA.
While some dogs just have a casual compulsion to eat anything that smells like food to them, dogs who frequently crave and ingest non-food items may have a medical issue called pica.
“The best advice for any pet parent of a dog who eats non-food items is to puppy-proof the home, and for pets who are affected by pica, a disorder in which they seek out foreign material, a basket muzzle can often help prevent more serious complications,” Liff said.