The strange things dogs eat and the risks to their health

Every pet owner has a story of something their dog or cat ate that they shouldn’t have. But in certain cases, the item can be deadly because of its size or ingredients.

Take senior dog Ruby, who we met at Urban Animal in downtown Seattle. Owner Kary Schott checked off the long list of random items Ruby had ingested over the years.

“A bikini, socks, underwear, bras, sometimes all of those things at once. In the beginning of this year, there were two surgeries within three months of each other.”

Ruby’s most recent surgery was to remove a sweatshirt.

Veterinarian Cherri Trusheime says dogs like Ruby aren’t so uncommon.

“I’ve seen a dog, a good-sized dog, eat an entire comforter.”

Often, it will take an x-ray to figure out what the dog got into. She showed KIRO 7 one x-ray in which you can see the outline of a plastic King Kong toy that a dog swallowed whole. Trusheime has also seen broken off bully sticks lodged in an esophagus and tags, meant for the collar, ending up in the stomach.

All those dogs recovered after surgery, but there are other cases when certain foods can also come with higher risk. While chocolate is considered one of the most common foods to avoid, Dr. Trusheime says it’s the darker chocolate that’s the problem, including baker’s chocolate. Other potential toxins include Xylitol, an artificial sweetener found in gum and grapes or raisins, which are only toxic to certain breeds of dogs. Common pharmaceuticals like ibuprofen can also be dangerous as well as mood-altering drugs. Pet owners don’t always want to admit their dog got into their stash of marijuana or edibles.

“They (the dogs) just kind of are out of it, then they startle very quickly,” says Dr. Trusheime.

She tells us that THC just doesn’t agree with animals.

“I've never seen a dog that I think enjoyed being high on marijuana. I think they are incredibly freaked out.”

It’s not common for THC to be life-threatening, unless its ingested in large quantities.

Accidental ingestions can be expensive for pet owners, from medication to surgery, with costs ranging anywhere from $800 to $5,000. Take one of Dr. Trusheime’s most memorable cases: A dog that swallowed five whole rubber duckies. The boxer took them from its owner’s craft project.

“The dog went into the room where the rubber duckies were, and they were completely gone.”

As for Ruby, she’s still working on keeping her paws off the wrong stuff. Kary says “It kinda goes in streaks. I think it’s anxiety related.” That’s why Kari has put her on a kind of puppy-prozac which has helped.

Dr. Trusheime says dogs who aren't getting enough activity and have too much energy are more prone to get into trouble. She also tells us catching the accidental ingestion quickly is key. After a couple days, the item could become catastrophic to the animal’s health.

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