Swallowed objects are no fun for pets or their owners – or vets! These situations lead to sleepless nights, ruined toys or clothing, plus x-rays, testing and even exploratory surgeries. You can never assume a pet will naturally pass what it shouldn’t have swallowed. Above and beyond endangering your beloved pet’s life, foreign objects end up being expensive.

Are you prepared to cover the cost of an ingestion emergency?

Let’s face it – most pet owners aren’t. There are a dozen other things requiring your limited funds and a sudden ingestion emergency will only lead to stress and heartache.

Here are a few tips to avoid hazardous situations by maintaining a tidy living space and pet-proofing your home:

Get on your hands and knees and thoroughly evaluate each room from a “pet’s-eye” view. Slowly. It is most important that you take your time. Think about what could possibly interest your pet – or toddler! Remember if it’s something a toddler can reach or get into, it’s at the perfect height for your pet to do the same. Be on the lookout for:

  • Cabinets and drawers that are easy to open
  • Garbage cans and laundry hampers without lids
  • Decorative and air freshening items that can be knocked over
  • Any and all medication – either in bottles or packages (child proof does not equal dog proof)
  • Loose cords or wires
  • Open sewing kits with strings and needles
  • Anything small enough to be picked up, chewed and swallowed
  • Baby pacifiers or other small toys
  • Dirty clothing laying on the floor (pets find it irresistable!)
  • Empty food wrappers or other trash
  • Lovely plants that may be toxic if chewed or ingested
  • Cleaning agents, chemicals or apparati (sponges, toilet brushes, etc)
  • Easy access to the toilet – some self-cleaning agents may be toxic and can cause oral burns
  • Pet chew toys that are starting to break into smaller pieces
  • Fertilizers, chemicals, weed killers, pesticides and any automotive fluids in the garage
  • Holiday decorations like tinsel or fake holly are especiallytempting for cats

What about toys?

Just because something is marketed as a pet toy does not mean it’s always appropriate for your pet. The key word is always.

Make sure to provide your pet with appropriately sized toys to avoid choking hazards or intestinal blockages. Be sure the toy is strong enough to survive your heavy chewer or small enough not to hurt your delicate nibbler. If you have a mixed pet household you will need to monitor play to be sure your Rottie doesn’t pick up and start playing with Miss Kitty’s catnip mouse or sparkly golfball. If your dog is a professional “toy skinner” be sure stuffed animals are not filled with toxic materials or plastic beans.

Have a place to store toys that’s out of reach so you may choose what your pet gets to play with. Put toys away when it’s no longer an appropriate playtime or you are going out.

Never leave your pet unattended with questionable toys. The most common time for a pet to get in trouble is the very same time for your children: when they are unsupervised.

Clean rubber/plastic toys regularly with mild soap and water or toss the stuffie in the washer to eliminate debris stuck on by slobber. Inspect toys regularly to be sure they are still safe to chew on and play with. Cut off little pieces of dangling string. Many rawhide, bone or rubber chew toys can develop sharp edges which will cut your pet’s mouth or, even worse, break off and get swallowed to cause a blockage. Consider toys that are made out of completely digestable, non-toxic materials.

Please come by and see us if you are not sure what’s the most appriopriate toy for your pet. We would be more than happy to recommend types of toys or safe enrichment items as well as share our own experiences.

Pets will eat the darnedest things. If your pet is constantly pawing at it’s face or muzzle this could be the first sign something is wrong and it’s choking.

If your pet refuses to eat or is continually vomiting, dry heaving and/or coughing, contact us at (661) 248-7387, Kern Emergency & Urgent Care at (661) 322-6019 / www.ervets.net, or the nearest 24-hour emergency clinic immediately! You can also contact ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control at www.aspca.org.

Be sure to bring along what it is you think your pet got into. The faster you address the problem the less expensive treatment will be and the better the chances of your pet surviving.