Craziest foreign body contest

Has your pet ever swallowed something he or she shouldn’t have?

You won’t believe what other vets have removed from pets’ stomachs and intestines!

Veterinary Practice News, a magazine for vets (in which I write monthly), published the amazing results of the 2014 foreign body competition. Vets from the entire Nation submitted X-rays that show some pretty incredible objects swallowed by pets.

Sock removed from the intestine of a 4 year old German Shepherd

Be sure to read until the end, where the 3 Grand Prize winners are revealed!

  • “Dragon”, the bearded dragon apparently didn’t know the difference between his food and the Barbie’s food, since he ate a Barbie banana, which had to be surgically removed.
  • Be careful when you have your fishing supplies and bait around your pets! Elvis, a 6.5 pound puppy ate his owner’s bait (chicken liver), still attached to the fishing line and hook! This was very dangerous as the hook tore the stomach wall. However Elvis recovered well after surgery.
  • Kittens can be just as bad as puppies! One 5 month old kitten ate a plastic alien figurine. The arms actually caused it to get stuck in the intestine.
  • Cody, a 10 month old golden retriever puppy, had been vomiting for 2 days. X-rays revealed that Cody had eaten a small light bulb! Cody was pretty lucky, the light bulb actually passed on its own after a stay at the hospital on IV fluids and medications.
  • Woof, a young rat terrier, got in to the laundry basket and ate his owner’s bra! All you could see on the x-ray was one metal clip, but the vet surgically removed 14 inches of bra and bra strap.

And here are the 3 grand prize winners:

  • Kermit the frog swallowed 30 ornamental rocks from the bottom of his cage! He required surgery to remove them all.
  • Marley, a 6 year old German shorthair pointer, stole 2 entire shish kabob skewers, meat, veggies… and skewers. His owner had left them, unattended, on the kitchen counter, “for just a moment.” She removed one skewer from his mouth, after he hid under the bed. But where was the other one? X-rays revealed that the entire skewer was in his stomach! It was safely removed with surgery.
  • And we kept the most amazing winner for last: a 3 year old Great Dane vomited multiple times. Belly X-rays showed a distended stomach that contained a large amount of foreign material. During surgery, 43 and 1/2 socks were removed from his stomach!

I will always wonder why a pet would ever eat something like a sock, and think “Gee, this tastes great, let me swallow another one!” And that, 42 times???

Pets will never cease to amaze me…

Fortunately, every one of these patients did well, with or without surgery, and made a full recovery.

Beyond the cool story factor, here is my take as a surgeon:

  • Just because all of these patients recovered from their ordeal, doesn’t mean that pet owners should be lax with the many dangers facing pets. You never read the stories about the patients who did not make it…
  • Prepare yourself financially for the unexpected. If your pet got in trouble tomorrow, would you be prepared to take care of a large hospital bill? If not, please get pet insurance before it’s too late.
  • Never put your pet in front an irresistible but dangerous situation. For example, never leave food unattended on a kitchen counter or on the table. Not even for a second.
  • Secure trash bags and trash cans at all times.
  • Pets are unpredictable, and frequently get in trouble, even with the most careful and dedicated pet owners. Pet-proof your house, room after room, just like parents child-proof their house.

Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling veterinary surgeon in Pennsylvania & New Jersey. An award-winning author, he loves to share his adventures in practice along with information about vet medicine and surgery that can really help your pets. Dr. Zeltzman specializes in orthopedic, neurologic, cancer, and soft tissue surgeries for dogs, cats, and small exotics. By working with local family vets, he offers the best surgical care, safest anesthesia, and utmost pain management to all his patients. Sign up to get an email when he updates his blog, and follow him on Facebook, too!