PDSA vets recently came to the rescue of a tiny four-month-old Yorkshire Terrier that swallowed a large plastic toy seahorse!
Tina Brannan (29) from Chaddesden, Derby, was distraught when her mischievous pup, Tia, pounced on one of her children’s favourite toys and raced up the garden with it clenched in her teeth. When Tina tried to retrieve the stricken toy, Tia gobbled it up.
“I simply couldn’t believe it when she swallowed the seahorse. It seemed surreal and happened so quickly. Tia is just a delicate little pup and the seahorse toy is pretty big, so I was amazed that it was physically possible for her to swallow it.”
Tina rushed Tia to Derby PDSA PetAid hospital for emergency surgery where PDSA vets removed the toy from her stomach. PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Vicky Sims, says: “When we measured the toy seahorse it was five inches long and one-and-a-half inches wide. Considering Tia is still only a puppy and her dimensions are pretty small, it really is amazing that she managed to swallow it.
“It’s very lucky that Tina saw what happened otherwise the seahorse could have caused a fatal blockage or infection if left undetected.”
Tia spent two nights at Derby PDSA PetAid hospital before being allowed home where she has gone on to make a full recovery. Today, the only physical evidence of the ordeal is a two inch scar on Tia’s stomach.
Tina adds: “She eats like a horse so it’s quite ironic that she swallowed one. We are keeping a very close eye on her to prevent anything like this from happening again. She’s a bit like a mini vacuum cleaner; anything that gets in her way, edible or not, she tucks right in.”
PDSA has a varied casebook of pets that have swallowed unusual objects and can now add a seahorse toy to this list.
Here’s the charity’s list of the top ten most common foreign bodies which pets have got their teeth into!
6. Corn on the cob cores
7. Miscellaneous rubber objects e.g. household waste, bits of rubber toys
8. Fabric or clothing – socks are the most common, but PDSA vets have also seen bras and knickers too!
9. Linear foreign bodies such as – needle and thread in cats, tape cassette in dogs.
10. Plastic bags
Other bizarre items found in pet’s tummies include packs of condoms, rubber ducks, and corks! But what is it that causes pets to swallow these things?
Why do pets swallow inanimate objects?
PDSA Senior Vet, Elaine Pendlebury says: “There is actually a scientific name for this type of behaviour – pica. Dogs use their mouth to explore objects as well as to eat. Sometimes the two functions get confused and a dog will eat an object by mistake, even though it had only meant to investigate it. It can also be caused by obsessional behaviour due to a number of different factors.
“There are various treatment options to help stop pets eating inappropriate items. For example, distracting a pet with a ball or loud noise, making the item taste disagreeable using something that is safe yet tastes unpleasant, keeping dogs on a lead when they are near to tempting objects, and making sure that your dog is trained to drop an item on your command. Given that dogs can swallow a variety of different toys, make sure pets only have access to pet toys appropriate to their age and size.
“It is very important to stop dogs eating inappropriate items as they can cause serious illness if the objects become lodged in the intestine. Symptoms that may indicate your pet has something lodged in its intestines include vomiting, abdominal pain, restlessness, dehydration, lack of or no appetite, low body temperature, and elevated heart rate.”
“The best overall advice for pica is finding out why your dog is doing this and preventing it from happening but if the problem persists, contact your vet for advice.