My Dog Ate a Nail Will He Get Sick? (Reviewed by Vet)

Reviewed By Gemma Cliffin BSC BVSC MRCVS •  Updated: 04/06/23 •  3 min read
Dog Moderate Toxicity Level
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Dogs eat the strangest things! They can eat anything from paper to roadkill. They are not discerning when it comes to eating things. But what happens if a dog swallows a nail?

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Dog Ate a Nail

Nails are Everywhere


Nails are found all over our homes. They sometimes slip out of furniture or woodwork. Or they can be found in the garage, where you keep tools and other DIY home fixes. Nails are a part of our lives.

It is strongly recommended to contact a Pet Poison Helpline or your veterinarian.

Nails come in a wide range of shapes, lengths, and composition; although most nails are made of steel. However, they can also be made of stainless steel, iron, copper, aluminum, or even bronze.

Nails are Dangerous if Swallowed

Nails usually have one end that’s sharp. The sharp end can cause damage to a dog’s digestive tract if swallowed. It can cause tears, become lodged in the stomach or intestines, and more.

Symptoms Your Dog Has Swallowed a Nail

You may notice these symptoms if your canine friend has swallowed a nail:

My Dog Swallowed a Nail, Now What?

Note: never induce vomiting at home, unless instructed to do so by your vet.

If you even suspect your canine companion has swallowed a nail, then it’s time to call the vet right now. This could be a medical emergency.

Note your dog’s symptoms (if any) and then call the vet.

Treatment of Swallowed Nails in Dogs

At the vet’s they take note of your dog’s symptoms, and then will perform a complete physical exam. They’ll look to see if they can feel where the nail may be located, if your dog’s having abdominal pain, and more. They may also order lab work and perform imaging such as x-rays (to see where the nail is inside your dog).

If your dog is found to have swallowed a nail, he will most likely need surgery to remove it. It is unlikely that the vet will induce vomiting for a swallowed nail as there is a risk that the nail could puncture the stomach or esophagus on the way back up. Depending on whereabouts in the digestive tract the nail is, it might be possible to retrieve it using endoscopy.

In most cases, your dog will fully recover as long as he has prompt medical treatment. Leaving the nail inside your dog could prove fatal,. so, always call the vet and seek out treatment. The sooner your dog is treated, the sooner he can begin to recover.

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Gemma Cliffin BSC BVSC MRCVS

This article has been reviewed and approved by an independent Veterinarian: Dr Gemma Cliffin MRCVS is an experienced small animal vet who combines her love of writing alongside working in practice. Since her graduation from the University of Liverpool in 2014 she has worked in a wide variety of roles including first opinion practice, as a night vet and as a locum vet. She has also spent time working at a charity clinic in the Cook Islands which was a challenge but also immensely rewarding. She loves all aspects of veterinary work, but she especially enjoys medicine cases and diagnostic imaging. She is passionate about pain-management, particularly in her more senior patients. She currently works in a first opinion small animal practice in North Yorkshire where she deals with both routine and emergency cases.

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