Why Does My Dog Eat Socks, and When Should I Call the Vet?

Bulldog biting child's socks
Carol Yepes/Moment Open/Getty Images

Why Pets Eat Odd and Icky Things:

Sometimes we know, and sometimes we don't. The choice of food may be debated, but one should consider other potential factors, such as boredom, tempting socks, or possibly hunger. In some cases, the item smells and tastes "good" to the pet, sometimes it is out of curiosity or boredom, and some will remain a mystery.

When To Call the Vet:

In addition to vomiting and difficult bowel movements, another potential worry is intestinal obstruction.

Call your vet if your dog is lethargic, experiencing pain in its abdomen or is vomiting, having difficulty defecating or any other signs of illness — the sooner the better.

Undergarments, in general, seem to be very enticing to dogs. In addition to worrying about the mechanical obstruction caused by an indigestible piece of clothing, some undergarments are toxic, as in the case of the dog who ate gel inserts from a bra.

What Can Be Done:

The first thing to do is diligently pick up all socks and other items of clothing and keep them out of your dog's reach. Make sure your dog is getting enough food for his age, weight and lifestyle. Keep him active — go for a walk, play ball, enroll in an obedience class. There are many creative dog toys such as the Buster Cube or Kong, to keep your dog puzzled and engaged to help fight boredom and hopefully divert his attention away from the sock-eating missions.

Taking a Closer Look:

Richard Young DVM, ABVP posted photos on his clinic Facebook page of "Juicy," a dog whose owner feared he had eaten a sock. She wasn't sure but had her suspicions.

He was brought into the clinic because he stopped eating and drinking. His pre-surgery radiographs showed a gas buildup in his intestines.

Juicy went to surgery, where this sock was found obstructing the intestinal tract. Socks (and other assorted items) pose a serious danger when ingested.

If you suspect your pet has eaten something he or she shouldn't, even before clinical signs appear (vomiting, painful abdomen, trying to defecate, not eating), call your veterinarian for advice.

Juicy was fortunate to be brought in quickly to Dr. Young's hospital. The surgery was a success, and Juicy is doing very well. Thanks, Dr. Young!