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Swallows Something

When a Beagle Swallows Something

Socks, Rocks, Bones, Batteries, Coins & More


Hopefully you've puppy-proofed your house, no matter how old your Beagle, is to prevent your dog from mouthing, chewing and potentially swallowing something that he shouldn't. However, even the most diligent of owners can mistakenly leave out an item or a very clever Beagle can latch onto something that was thought of as safe and off limits. 

So, unfortunately, there may very well be a time that your Beagle ingests a non-food item. It's important to know what to do and how to react if your Beagle does this.
Some objects may pass right through however others may cause a partial or full blockage that can take up to several days to manifest and with other swallowed things, quick action from owners can save the dog's life.

We are going to look at some of the most common items swallowed by Beagles and exactly what you should do if this happens.
My Beagle swallowed a sock - We're putting this one first for two reasons: 1) It happens quite often and 2) it's a bit shocking that some sources have information that this is nothing to be concerned about, when in fact it can cause life-threatening internal blockage.

In regard to why this happens so much, obviously access to the socks plays a big role. Whether dirty laundry is left in a hamper that a Beagle can reach, clean laundry is left hanging half out of a dryer or people in the household aren't picking up after themselves, this is one item that dogs in general seem to have too much access to. 

There are theories about why Beagles like to chew on socks and the most logical reason would be a combination of the scent that is on the fabric and the texture and chewing satisfaction that it offers.
The most common type of socks that are actually swallowed are small ankle socks, followed by dress socks, since these can be torn by a dog's sharp teeth and eaten in small pieces. Larger and thicker socks tend to just be gnawed at; however small pieces can be ripped off and swallowed.

So, will a sock pass right through? Only some of the time and owners should not count on this happening. If the sock was shred into tiny pieces of fabric, a Beagle may end up vomiting and expelling the fragments. However, larger bits of cloth are of course not digested by the body. The sock would need to move through the stomach, small intestine, large intestine and finally excreted out with a bowel movement without becoming lodged to not cause any major problems.

The issue is that most owners will have no idea if the material was shredded which would make it easier to pass or if it was swallowed in bigger chunks which would be more apt to cause gastrointestinal obstruction. 

Here's what an owner should do if a Beagle swallows a sock:

1) Look for signs of excessive drooling or trouble breathing- If a Beagle is drooling a lot after eating a sock making odd noises or otherwise having trouble taking in air, this is a sign that it is stuck in the esophagus.

2) Call the veterinarian.  If the office is closed, there should be a recording or an answering service that will offer instructions for off-hour emergencies. The issue with a Beagle swallowing socks if that depending on whether the dog is a puppy or an adult, the size of the sock itself and even a dog's prior history in doing this, some discussion will need to occur to decide if vomiting should be induced via hydrogen peroxide, if the dog should be watched to see if there are issues or if the Beagle should be brought in to be examined for blockage. 

3) Most likely, if there are no immediate signs of trouble, you will be instructed to keep a close eye on your Beagle. This is so that if he shows any symptoms of gastrointestinal obstruction which may require surgery, he can be transported to the veterinarian or closest animal hospital immediately. It can take several days for this to occur; the sock may end up becoming lodged in the stomach unable to move to the intestines or it may become twisted and stuck in the small or large intestines. During this waiting period, it is important that the Beagle is not left alone, even if this means taking a day(s) out of work.  

Signs that the sock is indeed causing blockage include:
  • Vomiting - This can be food or liquid of any color including white or clear.
  • Straining to defecate - The Beagle may struggle to push out a bowel movement.
  • Lack of appetite / thirst - If the puppy or dog stops eating and/or drinking this is a red flag.
  • Signs of distress - If the sock is causing a problem, a dog may react in a variety of ways due to pain and/or panic. He may frantically pace, spin or act antsy. 
You will want to keep checking his feces for signs of the sock material and if there are any symptoms of distress, bring him to the vet without delay. 

4) Speak to the vet regarding a temporary high fiber bulking diet to aid in the passage of the sock (and this is applicable to any non-food item that the vet wishes for the dog to pass). Adding some green beans or pumpkin to meals are two options. 
My Beagle swallowed a rock - It may seem odd that a puppy or dog would purposely swallow a pebble or rock, however this does happen. This may occur while the Beagle is nibbling on some grass although some dogs will lick and mouth stones and end up ingesting them in one gulp. It is theorized that one reason canines even bother to mouth rocks is due to the salty taste. 

River or ocean rocks that have been smoothed by water are rather easy for dogs to swallow, though if a Beagle is chewing down a mouthful of grass, he may accidentally ingest some rough-edged pebbles as well. 
pebbles and rocks
Some owners do not even notice this at all and only realize that it happened after the fact when they see small rocks in the dog's stool.

What you do if your Beagle swallows a rock will really depend on the size of the stone vs the size of the dog. If you know that the pebble was approximately the size of a pill that the dog could hypothetically gulp down, there is a good chance that it will pass through. However, in some cases a Beagle may end up with 5, 10 or even more rocks in his stomach. Some may pass through and others may not. 

As with socks (above), you will want to seek help immediately if the dog is showing any signs of distress, alert the veterinarian as to what happened (it's also important to make contact so that you can be given instructions regarding what to do if your Beagle shows signs of distress when the office is closed) and if it the Beagle is not showing any symptoms of blockage, most owners will be instructed to take a 'wait and see' approach. As with other non-food objects, it will be important for someone to be watching the dog for several days since obstruction can occur at any time as the rock moves through the body's digestive system. Even if you are not sure how many rocks your Beagle ate, it's best to check the stool and count how many are expelled. 
chicken meat and bones
chicken meat and bones
My Beagle swallowed a chicken bone - Bones and particularly cooked bones should not be given to puppies or dogs due to their tendency to splinter. Chicken bones are the biggest cause for concern, although any small bone such as those from spare ribs, turkey, fish and beef can be dangerous as well. Cooked bones can cause much more damage than raw since the cooking process causes an evaporation of both moisture and calcium deposits within the marrow that makes the bones very brittle. This can cause injury to the soft tissue in the mouth, bone fragments can become lodged between teeth and the tongue, esophagus, stomach, intestines and/or rectal areas are all vulnerable to being punctured. 

If your Beagle swallows a chicken bone or other meat bone that is apt to splinter, here is what you can do:
1) Inspect your dog's mouth for any signs of injury. You'll want to carefully look at the tongue, inner cheek tissue and between all teeth. Small bone fragments are similar to needles and can pierce the skin quite deeply; the piece may be embedded. 

2) It is often not recommended to induce vomiting since the bone can cause quite a bit of damage on the way up. If it made its way to the stomach, it's best allow it to remain there and take the next step.

3) Feeding your Beagle certain foods after he eats a chicken bone can help offer a cushion around it, and this can help it pass through the body. Some good choices are rice and bread. You'll want to make this as tempting to your dog as possible, so adding some warm chicken or beef broth over the food can tempt an otherwise not-so-hungry Beagle to ingest a bit of the mixture. 

4) You'll want to keep a very close eye on your puppy or dog for at least 3 days. And as with socks, rocks and other objects that can possibly cause obstruction, it is really best for someone to remain home with the dog even if this means calling in friends, family members and/or taking time off from work. You'll be looking for any signs of distress including: vomiting, dry heaving, straining when going to the bathroom, a hunched over posture or odd positioning (if the bone is poking into the stomach lining a dog may twist his body into strange positions in an attempt to lessen the pain), breathing issues, weakness and/or reluctance to eat. 
My Beagle swallowed a battery - This must be considered to be an emergency situation that requires immediate action; it is extremely dangerous, can cause life-long scars and can be fatal.

While it will generally be smaller batteries that a Beagle may swallow, any size can be chewed at to cause serious issues and all cases of battery ingestion must be taken very seriously. AAA, AA, C, D and 9 volt all have corrosive properties. If a Beagle swallows a tiny disc shaped battery, while smaller these are actually just as dangerous. If the battery case is punctured, burns to the mouth can occur immediately, though signs of this can take up to 12 hours to manifest. 
These can be very serious tissue burns that manifest as painful ulcers on the tongue, lips and inside the mouth. And even if a Beagle swallows a battery whole, there are still dangers since the casing may have been punctured by a sharp tooth before being gulped down. Finally, depending on the size of the battery, stomach or intestinal blockage is always a concern.

If your Beagle swallows a battery of any kind or if a battery is missing and you suspect that your puppy or dog may have ingested it, here is what to do:

1) Bring your Beagle to the veterinarian or closest animal hospital ASAP. If the vet's office is closed, still make this call; there should be an answering service or a voice message that instructs you regarding where to go or a number to call for night/weekend emergencies. While there are some steps that may be taken at home and even if your Beagle appears to be fine, internal burns can take hours to appear and it will be imperative to have x-rays taken to determine where the battery is located in the body. 

2) Do not induce vomiting if your Beagle swallows a battery. This can cause serious burns to the throat.
3) You may be instructed to first rinse your Beagle's mouth with luke-warm water for 10 to 15 minutes or offering small amounts of cold milk to drink (your vet will tell you how much, based on your dog's weight, since too much can cause diarrhea). 

4) At the clinic, the mouth and esophagus will be examined to look for potential chemical burns and treated accordingly. Medications to help try and protect the gastrointestinal tract will be given; this may be given at the office and if the battery was chewed but not fully swallowed, you may be instructed to continue giving this to your Beagle at home. X-rays will be taken to determine the location of the battery and decision will be made regarding surgical removal. If it is suspected that the battery is leaking fluid in the stomach, it will need to be removed ASAP. 

The full extent of burns from a dog eating a battery can take up to 12 hours to appear. For this reason, a Beagle may be kept at the clinic or may be sent home where owners will need to keep a super close eye on the dog. Signs to look for include developing lesions in the mouth and/or lips, drooling, weakness, reluctance to eat, vomiting and/or any signs of pain or distress. 

Battery burns on dogs are often treated with strong pain medication and antibiotics to help prevent infection. Those with oral injury are often fed soft wet foods until the burns have healed. 
coins and pennies
coins and pennies
My Beagle swallowed a coin or a penny - If a Beagle swallows a penny, this can cause life-threatening toxicity. This is because pennies that were minted from 1982 and on are predominantly zinc (97.5 % zinc, 2.5% copper) which is considered to be highly toxic to canines. Pennies made from 1962 and earlier contain smaller levels of zinc alloy (5%).

The time that it takes for a dog's stomach acid to dissolve the penny enough to release the zinc into a dog's bloodstream can range from just minutes to several hours; though the rate of speed at which this occurs will vary and how much food a Beagle has in his stomach is just one element that will have an effect on this. 
Signs of zinc poisoning include weakness, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, a yellowing of the eyes and/or dark urine. 

If your Beagle swallowed a penny or got into some coins and you are not sure if a penny was included with that, you will want to call the vet right away and bring your dog to the office ASAP. When you call you may be instructed to induce vomiting, which is typically done by giving a dog 1 teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per 10 pounds of body weight. Even if the penny does come back up, it will be important to have x-rays taken to make sure that there are no more in the stomach. If one or more are found to be in a dog's stomach, these can often be removed via endoscopy. In addition, the chemical reaction between the zinc and stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) can be caustic to the stomach lining and the vet will treat for this as well. 

If a Beagle swallows a quarter, nickel and or dime and an owner is 100% positive that a penny was not eaten, the vet may recommend the 'wait and see' approach to see if the coin(s) pass, often assisted with a high fiber diet (added green beans and/or pumpkin) or if more than one coin was swallowed, may recommend radio-graphs to determine how many are present and if intervention is recommended to prevent blockage. 
Please Remember

There is no limit to what a Beagle can swallow other than what cannot physically fit into his/her mouth after being chewed. Whether due to boredom, curiosity or a combination of both, there are endless items that a Beagle may mouth, chew and/or ingest. This includes shoe laces, jewelry, plastic bottle caps and small children's toys. There are documented cases of dogs actually swallowing whole miniature light bulbs, metal knitting needles, gravel from a turtle and fish tanks, rolls of medical tape and even fishing hooks. 

While puppies are more apt to mouth things than older dogs, this is not an age related issue and a Beagle of any age (even one that never did anything like this before) can end up swallowing something that he should not. 

If you do not already have the information, speak to your vet's office regarding what to do should an emergency occur when the office is closed. Some vets will take calls (or can be paged) and will meet you at the clinic no matter what the time and others will have a 24 hour clinic as  a recommended alternative. 

We encourage you to routinely 'puppy proof' your home, no matter how old your Beagle is. Never think that this is something that 'happens to someone else' and let's all try to create the safest environment possible for our incredible canine family members. 
Things You May Wish to Do Next:

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Check out The GIANT Book of Beagle Care - Simply the most comprehensive, helpful Beagle book that exists. From newborn to senior and EVERYTHING in between. 
Also See:

Top Beagle Care Tips - A great round-up of ways to keep your Beagle puppy or dog happy and healthy. 
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