My Dog Swallowed a Magnet What Should I Do? (Reviewed by Vet)

Reviewed By Evie Moloney, RCVS •  Updated: 11/03/23 •  5 min read
Dog Moderate Toxicity Level
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Many of us have magnets at home. Think of those cute pictures on the fridge held in place with magnets. The magnets may be shaped like letters (if you have young kids), animals, flowers, places, etc. They look so cute on the fridge and offer a nice decoration for the kitchen. However, they can also pose a serious medical issue for your dog.

Magnets & Dogs Don’t Mix

Magnets are usually not toxic—that’s the good news! However, they can cause some other nasty problems. Not only can they be a choking hazard, or cause irritation in the digestive tract, they can also become lodged in the intestines, which can lead to a bowel obstruction. This is a life-threatening medical problem. The more magnets a dog eats, the higher the risk of them causing serious issues for your pet, especially if two magnets connect within your pets digestive system. This can lead to very serious problems as the blood supply will be cut off for your dog’s digestive system, which can cause life threatening effects.

My Dog Swallowed One Magnet

Do not induce vomiting at home. This could cause choking and make your pet very distressed. Instead, phone your veterinarian, and give them as much detail as possible about the size of the magnet, and whether there was anything attached to it (such as plastic if it was a decorative fridge magnet) and when your pet ate it.

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

In some cases, your vet may recommend feeding your dog some canned dog food to help to surround the magnet and helping it pass through the intestines and eventually out (in your dog’s poop). However, do not do this at home until you have spoken to your vet and they have recommended for you to do this.

Your vet may recommend watching your dog for the next few days for any signs that they are feeling unwell. These could include vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, etc. If you notice these symptoms, your fur baby may still have the magnet inside them or or have complications from eating the magnet such as stomach irritation. He’ll then need to see the vet for further treatment.

My Dog Swallowed More Than One Magnet

Do not induce vomiting inducing vomiting at home is never safe as the risk of choking is very high. If your dog has swallowed more than one magnet, this may be a medical emergency and your vet should be immediately contacted. When you both get to the vet, they will conduct a physical exam, and may order lab work and imaging (such as X-rays). The x-rays can show where the magnets are inside your dog’s digestive tract.

Depending on your pet’s individual case, they may need surgery to remove the magnets.

Perforated Intestine in Dogs

What happens if your fur baby swallows two magnets? This issue can be a lot more serious for your dog. The reason is that the two magnets may be attracted to one another within your dog’s digestive tract. If this happens, the dog’s intestinal walls are crushed together, resulting in loss of blood flow.

Loss of blood flow and continuous pressure from the magnets can also cause perforations in the tissue that allow the contents of the intestines to spill into the abdominal cavity (called bowel perforation or septic peritonitis). This can also cause the dog pain and the condition can lead to death of the tissues.

These conditions require surgery to correct the damage and remove the magnets.

It’s important to note that the same problem can result from a dog swallowing a magnet and a metal object. This can lead to perforated tissues in the intestines.

If your dog has suffered a perforated intestine, then part of his intestine may need to be removed during surgery. Your pet may need additional treatments such as IV fluids (a drip), antibiotics and stomach protectant tablets. Your dog may need to stay in the hospital for several days. In general, the sooner a problem with eating magnets is detected and treated, the better chance your pet has of making a full recovery.

Recovery After Eating Magnets

When your dog is ready to return home from the hospital, he will need a place to rest. The recovery space should be quiet and calm, where your fur baby feels safe and calm.

Dogs that are recovering from surgery done with anesthesia may have trouble with walking and muscle control. They may also appear to be disoriented. In this case, it’s best to keep your dog away from other pets and kids until he’s fully recovered from the anesthesia.

If the vet has prescribed medications for your fur baby, ensure he receives the medication as directed by the vet. Your dog will also need fresh water and food to help him make a full recovery.

To avoid this problem, it’s best to keep all magnets out of your dog’s reach. And if you have young children, then the magnets can cause similar problems if swallowed. Ideally, all magnets should be placed up high where your furry friend has no way of reaching them.

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Evie Moloney, RCVS

This article has been reviewed and approved by an independent Veterinarian: Evie is a vet surgeon who graduated from the University College Dublin, which is the only university offering the veterinary medicine degree in Ireland. She really enjoys surgery and has also worked as an emergency and critical care vet. She is passionate about sharing education about preventative health care for pets, especially the importance of regular dog and cat teeth brushing at home. She also enjoys helping owners find practical solutions for keeping pets as comfortable as possible while living with conditions such as arthritis. When not working, she enjoys hiking and swimming.

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