Q: My friend’s American Eskimo dog bit down on a glass Christmas ornament and swallowed some of the pieces. Should she have induced vomiting?

A: Most dogs are equal-opportunity eaters. If something smells or looks edible, they won’t hesitate to ingest it. I never cease to be amazed at the things dogs will chomp on. That includes glass ornaments and light bulbs.

The real surprise is that biting down on a glass ornament is typically less dangerous for dogs than it might seem. Most often, dogs appear to realize they’ve made a mistake and don’t swallow the shards. They still run the risk of cutting their tongues or lips, with the resultant bleeding. If it’s severe enough, a dog may need a trip to the veterinarian for treatment.

If your dog does swallow glass shards, your vet may decide it’s safer to let the glass pass naturally than to induce vomiting. Dogs tend to run a greater risk of injury by bringing back up sharp items such as glass or needles.

If you know that your dog has swallowed something potentially dangerous such as glass, call your veterinarian immediately for advice. If your dog isn’t showing signs of choking — gagging or pawing at the throat, for instance — your veterinarian may suggest giving bread, pumpkin or mashed potatoes to help encase the glass as it passes through the intestinal tract. Straining to defecate, lethargy, blood in the stool, lack of appetite or abdominal pain call for an immediate trip to the vet. These signs may indicate a blockage or damage to the intestinal tract that requires surgical repair.

 

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