We Share Your Pain

Jo Marshall,CVT, NREMT
Senior Veterinary Information Specialist

Pets can get into anything! And their owners feel terrible and guilty that they let it happen.  But I am here to tell you, sometimes you just cannot prevent it.  Dogs, especially are just going to do what dogs are going to do regardless of what we feel or think about it.  We have all had some bad days with our pets and thankfully, most days with our furry friends are the best, but sometimes when things go wrong, it goes really wrong.

These things seem to happen when it is the least convenient and the most stressful time for us, the pet owner. I sometimes wonder if dogs in particular, are opportunists or if they are experiencing the same stress that we do and respond to it in really self-destructive ways.  Take for instance the busy holiday season we have just survived. We are all busy with baking, shopping, decorating, and many times we have guests in the house. This is always the time that Fido will pick to raid your visiting Grandmother’s suitcase of her weeks’ worth of medications or go shopping under the Christmas tree and eat a raisin filled fruit cake or a box of chocolates that your friend left for you.

You may have a particular challenging dog that gets into anything and everything and just when you think you have the entire environment pet-proofed, that over-achiever dog develops a new life skill like the ability to open a cabinet or door. Or they suddenly decide that something that they have never looked at before is now the new highly sought-after thing to investigate. Again, I sometimes think that they are just opportunists.

We have other exposures where we may have a pet get into an illicit drug. The owner is worried about our judgment of the situation and maybe even concerned about legal ramifications. I will assure you, we are not here to judge; our sole goal is to provide your pet with the best possible care to survive whatever has happened regardless of the exposure.

Again, we do not judge here! We are all pet owners and we have all been humiliated a time or two by our own pets! We are all pet owners who even with our experiences of working in a poison control center, have had the unthinkable happen in our own homes more than we would like to admit.  I asked my co-workers to share some of their own pet horror stories with me, I got the most hilarious accumulation of stories that I just had to share will all of you! These stories are hysterical now but at the time, we had a pretty stressed out pet owner (even though we are trained professionals, our pets are all part of our families as yours are to you).

I am going to start with a few of my own dog tales of the things that my pets have gotten into over the years.  I had a very naughty Rat Terrier that lived the life of a raider of all foods. She was only 12# but ate 2 full bags of marshmallows one day while I was at work. She was an opportunist and our other dog could open the cabinet doors in the kitchen. So he opened them and she did the eating. When I came home that evening she looked “jet-puffed” and until I got into the kitchen, I had no idea what she had gotten into. The most interesting part of that ingestion was her marshmallow poops for the next 24 hours. The one ingestion that my dogs have done that I have never been able to figure out involved a 20 bag of flour that I had setting on my kitchen counter for Christmas baking. My Vizsla, Dash jumped up and tore the bag open and spread it all over. The worst part was the heating vent was just below where the bag was setting on the countertop. The flour spilled into the heat duct work and I was unfortunately reminded of good old Dash getting into the flour every time the furnace turned on and flour gently dusted the entire house. I cleaned up that mess for months! My Labrador tore the closet doors off the hinges in my office to get to the Girls Scout Cookies I had hidden from both him and my kids. I think he ate about 4 boxes of Thin Mints that day. That dog has such a cast iron gut that I was never able to induce emesis with him with hydrogen peroxide. He was no worse for the wear! Just this fall my little female Vizsla chewed a light bulb that I had changed and briefly set on the table to take to the recycling. In five minutes or less she had chewed it up and again, no harm done.

I have many more stories like this with my dogs but it is time to share the love, or should I say, the humiliation with my co-workers and their pets.

Tanya shared a fishy tale: Years ago, we were at our cabin in the woods. My husband threw the grease from our fish fry into the snow, which my two dogs went and ate without us knowing. An hour later we hopped into our car to head home, and both dogs began vomiting fish grease all over our back seat! The car stunk for 6 months and the seats were permanently stained with grease.

Becca told me about her cat and what he passed in the litter box:  I was scooping the cat’s litter box and noticed a bright pink substance strangely resembling bubble gum within a piece of stool.  After some investigating, I found a full, intact, standard size birthday balloon.   How he managed to swallow it and pass the thing, I’ll never know.  But he lives to tell the tale!

Mary’s cat, Lyman, eats ribbon off gifts. She has a no-ribbon policy in her house since she found ribbon in his stool…. still curled up like on the present!

Lindsey’s cat Hunni, at 3 months of age, ate a big wooden thumb tack. She plucked it right off a new cork board I just bought and swallowed it…right in front of me! I couldn’t believe it! I was in tech school at the time and was working at a vet clinic part time. I dropped her off at the clinic on the way to school. Everyone at the clinic thought she’d end up needing surgery due to the size of the tack and how small she was, but her x-rays showed the tack was moving through. It made it all the way to her colon while I was at school…so I got to take her home that night. She pooped out the giant tack a few hours after we got home!

Chris related: My lovely Nala decided the eating a garbage can full of week old fish, a tub of butter, and other various things would be a great idea… Of course, the tech in me was conflicted, do I vomit her and risk aspiration with the butter, or not and risk an obstruction with all the other stuff she ingested…Well thankfully she made the decision for me by vomiting not once, not twice, but three times in my room, the only place in the house with carpet…. Needless to say, it took quite a while to get the smell out of the carpet! And this is just her most recent endeavor.  Hmmm – I think Chris has a perpetual trouble seeker!

Sandra’s little pug puppy has turned into quite the litterbox turd burglar! Yuck!!

Ashley told me about her mom’s dog. After her mom scooped the cat box into a plastic grocery sack and set out on the porch to take out to the trash. She turned her back and it disappeared. The entire sack full of cat poop passed whole through my dog and was discovered the next day.  That one is a double yuck!

Casey told me about her dog Nala and the fortune cookie incident! Her dog Nala ate a fortune cookie (wrapper and all). The next day she vomited up the entire cookie with the wrapper still around it intact with cookie and fortune still inside. I should have read the fortune but never did, I still regret not reading that one.

Charlotte’s childhood dog ate crayons and Play-Doh constantly. Her poop was always a rainbow of colors.  I, too had a crayon eater in my life, poop patrol was always laughable!

Tabatha shared a story about her newly adopted bloodhound! She ate an entire pair of women’s size 10 moccasin style slippers. I don’t mean she tore them up. I mean she completely ingested both shoes. Everything was either vomited or passed. No surgery required. That one was a close call!

Kristi’s dog Meka ingested a lot of things but the most memorable was the time she ate one whole leg of a pair of my jeans. Some H202 later and she threw it up…whole! I wasn’t expecting that, I thought she would have chewed it up and swallowed pieces of it. Since then we have found out she has a chronic liver issue & when it acts up that’s when she starts eating strange things.

Lacy’s little Maltese; Bailee who was 9 years old at the time, had unknowingly gotten into a bag of those googly plastic eyes that you use for crafting.  The way we found out was she vomited off the end of our bed in the middle of the night and I turned on the lights and there were 2 eyeballs staring back at me…literally! We figure she must have gotten into the bag a couple days before and a couple of the eyeballs hung out in her stomach.  When I was picking up the yard the next day I found a stool that also had an eyeball in it staring back at me!

Jess’s old man cat started eating ribbon from the Christmas gifts, which certainly isn’t interesting or unusual, except the ribbon was printed with words like Merry Christmas and Ho! Ho! Ho!  Made for some very comical litter box scooping. You must look for humor in that chore!

Sharon’s dog ate an entire roll of toilet paper.  Since this product breaks down when wet (not a big FBO risk) and he was being treated for chronic diarrhea, this turned out to be a win-win with a brief period of solid stools!

Casey’s cat Tobi ate the nipple off many of my daughter’s bottles when she was a wee babe.  And yes – one ended up getting obstructed and surgery was needed.  Just an FYI on this exposure, this is common for cats to eat the nipples off baby bottles, requiring surgically removal.

But here are my 2 favorite co-worker pet stories:

Jenna said her fox terrier ate her engagement ring when he was 6 months old. We brought him to the vet and they took an x-ray. My ring was in Tucker’s stomach, but it was too big to pass through his intestines. Surgery was anticipated. Before going into surgery, the DVM induced vomiting and up came my ring. After being in Tucker’s stomach for a while, my ring came out sparkling and shining!

Jess related that her dog once ate a two-piece swim suit and both pieces came out whole about 2 weeks later while on  a walk. I was wondering what had happened to it! Really funny to see but I was so thankful it didn’t obstruct.

So, there you have it! We are all in the same boat with these crazy pets of ours! We are not here to judge, but are here to help you with these very stressful moments of pet ownership. We are here 24/7 to give you a hand and put your mind at ease along with providing understanding and compassionate care recommendations.