Canine Tip of the Day: Swallowing Glass/Sharp Objects

Canine Tip of the Day: Swallowing Glass/Sharp Objects

So you’re just starting to cook supper and as you take a glass bowl from the fridge, it slips through your fingers and shatters all over your kitchen floor.  The glass is broken and splintered into a squillion pieces, each one coated with the juices of your marinated chicken.  The smells waft through and quick as a flash, your dog appears from nowhere trying desperately to snag himself a taste of the action.  You shout for him to “leave it” as quickly as you can but he has a tongue like an electric eel and is already slurping at the juices.

Were you quick enough with your shout?
Did he swallow any glass splinters?
If he did, what will happen as they pass through his digestive system?
What should you do now?????

This is exactly the situation that faced one of our followers recently.  She was advised that she should give lots of stodgy foods like bread and or porridge and (what might appear quite surprising) cotton wool balls soaked in cream.  Off the back of her ordeal, she got in touch to ask me to write a blog for you guys … just in case.

Before I write any blog, I always try to research a topic in quite a bit of depth so that I can give you the most up-to-date information available.  On researching this subject more thoroughly, however, advice in this regard differed widely from vet to vet and I found two very different schools of thought on what should be done in such a situation, and in particular with regard to the “cotton wool ball” technique.

Obviously, the most important thing is to speak to your vet ASAP, as how likely it is that surgery will be required is largely dependant on the size of the object that has been eaten.  Shards of glass or porcelain larger than say a £1 coin would fall into this category.

DO NOT try to make the dog vomit.  There is always the chance that further damage could be done on the way back up, so that’s a definite no-no.

Firstly, call your vet ASAP to explain the situation and see what course of action they advise.  It might be that they’d like to admit the dog or possibly merely for you to watch him at home.  This decision will be made dependant on  several factors including:

* the object (and size) of what has been swallowed,
* the size and character of dog,
* whether the owner is able to observe the dog closely,
* whether the practice would be able to deal with the situation on site, or whether a referral elsewhere might be required etc.

So what about this technique of swallowing cotton wool balls soaked in milk, cream or peanut butter?  The rational behind this technique is that the cushioning provided will pad any sharp edges and protect the gut during transit.  Any small shards of glass or bits of plastic etc would get caught up in the cotton wool and hopefully just pass through, without incident.

I myself would be wary of using something non-digestible, however, as I fear this could prove problematic and could actually cause a blockage in it’s own right.  Other, safer, ways of padding a sharp foreign body are things like porridge, bread, sauerkraut and mashed potato, shredded cabbage and spaghetti – in essence anything high fibre that wont break down completely in the digestive tract and can wrap itself around the sharp points.  Mix it with something stodgy, gloopy and voluminous.  You might also try brown rice or canned pumpkin flesh but make sure that you get the plain pumpkin rather than the sweetened variety for making pumpkin tarts/pies.

If you do decide to go down this route, the important thing is to observe the dog very carefully indeed, and to be able to get him to the vet if any signs of trouble occur.


Thank you to Elizabeth Halliday for suggesting the topic for today’s blog, and to vet Rebecca Kohnke for all her help with the information contained in this blog – Rebecca, you’re a star!