Safety pins are small, sharp objects that may look innocuous but they can cause a great deal of damage when ingested, especially by your little companion, and unfortunately, dogs have an inclination for eating objects that could possibly hurt them.
Usually, if a dog ate a safety pin he will be fine. The pin will pass through and it will be expelled with the stools. However, if your dog ate an open safety pin of has eaten a lot of them, this could lead to a dangerous situation and you should consult your veterinarian immediately.
What should you do if your dog swallowed a safety pin?
You should consider the size of your dog, how many pins they have ingested, and if there was something else with the safety pins.
Sometimes dogs eat safety pins while they’re playing with other things, for example, your dog was playing with a doll that had safety pins on its clothes, so they ingest the cloth along with the pins.
In this case, the risk of gastrointestinal blockage is higher because the cloth is more likely to cause an obstruction than the pin and you should alert your veterinarian immediately.
If your dog went through a box of safety pins, there are many other concerns aside from a blockage, for example, the risk of peritonitis and iron poisoning. Your dog will need to be examined as soon as you can.
Aside from these particular cases, most dogs do not suffer the consequences of eating a single safety pin. Keep them under observation and make sure they eat, drink, and poop normally.
Playing on the safe side is nonetheless recommended, for example, you should feed your dog something that could wrap around the pin and prevent any kind of damage.
White bread with a bit of natural oil, canned pumpkin, and other spongy food is highly effective in protecting your dog’s intestines when they ingest foreign objects.
Checking your dog’s stools will be fundamental to know for sure whether they expelled the safety pin or not. There are different methods to check your dog’s stools effectively:
– Wear a plastic glove and check the stools piece by piece, feeling the consistency between your fingers until you find the foreign object;
– Use a “stool dissolver” to liquefy the stools and see if the object shows up. There are enzyme-based products on the market that can be used for this purpose, ask your local pet store.
If you’re positive that your dog ingested a safety pin, but it doesn’t come out through the stools for more than 36 hours, bring your pet to the veterinarian.
What you should not do if your dog ate a safety pin.
Leaving your dog alone after they ingested a foreign object is not recommended. Your pet should be monitored for the following hours, but keep in mind that sometimes symptoms of GI obstructions and other conditions do not show up before a couple of days.
It is up to you or to someone who knows your dog as well as you do to keep an eye on them so that anything out of the ordinary can be noted and prompt intervention is made possible when needed.
Another thing you want to avoid is to make your dog vomit. Although this is a common homemade practice for inedible ingestions, it is dangerous to induce vomiting for sharp objects such as toothpicks, fish bones, and safety pins.
These sharp items could make more damage coming back up through the esophagus than they would pass through the intestines, so do not induce vomiting in your dog.
What happens if a dog eats a safety pin?
If a dog swallowed a safety pin the main concern is related to gastrointestinal obstruction. This is the most common consequence when eating inedible objects.
Safety pins come in different sizes, but they’re usually very small. However, because of their shape and characteristics, they may end up lodging inside the stomach or further down the digestive tract.
Sometimes a dog that is experiencing a blockage doesn’t show any symptoms because the pin is too small to cause an obstruction that actually interferes with your dog’s normal activities.
Nonetheless, if the safety pin doesn’t come out within two days after the ingestion, it will need to be removed medically or surgically.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage in dogs.
Gastrointestinal blockage can be very painful and uncomfortable for your dog. Most dogs start showing symptoms quite early, only a few hours after their “snack”.
Not letting your dog out of your sight at this time is very important, because some signs may not be immediately recognizable as symptoms of gastrointestinal obstruction, but can degenerate very quickly.
Look out for symptoms such as:
– Vomiting: this isn’t necessarily a worrying symptom and sometimes dogs manage to get the safety pin out this way immediately after eating it. If the vomits is recurring and associated with other symptoms, a medical examination is necessary;
– Diarrhea: liquid stools are one of the main symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage. If the stools look dark brown/black, there might be blood in it which is a very bad sign because your dog may be bleeding internally.
– Abdominal pain: one thing you can do is to try and touch your dog’s belly. If they react painfully, they may have a blockage. Dogs with abdominal pain have a hard time lying down on their belly and may whine or bark a lot more than usual.
– Lethargy: every dog has different energy levels, but do not overlook a dog that is sleepier than usual. Lethargy may also appear in the form of indifference towards normal activities and playtime.
– Lack of appetite: GI obstruction prevents your dog from eating and keeping down food. They may also feel nauseated and in pain, which takes away their appetite.
– Weakness: lack of appetite will lead to weight loss and weakness as your dog doesn’t eat enough for its body to sustain itself. Your dog is often lying down, doesn’t move as much as before, and may look unstable when they do.
What happens if a dog eats an open safety pin?
Maybe your dog ate an open safety pin or maybe the pin opened when it was already in the stomach, but either way, this is a dangerous situation for more than one reason.
An open safety pin is capable of doubling its size and thus more likely to get stuck and cause obstruction. However, in this case, the main concern is the sharpness of its tip.
An open safety pin could scratch the esophagus, open wounds in the stomach, and poke holes in the walls of the intestines, causing an inflammation called peritonitis.
Peritonitis is an inflammation that affects the peritoneum, the thin membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.
When the abdominal cavity receives a physical trauma, for example, an object that opens a small wound in the membrane, or is affected by a disease or an ulcer, a dog is at risk of developing peritonitis.
This condition is often fatal for dogs, as mortality ranges from 50% to 70%, and many of its symptoms are the same as gastrointestinal blockage, which is why it’s important to have your dog examined as soon as they show any symptom.
Diagnosis and treatment
Your veterinarian will run all necessary tests, which include blood tests, x-rays, and analysis of the abdominal fluid for confirmation.
When the diagnosis is confirmed, the first thing to do is to reduce the impact of the disease and to stabilize your dog. They will probably need to be hospitalized if their condition is serious.
Once your dog is out of the danger zone, the veterinarian will need to identify the cause of the inflammation. If it’s an object, they will proceed with surgical removal.
Medical treatment usually includes antibiotics, replacement fluids, plasma, or even blood transfusion. Medications and antibiotics will be continued after the surgery as long as your veterinarian deems them necessary.
Most animals will not eat after surgery, so they will need intravenous feeding. After that, your veterinarian will give you the most appropriate diet for their conditions.
Once the main treatments are over, you can bring your dog home, but it’s important that you keep them under observation in case symptoms return.
Dogs that were treated in time will recover from peritonitis. Follow the instructions of your veterinarian and continue the proper treatments at home. Of course, your dog will need follow-up visits as well.
Iron poisoning in dogs.
Safety pins today are mostly made of steel, which is a fairly safe metal. However, older safety pins were usually made of iron and even today it isn’t hard to find iron safety pins.
Ingesting a large quantity of iron can lead to metal poisoning, which affects both the gastrointestinal and the neurological system.
Iron is actually the most common trace mineral in dogs, but an oversaturation of iron in the blood can be fatal because iron can corrode the tissues and open perforations in the stomach and intestines.
Symptoms of iron poisoning in dogs.
Iron poisoning is insidious because it starts with gastrointestinal symptoms which quickly disappear in 24-48 hours but then appear again several days later, except that this time they’re much worse.
Common symptoms of iron poisoning in dogs include:
- Blood in the stools
- Increased heart rate
It is fundamental to treat the symptoms in time, because shock may lead to death. Prognosis is good for those dogs that get treated at the first symptoms.
Can dogs eat safety pins?
Of course not. Safety pins are little and sharp objects that can easily lodge inside the stomach and intestines. From there, it’s impossible to know what kind of damage they may cause.
Be it gastrointestinal blockage or infections, the fact that these conditions are treatable doesn’t mean they’re less dangerous for your dog. Every dog is different and could react differently to surgery, therapies, and medications. It’s not a risk you want to take.
Dogs are very smart animals, but consider their curiosity and lack of understanding for the human world. They will chew and eat most things they find along the way for the sake of exploration or entertainment. It is your responsibility to make sure they don’t come across dangerous items.