Once you are bitten by the "trials bug" anything and everything that is about to be thrown away ends up in a bag or box to be used in our training.

I too am guilty of this, but this article is written from the point of view of being a veterinary nurse. After firstly thinking "great, another article" my next immediate thought is "if swallowed can they breathe?" So this written article I hope will encourage people to sort through their bits and bobs and think of the safety aspect of our articles.

 There are hundreds of things that we come across in everyday life that are useful in our sport. Bits of carpet, sponge pan scourers, corks, pegs, pieces of hosepipe, milk bottle tops, pine cones, bits of string, gun cartridges to name but a few, but how many of them could kill our dogs within a few minutes ? Although any articles that may be swallowed can be a potential danger to our dogs, 4 of those articles mentioned can kill our dogs within minutes if swallowed and become lodged in the throat.

  • Full size sponge pan scourers, the kind with the green scrubber on one side. Medium to small dogs are more likely to have a problem if swallowed.
  • A medium sized dog was rushed into my practice very close to death due to the green scrubby bit being chewed creating a loop of nylon that got stuck around a tooth which then didn’t allow the sponge to pass down the oesophagus therefore cutting off its air supply.
  • Corks, yet again more of a risk to the medium and smaller breeds, get stuck completely blocking their air supply
  • Milk bottle tops, a definite danger to all sizes. If swallowed and gets stuck the wrong way around the air supply is definitely cut off. Any kind of lid whether it be milk tops or small metal lids a reasonable sized hole(s) should be put into the lid to allow the passage of air should it get stuck.
  • Pine cones, due to their natural shape, they are a definite for getting stuck especially if partially open.

 So now, assuming that we have all been sensible over our choice of articles, it can still be an unfortunate accident should our dog swallow one. If it does, we next need to check that it passes through …............. yep, you got it, searching through poo !!! On the odd occasion, they may vomit it up. Generally it takes a few hours for food etc to pass through the stomach and into the bowel. If an article or even a sock or something has been swallowed and not passed through within 24hrs then you should look out for any or a combination of the following

 • Vomiting

• Diarrhoea

• Loss of appetite

• Lethargy and or depression

• Fever or trembling

 If an article is swallowed and it forms a complete blockage in the intestines where food cannot pass, this is known as a complete blockage resulting in a bloated painful stomach with sudden onset constant vomiting, dog refuses even its favourite food, throws up any water it drinks and can suddenly become very weak. The most common cause is corn on the cob remnants but can be caused with other things. An incomplete blockage, where some food can pass can cause vomiting on and off for days or weeks. An example of this was a Staffordshire Bull Terrier was xrayed due to vomiting and had to have 3 golf balls removed from its stomach, it had been playing with them 3 weeks before!

If your dog shows any of the signs or symptoms mentioned above please seek veterinary attention. Part of the routine treatment would be to take xrays, though there are few materials other than metal, stone and bone that show up clearly, cloth and most plastics do not show but it is diagnosed via symptoms and soft tissue and gas appearance. If left untreated, a lodged article if caught in the early stages can be successfully surgically removed, if left the intestines can start to die as blood is restricted in the surrounding tissue. In addition to it being extremely painful toxic enzymes are released into the blood stream inducing shock. Eventually the intestinal wall breaks down, perforates and results in peritonitis (infection in the abdominal space) and sepsis ( infection of the blood stream).........this can be fatal. I know I seem to have rambled on a bit about this but if you have read to the end of my article, one day, should your dog ever show any of these symptoms it may prompt you to seeking veterinary advise sooner rather than later, just in case as we cannot watch everything that our dogs are doing, as I found with Ross, my own dog, who vomited up 6 peach stones within 36 hrs. I had no idea he had eaten them, it was obviously while out on a walk but that too could have ended in disaster.

I hope you will never have to refer to this article, luckily it doesn’t happen that often, but just by being a tiny bit more thoughtful before tossing yet another ‘useful’ article into your box it could save the life of your faithful friend.

 Val Joughin