My Dog Swallowed a Toothpick What Should I Do?

By Kyoko •  Updated: 06/27/20 •  4 min read
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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!

The Problem with Toothpicks

Toothpicks come in two kinds—wood or plastic. You’d think the wooden toothpick would be OK and there’s no need to worry if your fur baby swallows one. But that’s the case. Both wooden and plastic toothpicks can be dangerous is swallowed.

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’s 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.

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After 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 white bread, possibly covered with butter or peanut butter. The bread 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.

Another option the vet may choose is to recommend giving your dog canned pumpkin (not the canned pumpkin used in pies). This works in much the same way as the bread, by coating the toothpick’s sharp edges. The hope is this will help the toothpick to pass out of the dog’s system safely.

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

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

In most cases, the toothpick will pass out into your dog’s pooh in a few days. While our next suggestion may seem gross, it’s a good idea to check your pup’s pooh for the toothpick each day. It will look slightly different, but you’ll definitely notice it in the pooh.

If you don’t find the toothpick in your dog’s pooh after about 3-5 days, then it’s a good idea to call the vet and see if anything needs to be done. Chances are your fur baby will be acting completely normal, in which case he may be just fine. But it’s always a good idea to check with the vet!

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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Kyoko is from a family of 3 and moved to New York with her parents and siblings when she was 13. Kyoko is fond of spending a great amount of time with pets, specifically her beagle Luna and cat Missy. Her boyfriend often complains that she spends too much time giving attention to their animals. Kyoko has written dozens of articles concerning pets and is aiming at owning a pet shop one day!

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