Chewing over pet dangers

ANIMAL Medical Centre veterinarian David Allen says the Launceston clinic all too often has to deal with dogs and cats eating something they shouldn’t have.

Animal Medical Centre veterinarian David Allen looks through a mould of a canine jaw as he discusses the strange objects that animals eat.  Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

Animal Medical Centre veterinarian David Allen looks through a mould of a canine jaw as he discusses the strange objects that animals eat. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

‘‘Perhaps not weekly but for a clinic of our size we would get something like this fortnightly,’’ Dr Allen said.

He said puppies and kittens were the worst offenders and, depending on the item and if it got stuck, the mistake could be fatal.

Rocks, sticks, golf balls, needles, fabrics and plastics were the main offending objects.

However, the occasional heirloom or wedding or engagement ring were not out of the question.

‘‘I worked in England and I remember there was a dog that swallowed a very expensive diamond brooch, so it was important to get that out,’’ Dr Allen said.

‘‘With dogs the first two to three years are the high-risk years for them being naughty and eating things.

‘‘You can have dogs that just love their toys and love destroying them, swallowing pieces of plastic, which then lodges in their stomach and it acts like a bull valve.

‘‘If you are lucky some items will pass.

‘‘Sometimes the dog is able to eat things, but other times this foreign object is going to stop the dog from being able to empty its tummy so it vomits out.’’

Dr Allen said he once operated on a clumber spaniel on three different occasions to remove stones and recalled reading about a dog that had swallowed 17 golf balls.

He said cats were more fastidious and presented with less problems than dogs, but he warned that bones too could often get caught in the throat of animals, creating another reason for an emergency trip to the vet.

‘‘We do think giving raw bones is good for their teeth but just sometimes you will have a bone that gets stuck in the throat,’’ he said.

‘‘That is very obvious and the dog is walking around with its mouth open – that’s an emergency and we often see them out of hours.

‘‘Make sure the bone is large enough so the dog works at it instead of swallowing it, that’s when they get stuck.’’

The veterinarian of 22 years said it was difficult to keep everything that had potential to be harmful away from animals.

He said if pets were known chewers, owners should be mindful to watch the animal’s mood.

If there was any evidence of vomit after food and water, then they should seek veterinary advice.

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