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

Reviewed By Rebecca MacMillan, BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS •  Updated: 04/14/23 •  3 min read
Dog Severe Toxicity Level
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Note: Has your dog swallowed a toothpick? Or do you believe he’s swallowed a toothpick? If so, then it’s time to call the vet to get some advice. This could be a medical emergency and your vet will have the best guidance for you and your fur baby.

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Dogs do love to snarf up human food when they have the chance! In fact, some dogs are wonderful opportunists. A dog may see an hors d’oeuvre on the counter or on a table. It may be something like a small sausage or cheese on a toothpick. When no one’s looking, the dog quickly snaps up the yummy morsel, toothpick and all! It happens!

Dog Swallowed a Toothpick

The Problem with Toothpicks

Toothpicks come in two kinds—wood or plastic. You might think that the wooden toothpick would be OK and there’s no need to worry if your fur baby swallows one. But that’s not the case. Both wooden and plastic toothpicks can be dangerous if swallowed.

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

The wooden toothpick, even if partially chewed, could still cause a problem. Both types of toothpicks are sharp on the ends, and can become lodged in your dog’s throat, pierce the esophagus, or become lodged in the gastrointestinal tract.

What to Do If Your Dog Swallows a Toothpick

The first thing is to stay calm. If your fur baby isn’t choking, then the toothpick has traveled down to his stomach. On the other hand, if your dog is drooling excessively, coughing, or choking, then this is a medical emergency and you’ll need to get your canine companion to the vet as soon as possible. The toothpick, in this instance, could be caught in your dog’s throat. Do not attempt to induce vomiting, as this could cause your dog to choke and be unable to breathe. Get to the vet quickly.

Even if your dog has swallowed the toothpick without problems, then it’s still a good idea to call the vet. They’ll have the best advice on what to do next. In some cases, the vet may ask you to give your dog some bulky food to help the toothpick pass out of your dog’s system safely. The food works to surround a sharp object, such as a toothpick, as it travels through the intestines. This keeps the sharp edges of the toothpick covered, which may save your dog’s intestines from being pierced. Your vet will be able to advise you on the best type of food to give your pet in this instance.

While it can be effective, this method is still not without risk.

Vets usually recommend watching your canine companion for any of the following signs:

These symptoms could indicate your dog is suffering from a bowel issue such as an obstruction or puncture, which could be a life-threatening emergency. In this case, your canine companion will need to see the vet immediately.

Dogs who eat toothpicks can become very sick; however, with prompt medical treatment, they should make a full recovery. You two will be back to playing and going for walks in no time!

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Rebecca MacMillan, BVetMed BSAVA PGCertSAM MRCVS

This article has been reviewed and approved by an independent Veterinarian: Rebecca is a companion animal vet who has always had a passion for writing and client communication. Since her graduation from the Royal Veterinary college in 2009 she has gained a wealth of experience in first opinion small animal practice, in both clinical and managerial roles. She currently works in the South West and deals with a variety of routine and emergency appointments, but particularly enjoys medicine cases. Outside of work and writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her bouncy flat coated retriever George!

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