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When it comes to things to eat (and steal), dogs are remarkable opportunists. Turn your back for a second and they’ll snatch that snack right off the table.
Unfortunately, this foraging instinct is deeply rooted in dogs and they are not trying to “misbehave.” While training can prevent them from stealing food and other items, sometimes mishaps happen and they eat something they really shouldn’t.
In this article, we cover everything you need to know if you suspect that your pet has chewed on – and possibly swallowed – pieces of a toothpick.
The Problem with Toothpicks
Toothpicks are generally made of either plastic or wood. Logic may suggest that dogs are capable of digesting a wooden toothpick and that it’s not a serious concern. However, that’s not the case.
Both plastic and wooden toothpicks can be extremely dangerous for dogs. Toothpicks have sharp ends that can get lodged in your pet’s esophagus. Thus, can cause a partial obstruction in the digestive tract. It can also cause breathing difficulties.
Moreover, if the toothpick enters the stomach, it may pierce something and cause internal bleeding. This situation may further lead to gastrointestinal problems. The larger the toothpick, the more danger your pup might find itself in.
Preventative and Emergency Steps
Now that you know how dangerous toothpicks can be, let’s look at how you can avoid the situation and also how to deal with a dog that has managed to swallow a toothpick.
Store Toothpicks Safely
Make sure that sharp objects like toothpicks are stored well outside your dog’s reach. You must also train your dogs so that they do not steal food off the dinner table.
Call Your Vet
Toothpicks can be extremely dangerous for your digs. Therefore, you must call your vet immediately and take their advice. It would be best if you informed the veterinarian about the type and size of the toothpick and the age and breed of your dog. Based on this information, the vet might suggest a few solutions.
Wait and Watch
Sometimes, the vet may suggest you wait and see if any further symptoms appear, if any. In some positive cases, the dog chewed the toothpick so finely that the bits manage to pass through the digestive system without causing any trouble.
However, this is a tense scenario as you don’t know what might happen and all that waiting can be very stressful for the owner. Watch the dog’s stool for wooden bits and notify the vet immediately if your dog develops any symptoms like lethargy, a lack of appetite, or pain.
Treatment at Home
Sometimes, the vet recommends that you feed a piece of bread to the dog. The bread will stick to the toothpick and push it down the throat if stuck there.
The bread also covers the toothpick’s sharp edges. This remedy might ensure that the toothpick does not cause any damage to the internal organs while passing through the body. If the feces are bloody, it may be indicative that the toothpick is stuck somewhere and the dog needs help.
Endoscopic removal involves giving anesthesia to the pet. Then the endoscope is pushed down into the stomach to locate the toothpick. After finding the toothpick, tweezers are used to grab the toothpick and remove it. This method is a safe approach, especially in more serious cases.
Surgical removal may be recommended in some cases. It involves giving an anesthetic, opening up the stomach, and removing the toothpick. This method is used when the endoscope cannot reach the toothpick.
- Discomfort: If your dog is walking uncomfortably and has a poor posture, it could signal an underlying problem. In this case, the toothpick could be causing pain.
- Vomiting: Vomiting is the body’s natural method of getting rid of foreign objects. However, in this case, it’s dangerous because the toothpick might get stuck in the throat while vomiting.
- Loss of appetite: If your dog isn’t eating well, it may signal gastrointestinal problems.
- Lethargy: If your dog appears to have low energy levels, it’s a definite reason to visit the vet.
- Blood: Blood in the feces or vomit shows that the toothpick may be causing internal bleeding. Take your pet to the vet immediately.
- Fever: The temperature of a healthy dog should be around 101-102. A higher temperature is a sign of infection.
What Not To Do
A standard “remedy” adopted by pet parents is to induce vomiting. You must avoid doing this at all costs. Since a toothpick is a sharp object, inducing vomiting will do more damage than good. In the process of coming back up, the toothpick may damage the esophagus, causing more trouble.
A Quick Summary
Toothpicks should always be kept out of reach for dogs. They should be stored in a safe place and also discarded in a way that pets cannot find them. Both wooden and plastic toothpicks can be extremely dangerous to pets.
In case your dog accidentally swallows a toothpick, then you must call your vet immediately. It’s best to take their advice before making any decision to treat your dog at home. With prompt medical treatment, your dog will be just fine.