Monday, January 11, 2010


Some of our dog-owning readers may have heard that question being asked by their veterinarian and/or their friends following an episode of unusual and unacceptable behavior by their family dog. That behavior is referred to as "pica," which really means that the dog is eating and swallowing substances that are not considered food. Pica frequently leads to big problems with the digestive system. Helpful Buckeye has some stories to tell you about various unusual items dogs have swallowed, some of the treatments that were necessary, and whether the dogs survived those episodes. Here's a sneak peak at one of the items:

Be sure to answer this week's poll question in the column to the left. Also, here's a reminder of Helpful Buckeye's e-mail address, for sending your questions, ideas, and pet-related stories:

Additionally, remember that you can submit a comment directly to Questions On Dogs and Cats by clicking on "Comments" at the very end of each issue and filling out the required information.


1) Upper respiratory tract infection is a leading cause of illness and euthanasia for cats in animal shelters. Therefore, the Morris Animal Foundation is funding research on modifications in shelter conditions to reduce the spread of upper respiratory tract infection and other diseases in cats. That news item was reported this week by the American Veterinary Medical Association:

The Morris Animal Foundation has been involved in pet health research for a lot of years and you can follow the accounts of their efforts at:

2) Dog gene for OCD could aid humans

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (UPI) -- Discovery of a gene linked to obsessive-compulsive disorder in dogs could lead to better understanding of the disorder in humans, scientists in Massachusetts said.

Scientists at the Broad Institute in Cambridge studied the DNA of 92 Doberman pinschers that displayed compulsive behavior and found a common link in a gene called Cadherin 2, The Boston Globe reported Monday, noting Cadherin 2 recently was linked to autism in humans.

The dog findings will be used to study the Cadherin 2 gene in more than 300 people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, OCD, and about 400 of their relatives, said Dr. Dennis Murphy, a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health.

"Identifying a specific gene that could be a candidate gene for a complex disorder like OCD is a gift to have,'' Murphy said. "This might be a quick route in to a meaningful gene that just could be involved in the human disorder, as well.''

Dogs with OCD obsessively chase their tails, lick their legs and pace and circle in behavior similar to that of people with OCD, who obsessively wash their hands, count numbers or repeatedly check objects. Murphy said.


OK, Helpful Buckeye knows you've been eagerly awaiting our discussion of the strange items that dogs will swallow. Suffice it to say, a lot of dogs will eat just about anything they can get into their mouths, either whole or in pieces. Some cats will also inevitably swallow things they shouldn't, but not nearly with the frequency seen in dogs. This is at least partly related to a cat's more discriminating taste and eating habits. So, for this week's discussion, Helpful Buckeye will only address the problem in dogs.

Rather than simply listing all the unusual items that have been swallowed by dogs, Helpful Buckeye has decided to present some actual accounts of these episodes with dogs.

Rottweiler Puppy Eats 8 Golf Balls

That's the headline for a news item about Wally, a young Rottweiler in Boston that found something appealing about golf balls. Read the story here, along with a nice abdominal X-Ray that shows 5 of the golf balls still in the pup's stomach:

Not to be outdone by Wally, Bertie, a Pointer living in England, somehow swallowed 9 golf balls. While being examined by his veterinarian, an X-Ray also showed a bullet lodged in his abdomen near the stomach. Read the very interesting news account of Bertie's experience and be sure to watch the short video at the end of the story:

On September 29, when Keiver Guacane of Manhattan brought his five-month-old Cockapoo, Gordo, to ASPCA Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital, his beloved pup was in dire straits. The fuzzy, light-brown pooch was in critical condition, suffering from severe anemia and dangerously low blood pressure. ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Geruza Paiva examined Gordo, and immediately suspected the cause of the pup’s distress. “She was worried he may have eaten coins because he had hemolytic anemia—anemia due to red blood cell rupture—which can be caused by zinc toxicity from eating pennies,” says Dr. Louise Murray, Director of Medicine at the ASPCA. “Dr. Paiva took an x-ray and saw the coins in his stomach.” The rest of this story is at: Gordo was much more fortunate than the dogs that swallowed the golf balls. Even though he had developed an anemia, he at least didn't have to undergo abdominal surgery...and his owner was able to apply the recovered pennies to his veterinary bill!

Roxy, a Basset Hound, in Florida, apparently missed her owner while being left at home for the weekend. She got into a box of 1-inch nails and ended up at the veterinary hospital with vomiting spells. The veterinarians recovered 130 nails from Roxy's stomach! Read the short article about Roxy's experience and watch the imteresting video:

Here's another general news story with accounts from various veterinary hospitals with even more bizarre items recovered from dog's stomachs: You'll really enjoy the owner's reaction upon seeing a recovered pair of racy panties from her dog!

Then, there is this report from a veterinarian in Houston that talks about even more unusual items that were swallowed by dogs:

HOUSTON -- Pet owners may be surprised, or even disgusted, at what their dogs will eat when no one is looking. Some even require a veterinarian to get the items out, KPRC Local 2 reported Thursday. Vets say dogs will eat just about anything.

Read the rest of that report and check out the X-ray of the electric knife blade in the esophagus of a dog:

Finally, this web site presents several interesting episodes, accompanied by X-Rays, that have been handled at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine. Take a few minutes to read this and look at the'll find it amazing, I promise:

The various treatments for a swallowed foreign object will depend on what type of object it was, how long ago it happened, and, to some extent, the general health of the dog. Some items can be regurgitated if the dog can be induced to vomit. Other objects can actually be passed completely through the digestive system, sometimes with the aid of a lubricant such as mineral oil. Some dogs might be fortunate enough to have the foreign objects removed by an endoscopic instrument, while the more unfortunates might require exploratory surgery. Some of these dogs will die, either from the blockages created by the objects, toxins contained in the objects, or from the trauma of the surgery itself.

Are you beginning to get the idea now? Your dog is simply not a very discriminating creature about what he/she will swallow. As long as something is small enough to get into their mouth, most dogs are likely to chew on it and possibly swallow it. Dogs will swallow rocks, gravel, marbles, laundry (socks, underwear), corn cobs, fish hooks, toys (and the squeaker mechanism), jewelry, cell phones, coins, and magnets...just to name a few items.

Dog behavioral specialists have several ideas for why dogs will chew on and try to swallow items that are not food. Some have suggested the idea of being left alone for long periods of time, while other have suggested that these dogs are lacking in a particular nutrient. There is not a lot of agreement on the causes and for that reason, it is not very easy to correct this behavior. The only fairly reliable solution is to work at minimizing your dog's exposure to anything it might swallow. The only problem with that approach is that some dogs will still manage to find something and get themselves in trouble.

Next week's issue of Questions On Dogs and Cats will deal with a toxin that affects dogs which ingest certain objects. Stay tuned....


For any of you who would be interested in a designer collar for your pet, here are two web sites that should be able to satisfy your every whim. The dog site, at: features collars designed for holidays, colors, sports teams, western decor, abstracts, and plaids.

The cat site, at: features designer collars and fancy ID tags and charms for those collars. GENERAL INTEREST

1) Many trends have started on the West Coast and migrated eastward across the United States. Add to that list this latest entry: Chihuahuas.

California's latest export: Unwanted Chihuahuas

2) Here's a great story about a young boy in British Columbia who was saved from a cougar attack by his Golden Retriever. Go to: and be sure to watch the short video at the end.

3) Getting a note of condolence from a friend when your pet has died can mean a lot to you. Consider how you would feel if that note came from....Read the touching story of Queen Elizabeth II reaching out to a 95-year old man who has just lost his dog, Teddy:

4) Firemen across America will shake their heads when hearing this story and be thankful they didn't have to make this climb: Do you think this cat was glad to be back on solid ground?

5) Cosmetic surgery does have a place in veterinary medicine, as evidenced by this story from Australia about a Shar Pei. Some may ethically question the decision to go ahead with these procedures; however, the surgeries did give Roland a chance at being adopted and living a good life. Read the report, look closely at the before and after pictures, and realize that Shar Peis, in general, have terrible problems with the skin folds all over their head and face:

6) This is a really freaky story about an 18-year old dog in Scotland, which went from being very unlucky to being very lucky. Check out the episode of the "pig's heart":

7) Yesterday, 9 January, was the anniversary of the founding of The Seeing Eye, in Nashville, TN, in 1929, the first guide/service dogs in the USA.

8) Friday, 8 January, was the 75th anniversary of Elvis Presley's birthday back in 1935. Enjoy this video of one of the USA's greatest entertainers:


Since the Pittsburgh Steelers are doing exactly what Helpful Buckeye is doing right now...namely, watching the NFL playoffs at home, there won't be any further coverage of my NFL team at this time.

The Ohio State Buckeyes ended the season as the #5 ranked team in the country. That ranking, along with the coming-out performance of our quarterback in the Rose Bowl, should give our fans big hopes for next season.


Several of our readers have asked if there is a video of the New Year's Eve Pine Cone Drop in Flagstaff. All you have to do is ask...yes, there is a video: Desperado and Helpful Buckeye were there and it gave us a great start for the New Year! Enjoy!

Carl Sandburg, American poet and biographer, said, "I am an idealist. I don't know where I'm going but I'm on my way." Spoken like someone who feels that the glass is more than half full, huh? This is the approach that Helpful Buckeye plans to take this year! What about you?

Wow, a "Wedgie With Croutons"...not only does that sound provocative, but also a mite uncomfortable, as Sammy, from Lexington, commented!

~~The goal of this blog is to provide general information and advice to help you be a better pet owner and to have a more rewarding relationship with your pet. This blog does not intend to replace the professional one-on-one care your pet receives from a practicing veterinarian. When in doubt about your pet's health, always visit a veterinarian.~~

1 comment:

  1. My dog swallowed bark almost a month ago and is still coughing and hacking. He has been on 2 different antibiotics, not running a fever, seems to be acting healthier except the extremely painful sound cough. Its as if something is still stuck in there. I can't feel any masses, lumps, or bumps on the outside. Could he have a splinter still stuck in there? What else could it be? Could it be something unrelated?