Dear AKC: I have an 18-month-old Miniature Poodle who not only chews on things but consumes things. So far she has had 2 GI series with barium contrast. She has eaten an acorn, a button, rope dog toy, a three-inch corner of a washcloth and a plastic foot from a gargoyle. This does not include the things she has destroyed. This girl is 16 inches tall at the shoulder and can jump onto kitchen counters, etc. We think we have puppy-proofed the house and still she finds things that get her in trouble. I am concerned that her behavior may have serious consequences. Any suggestions? -Swallowed Whole
Dear Swallowed: This month I got a bunch of questions similar to yours about dogs consuming all sorts of items. Another reader wrote in to say he tried a hot sauce and vinegar mixture brushed on items to prevent his dog from eating things after he had eaten furniture, gloves, magazines and the sprinkler head from an automatic watering system. But all the hot sauce did was encourage the dog to lick the items! I’ve written many columns about dogs chewing things and how to redirect their teething to toys, making a toy box, putting up baby gates around the house, tethering your dog to you with a leash, as well as more training and exercise to expend all that energy which is currently directed towards chewing. But what I also noticed about all these eating episodes is that the dogs have obviously been left unsupervised! I hope nobody sits around and watches their dog destroy potentially dangerous property knowing it can harm them. I’ve made suggestions to keep the dogs in their crates when away for hours in case your dog gets bored and destructive. I myself have even gone so far as to create a room in my basement that has nothing, and I mean nothing, in it and my dog still managed to rip up floor tiles and chew on molding.
It’s impossible to protect them all the time from unauthorized ingestion. Short of making sure all items are out or reach, using a crate when supervision is not possible, it might also help to protect your pocketbook pet insurance case something bad does happen. Here’s a list of recent items that dogs swallowed and needed surgery to correct: corncob, chicken bone, string, socks, turkey skewer, old bone, threaded needle, doll head, lobster tail and the ubiquitous rubber ball.
Try as we might to keep our pets safe, they are inquisitive creatures and will occasionally swallow things without our knowledge. But if we keep them active, engaged in physical and mental exercises we can reduce their need to seek out unregulated activities.