What to do if your dog eats something they aren’t supposed to - Advice from the Field Day Vet

Uh oh, looks like your favourite pair of socks is missing!  No matter how closely we watch our dogs at home or out and about, many of them manage to find and eat things they shouldn’t. The types of things they eat vary from chew toys to a bag of cat food, with possible side effects being just as varied. 
First things first, don't panic! Call your vet and see what advice they have for the specific situation. Often things that may seem harmless can be very dangerous and others are not as much of a concern.
Some of the most common yet odd things that dogs eat are stones (no idea why), socks, underwear, plastic, chew toys, squeakers from toys, towels, cloths, kids toys, sanitary items like tampons, corn cobs and bones. Some pooches have a pallet for more decadent snacks like chocolate and dried fruits, but each to their own! 
So, what happens if your dog has eaten something? The most common thing that vets will do is induce vomiting with medications or charcoal to try and get rid of the what they have ingested. For foods like chocolate or dried fruits, vomiting or stomach pumping is often the best course of action. This method won’t be used if the dog has swallowed something that is either sharp or an irritant as it could cause more damage coming back up. Further treatments are needed often after these to ensure that your pooch is safe. 
If vomiting doesn’t work or can’t be performed safely, other options vary between

  • Endoscopies (sending a camera and forceps into the stomach to retrieve the item)
  • Surgery to find the item
  • Watching and waiting to see if things pass naturally 
  • Possibly an enema
Some dogs are what we call in the industry ‘repeat offenders’ and clinics generally have a couple of regulars they see more than once after ingesting something they shouldn’t. Sometimes no matter what an owner does a determined dog will often find a way!
I have seen too many things to remember coming out of dogs in various ways.From the retriever who ate an entire box fundraising chocolate bars, who then had the sweetest smelling vomit I’ve ever seen. To a german shepherd puppy who had eaten almost a full laundry hamper of underwear. 
I have done surgery on one particular bulldog to retrieve a ball the owner saw her swallow and was sure was the cause of her sickness, only to find hair clips, bra straps, a ball, a sock and random pieces of rubber in the stomach too despite the dog being happy as Larry.
Another stomach-turning event (for clinic staff) occurred when we had to induce vomiting in a Daschund who had raided the bathroom bin and vomited up a bunch of tampons and condoms.
So what common household things should you keep far away from your hungry hound?
  • Dried fruit (sultanas or raisins)
  • Chocolate
  • Corn cobs
  • Very salty or fatty foods (be careful at parties!)
  • Sharp plastic or bones 
  • Any sort of bait such as snail or rat bait
Overall it is important to try and avoid your dog eating things they shouldn’t, but if they do, don’t panic! Call your vet and they will come up with a plan of action.