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. That’s bad enough, but magnets can also cause another serious problem in dogs.
Magnets, as you know, do attract one another when two ends come together. Now, if a dog swallows more than one magnet, and their ends are such that they attract one another, it’s not a pretty picture. The magnets, no matter where they’re located in the gastrointestinal tract, can attract one another. When this happens, the tissue and organs in between the magnets are crushed together.
This can cause horrendous pain, but the crushed tissues can also be so tightly smashed that they lose blood flow. This can also lead to perforation of the bowel, which can lead to a very serious problem. The perforation allows intestinal juices into the dog’s body, and cause blood poisoning.
My Dog Swallowed One Magnet
Do not induce vomiting, unless directed to do so by the vet. This could cause choking if the magnet becomes lodged in the esophagus.
If your fur baby has swallowed one magnet, chances are he will be OK. Be sure to call the vet for advice, but in most cases, they may recommend feeding your dog white bread or canned pumpkin (not the kind used to make pumpkin pie). Both of these have the effect of surrounding the magnet and helping it pass through the intestines and eventually out (in your dog’s poop).
Even so, the vet may recommend watching your dog for the next few days for any signs that he may not feel well. These could include vomiting, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, etc. If you notice these symptoms, your fur baby may still have the magnet inside. He’ll then need to see the vet for further treatment.
My Dog Swallowed More Than One Magnet
Do not induce vomiting—please see the note under the previous section. If your dog has swallowed more than one magnet, consider this a medical emergency. Get him to the vet as soon as possible. When you both get to the vet, they will conduct a physical exam, and will order lab work and imaging (such as X-rays). The x-rays will show where the magnets are inside your dog’s digestive tract.
In most cases, it will be necessary for your canine companion to have emergency surgery to remove the magnets. If your dog has suffered a perforated intestine, then part of his intestine may need to be removed. The vet may also treat your dog with blood infusions, IV fluids and other treatments that may be required. Your pup will need to stay in the hospital for a few days, to make sure his system is recovering properly after surgery. In most cases, if the symptoms are caught early, your dog should 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. So, it’s best to not have any magnets in the home.