Vets X-ray contest reveals animals’ strange appetites |

Vets X-ray contest reveals animals’ strange appetites

GRETCHEN NORTONSpecial to the Daily
Special to the DailyX-ray revealed a stick greater than a foot long in this dog's stomach. A recent veterinarians contest brought out the bizarre in animal eating trends.

Summit County, CO ColoradoSILVERTHORNE Veterinarians save the lives of dogs that eat the wrong thing. In a feat that might astound a professional sword swallower, a young puppy managed to swallow an 11-inch steak knife and lived to tell about it. The only evidence of his bizarre appetite is on an X-ray. It was one of the entries in a contest asking veterinarians to send in X-rays of their patients with unusual items in their stomachs. Items such as rocks, sticks, underwear, fishing weights and jewelry were found in a variety of dogs and other pets.

The winner of the contest was a snake that swallowed two light bulbs without breaking either one of them. But most of the entries were X-rays of dogs. The winner of the dog category of the contest was a Samoyed who had eaten more than eight batteries of differing sizes, seven rocks, a toy raccoon, a marble, two broken light bulbs, machine parts and a variety of staples. Some of the other winning entries included a Labrador with 14 golf balls in his stomach and a boxer with 208 rocks of various sizes. There was also a pug with expensive taste; the 7-month old pup swallowed his owner’s 2-carat diamond ring.For a variety of reasons, our canine pets seem to enjoy gobbling up the oddest things. Many of the items that were eaten could be associated with food residue or scents. For instance, glass from a broken spaghetti sauce jar was eaten by a dog cleaning up the tasty spill on the floor. However, it’s not known why a dog would like to eat batteries. And even though dogs are omnivores – rocks and sticks don’t seem very appetizing.

The chief sign a dog will give if it has ingested an object that it can’t digest is vomiting. Abdominal pain in a dog can also be shown through stretching its lead feet in front in what’s called the “praying position.”In most cases a major surgery is necessary to retrieve foreign objects from a dog’s stomach or intestines. The operation involves general anesthesia and a large abdominal incision. Costs can run over $1,000 for such a surgery.While these stories all had happy endings, it is important to remember that these pets underwent surgery. It is better to prevent foreign body ingestion than to treat it with surgery. Keeping the trash can secure or behind closed doors is one of the best ways to keep your dog safe. It is also important to pick up any household items small enough to be swallowed. When walking your dog outdoors, be aware of what your pet is sniffing or licking.

Visit to view some of the more unusual X-rays sent in to the contest and for tips on keeping your pet safe.

Dr. Gretchen Norton is a veterinarian for the Summit Veterinary Service and can be reached at

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