What To Do If Your Pet Eats Something They Shouldn’t

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“What should I do if my pet accidentally ingests a foreign object or a toxic substance?”

Accidental ingestion usually requires some type of medical intervention. If your pet eats something they shouldn’t, immediately call your local animal hospital or the ASPCA Pet Poison Line for assistance.

Accidental ingestion is one of the most common emergencies at Tier 1. Whether your pet consumes an indigestible object or a toxic substance, please bring them to the vet as soon as possible. Early intervention can prevent a potentially life-threatening situation.

Foreign Objects

If your pet ingests something like a sock, part of a toy, or some other type of fabric or plastic that may get stuck in the lower intestine, we encourage you to get your pet to the vet as soon as possible. In some cases, it’s possible for your vet to induce emesis — or vomiting — before the object gets stuck in the lower intestines. In other cases, your vet may monitor the object’s progression through the intestine and proceed to surgery if that is the necessary course of action.

Socks or Other Fabric

Some animal GI experts argue that dogs eat socks and underwear because of an underlying GI issue such as a food allergy or intolerance. There is likely a behavioral component to the act of consuming fabric as well. Just like some dogs like the chew and eat sticks, others enjoy socks. The issue with animals eating fabric is that textiles are not able to be broken down and passed through the digestive system like a stick. Depending on the size of your dog and the size of the sock, they may be able to vomit it back up or eventually pass it through their excretions. Smaller dogs have more difficulty passing non-digestible objects. In this case, your vet may use an endoscope to remove the object, or they may have to perform surgery.

As a general rule of thumb, don’t leave socks, underwear, cloth napkins, or other fabric items out for your dog to get into. Your dog’s safety can be great motivation to keep your bedroom and laundry room tidy!

Toys or Other Plastic Objects

Similar to fabric, plastic objects can also cause complications when accidentally ingested by your pet. Since toys or other plastic objects are generally less malleable than a sock, they are more likely to become lodged within your pet’s mouth, throat, or esophagus. This creates a choking hazard. If your pet has a habit of chewing vigorously on their toys, only allow them to play with those toys under supervision. If you have children who play with blocks, toy cars, or other small knick-knacks, make a habit of cleaning them up after use.

Toxic Substances

In addition to your pet ingesting foreign objects, accidental ingestion of toxic substances also presents complications. Some of the most common toxicities that we see are raisins, THC products, human pharmaceuticals, mushrooms, and chocolate.


Sometimes people think that grapes or raisins are a fun, bite-sized treat for their pet. In reality, they are toxic. Although the substance in grapes and raisins that makes them toxic to dogs is not confirmed, we do know that consuming them can be potentially fatal. Canine ingestion of grapes or raisins causes kidney damage and can result in the following symptoms:

  • Decreased urine production
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Coma

The severity of reactions varies greatly between dogs depending on their tolerance. Instead of raisins or grapes, try rewarding your dog with carrots or blueberries as treats.

THC Products

Another possibility for accidental ingestion is a THC product, which can cause:

  • Disorientation
  • Urine leaking
  • Seizures in severe cases

If your pet ingests a THC product, you need to get them to the vet right away, as it can cause death. THC products are currently legal in Alaska, so don’t let the fear of “getting caught” prevent you from seeking help for your pet.

Human Pharmaceuticals

If you have pharmaceuticals in your home, whether it be Tylenol, Ibuprofen, or prescription medications, your pets have the potential to get into these. Human non-steroidal anti-inflammatories are not safe for your pet and can cause life-threatening complications. Ibuprofen, Naproxen, or other anti-inflammatories can cause these symptoms:

  • Bleeding
  • GI ulcers
  • Kidney failure
  • Death

If your animal gets into any medication, please contact your vet right away. You may also consider calling the ASPCA Pet Poison Line at 888-426-4435. They can advise you as to whether or not the substance your pet has ingested is toxic and whether the dose they ingested warrants emergency action. Keep all medications tightly sealed and stored away from your pet’s access.


Mushrooms have the potential to be toxic to the GI system and cause liver failure. In severe cases, pets consuming mushrooms can result in neurotoxicity and death. We encourage you to monitor your yard and remove any mushrooms that you see. Common places for mushroom growth include anywhere with minimal light and constant moisture. If your pet begins acting abnormally after being outside — such as being lethargic, vomiting, having diarrhea, or showing any signs of twitching or tremoring — get them to the vet right away.


Lastly, everyone knows that chocolate is toxic to your dog. Theobromine is the ingredient in chocolate that is toxic, and the concentration varies between chocolate varieties. Small doses usually only cause a bellyache, but even those cases should be evaluated by an expert. Larger doses can be fatal, depending on your pet’s size and the theobromine concentration. Please contact the ASPCA Poison Line or your local vet if your pet ingests chocolate. They may be able to tell you if the type and amount of chocolate that your dog or cat ingested can cause severe toxicity or clinical signs.

As an emergency animal hospital, we see plenty of cases of accidental ingestion at Tier 1. If you suspect or know that your pet has eaten something they shouldn’t, do not delay in contacting us. We will evaluate your pet’s condition and determine the best course of treatment.

Tier 1 Veterinary Medical Center in Palmer is Alaska’s only comprehensive animal hospital. We are available for emergencies, walk-ins, and by appointment. With CT, MRI, and Ultrasound available on-site, our facility provides advanced treatment options for your pet. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Sean McPeck

A 2010 Graduate of Colorado State College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Sean McPeck developed his leadership as a Sniper Team Leader and Veterinarian with the US Army Special Operations, 75th Ranger Regiment.

Dr. McPeck has multiple combat deployments, totaling almost 2 years in combat theaters of operation.

He is the recipient of the Combat Action Badge, and is Ranger, Sniper, and Airborne qualified. While serving as an officer in Special Operations, Dr. McPeck was repeatedly recognized for his Honor, Integrity, Courage and Selfless Service in the name of the United States. He was recognized with not one, but two, Meritorious Service Medals.

Under his leadership, Dr. McPeck worked with Working Dog handlers, and canine units, to detain and seize enemy combatants. The canines that Dr. McPeck worked with are credited with savings thousands of United States soldiers deployed in combat areas.

Dr. McPeck authored The RCAP, Ranger Canine Athletic Program, which was the 1st comprehensive Military canine conditioning program.

His specific training and certification classes for Dog handlers to be proficient in Canine Tactical- Combat Casualty Care, and knowledge of current medical equipment and procedures, which led to the successful life saving interventions by handlers in real world operations.

Dr. SaraRose McPeck graduated from Mississippi State College of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. A Massachusetts native who attended Becker College for her undergrad, Dr. McPeck has lived and worked around the country and even the world. She served four years in the United States Army as a Veterinary Officer, during which she was stationed in Fort Benning, Georgia, and completed a 12-month tour in Afghanistan.

Her time serving in the Army provided her the experience as the primary veterinarian for over 350 Military Working Dogs, in which she provided all emergency, trauma, surgical, critical, and primary care. In addition to caring for animals, she trained, mentored, and led six Non-Commissioned Officers and twelve junior enlisted Soldiers, giving her not only impressive veterinary experience but also exceptional interpersonal and leadership skills.

As a Veterinary Corp Officer, she received a variety of awards, including a Bronze Star, a NATO Medal, a GWOT Medal, two Army Accommodation Medals, among many others. She gained experiences in which she exemplified impressive leadership skills and the ability to adapt to both clinical and combat support situations. Her years of experience serving our country and in veterinary medicine have equipped her with the knowledge and skills to provide exceptional care to our patients.