Pets’ Appetite for Oddities Leads to Millions in Treatment Costs

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. policyholders spent nearly $5.2 million treating pets that ingested foreign objects from January through November this year.

Posted: December 14, 2011 6 p.m, EDT

The Brea, Calif.-based pet insurance company received more than 6,500 foreign object ingestion claims during the 11-month period. Surgery to remove foreign objects from the stomach of a pet cost an average of $1,472, and surgery to remove foreign objects from the intestine cost an average of $1,910.

Notable items ingested by VPI-insured dogs and cats through November include:
•    About 100 rocks
•    A box of razor blades
•    A foot-long metal hanger
•    A cholla cactus
•    130 fish oil capsules
•    Chopsticks
•    14 hair bands
•    A cinnamon scented pine cone
•    15 vanilla votive candles
•    Clothing and rat poison
•    Two baby bottle nipples
•    Deer antlers
•    Two plastic baggies and a bottle cap
•    Dental floss
•    Three sewing needles
•    An entire tube of dog toothpaste
•    Five pounds of trash and a scrub brush
•    Artificial finger nails
•    62 vitamin D soft gels
•    A glass ornament
•    5-inch skewer
•    A golf ball skin
•    A battery
•    Glue
•    A cell phone case
•    A G.I. Joe
•    A cork
•    Hot chili peppers
•    A dirty diaper
•    Human feces
•    A fish hook and line
•    A jellyfish
•    A lobster shell
•    Mothballs
•    A makeup sponge
•    A dental retainer
•    A marijuana cookie
•    Pennies and thumb tacks
•    A package of fluorescent light bulbs
•    Pepper spray
•    A pillowcase
•    Poison ivy
•    A dead porcupine
•    Ribbons and wrapping paper
•    A burrito wrapped in foil
•    Hemorrhoid suppositories
•    Wires
•    Soap
•    A tent stake
•    Staples
•    A wedding ring
•    A rat (swallowed whole)
•    An aluminum can
•    A sweatshirt
•    A rosebush
•    The corner of a bed
•    The head of stuffed animal, a long leather lace and multiple hard plastic pieces
•    Two plastic eyeballs and a bunch of broccoli stems
•    An adhesive bandages

Pets that ate these items made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Symptoms of foreign body ingestion include depression, a reluctance to eat or drink, vomiting, and occasionally diarrhea. If a dog owner suspects foreign object ingestion, the animal should be seen immediately by a veterinarian.

To prevent accidental ingestion:
•    Monitor pets’ behaviors and environment
•    Keep items small enough to be swallowed out of pets’ reach
•    Select toys that are appropriate for all animals in the home
•    Monitor toys for small pieces that may have been eaten

What is the oddest thing your dog has ever eaten?

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