Icky Things Pets Eat - Also Known As Dietary Indiscretion

My pet just ate a... ?

Dog in the Garbage Bag
Dog in the Garbage Bag. Getty/Cultura/Frank and Helena

Just when you think you are taking the best care of your pets as possible, they find something icky to chew on! Why do dogs (and cats) eat the things they do? We may never know all the answers to this seemingly simple question. Probably because it smelled good, they were hungry, or just plain curious. Is it something you should be concerned about? Maybe.

Eating Something in the Yard: Dealing With Doggie Dietary Indiscretion

The first thing to assess is if the item was organic (dead animal, manure, etc.) or something plastic or toxic.

Possible sources for organic material -- cats or other dogs (or other predators, such as coyotes, if you live in a rural area) may leave their "hunted prize" in an area accessible to your pet.

Household cleaners, fertilizers, other substances such as antifreeze, snail bait and other pesticides, discarded chemical containers, cocoa mulch, blood meal, and more should be stored safely away from pets at all times.

"Organic" Snacks

These include fecal or rotting matter, dead animals. Call your vet to discuss what you found/know about the ingestion. Watch your pet closely for any listlessness, vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite and call your vet immediately if anything out of the ordinary is noted.

Toxin Ingestion or Exposure

Call your veterinarian immediately. Some toxins, such as antifreeze, are immediately life-threatening, while others take time for signs to develop. Call your veterinarian or Poison Control center for advice.

There are pet-specific poison control centers such as National Animal Poison Control Center and Pet Poison Helpline that will able to assist you or your veterinarian with the case.

Inanimate Object Ingestion

These are items that don't always sound tasty: sprinkler heads, socks, rocks, balls, and so on.

Call your veterinarian as soon as it happens to touch base. Each case is different, and while some items aren't an immediate emergency, others, such as a sharp object, are.

Always consult your vet to determine the best course of action. Possible problems include obstruction or perforation (stomach or intestine), chronic metal poisoning (due to ingested particles being digested/reacting with the body), and rectal tears.

Please note: This article has been provided for informational purposes only. If your pet is showing any signs of illness, please consult a veterinarian as quickly as possible.