10 Weird Things Pets Have Swallowed

Pets (well, mainly dogs) have swallowed pacifiers, steak knives, bullets and other bizarre objects. In fact, Veterinary Practice News holds an annual “They Ate What?! X-Ray Contest” for the most “odd and incomprehensible” objects that veterinarians have discovered in their patients’ guts.

The medical term for eating non-food items is pica. (The term for specifically eating poop is coprophagia, but let’s not go there.) While health conditions like malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies can cause pets to eat strange stuff, dogs tend to do it more often than other pets because they use their mouths to investigate objects, and in the process can sometimes swallow those objects by mistake.

For this reason, to avoid expensive surgery or, worse, losing your pet, it’s very important to keep anything they shouldn’t swallow out of their reach. If you think your pet has eaten something that’s not digestible, see a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Here are some of the unusual items pets have swallowed and lived to bark or meow about.

1. Pacifiers

Earlier this month, Dovey, a 4-year-old Shar Pei, was taken to the vet after his owner’s mom saw him snatch a pacifier off a counter and swallow it. Dovey had been losing weight. At the same time, pacifiers had been disappearing.

“In 20 years, this is the craziest surgery I’ve ever done,” Dr. Chris Rispoli at the Gentle Care Animal Hospital in Edmond, Okla., told KOKH. An X-ray revealed several pacifiers in Dovey’s stomach. During surgery, Rispoli discovered and removed 21 of them.

As unusual as this was, in 2009, a bulldog swallowed 15 pacifiers, as well as a bottle cap and part of a baseball.

2. Live Rifle Rounds

Benno, a Belgian Malinois from Mountain Home, Ark., had previously eaten socks, glass, marbles, coins and other objects before he got ahold of a bag of .308 caliber bullets in 2015. He swallowed 23 of the live rifle rounds.

His owner took him to the vet the next day after he saw a couple of the bullets in the dog’s vomit.

“This is something they certainly did not cover in school,” Dr. Sarah Sexton said. “I’ve had dogs eat things before, mostly stuffed toys. Once I had one swallow a hearing aid, but I think this takes the cake.”

It took two hours for Sexton to remove most of the bullets from Benno’s stomach. Fortunately, they were made of brass and copper, which aren’t as toxic as the lead and zinc in some bullets.

3. Candles

A Lab mix named Ben ate an entire bag of tea candles. “During surgery, we removed approximately 38 candles/discs and chunks of wax,” Dr. Helen Dane of Danada Veterinary Hospital in Wheaton, Ill., told Veterinary Practice News.

The biggest challenge was removing all the melted wax, Dr. Laura Wallach told InsideEdition.com. “He did great after surgery,” she said. Five days later, “he was wagging his tail and looking for something else to eat.”

4. Foam Darts and Bullets

Cats as well as dogs have swallowed the foam ammunition from toy guns. “Seems like a strange enough object to want to consume, and I find it even stranger that I’ve witnessed this type of foreign body more than once,” wrote former veterinary technician Ann Staub regarding two cats who ate the darts.

The owner of a mixed-breed dog in Florida who’d previously found foam bullets in his poop brought him to the vet after the dog started vomiting. X-rays showed plenty of strange objects in the dog’s stomach. Veterinarian Anne Jones and her team at Clay Duval Pet Emergency Clinic in Orange Park ended up surgically removing 58 foam bullets – as well as two screws, a spring, mini screwdriver and pieces of a plastic clothes hanger. The dog made a full recovery.

5. Steak Knives

Within the past 16 months, two different Staffordshire bull terrier puppies miraculously survived after they somehow swallowed entire 8-inch steak knives. In August 2016, it took veterinarians at the Animal Referral Hospital in Sydney, Australia, 45 minutes to use forceps to very, very carefully lift the knife back up the esophagus of a six-month-old puppy named Lexi. With the help of an endoscope equipped with a camera, the vets were able to prevent the serrated edge and sharp tip of the blade from cutting the puppy’s vital organs.

In January, 12-week-old Macie was “making a squeaking sound,” her owner, Irene Paisley of Glasgow, Scotland, said. When Macie started choking, Paisley rushed her to the vet, thinking her puppy had swallowed a toy.

But an X-ray revealed a steak knife. The handle had actually passed all the way through Macie’s stomach and into her intestines, with the knife’s sharp tip resting in her gullet. “Her saving grace was that she swallowed the handle end first – the blade end would undoubtedly have pierced her organs, likely causing fatal injuries,” said veterinarian Emily Ronald of People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals.

The morning after her surgery, Macie was back on her feet and bouncing around. A couple of weeks later, Ronald said the puppy was recovering and healing well.

6. Forks

Back in 2008, a dog named Apachee had to undergo surgery as well as blood transfusions after he swallowed a fork. It took a couple of weeks after eating it for Apachee to start coughing, refusing food and eventually collapsing. The fork had become lodged in his chest cavity and pierced a vein.

Dr. Gary Spodnick and the surgical team at the Veterinary Specialty Hospital of the Carolinas in Cary, N.C., were able to successfully remove the fork and patch up the vein.

7. Spoons

When the owner of a Lab noticed the spoons upon which she fed him peanut butter were disappearing, she took him to Dr. Carsten Henkel at Robinson Animal Hospital in McKees Rocks, Penn. An X-ray revealed not one, but two metal spoons in the dog’s stomach.

8. Hair Ties

One cat patient that Staub helped treat “decided to eat over a dozen” hair ties (elastic ponytail holders), she wrote. “It was like a never-ending bottomless pit of hair ties that we removed from this patient’s stomach and intestines. We saved all of them to show her owner.”

9. Monopoly Dog Token

In a dog-eat-dog case, a canine swallowed the Scottie dog token from a Monopoly game, leading to what Mashable referred to as a “very meta trip to the vet.” The X-ray was posted on Reddit.

Monopoly dog

10. Turtle Pendant

A similar meta trip to the vet was required in 2014 by a male 15-pound tortoise named Lola. After Lola didn’t poop for a month (!), his owner brought him to Dr. Don Harris at the South Dade Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center in Miami.

An X-ray revealed that Lola had eaten a 1.5-centimeter turtle pendant “of unknown origin,” according to Veterinary Practice News. It was successfully surgically removed and Lola has completely recovered.

Harris told the Associated Press that “tortoises graze like cattle. They eat grass, plants and other vegetation, sometimes consuming rocks and other objects as well.”

Photo credit: CC0 Creative Commons


hELEN h2 months ago


Carole R
Carole R2 months ago

Heavens! My daughter's dog ate a sock once and I thought that was weird. But a knife!? Yikes.

Renata B
Renata B3 months ago

Terrible situations. One of our dog's best friend, an adult but young Husky, a girl, was unwell, went to the vet, Xrays, operation: they found a sort of ball made of thin elasticated thread all curled on itself. They removed but then she died a few nights later, when still at the vet. She lived with her brother who still miss her after more than two years. She was the dominant one. Incredibly sad story, poor thing. Our vet told me it was one of the worst cases he had seen. Another friend of our dog, a huge Doberman (looking like a little horse), we were told that died for having swallowed a tennis ball. Again he was a young-youngish adult Most of these cases end in tears. We really need to be very careful. For our dog (who is going to be 9 soon) - it is a miracle to be alive because he has swallowed all sorts of things, mostly awful bits of twigs, sometimes sharp too (we find them in his poop) and once also a smooth pebble. It doesn't happen as often as it did when he was very young, but sometimes he still chews the weird thing. In the park he runs free and it is very difficult to check what he does all the time, sometimes he disappears in a think bush and ... you have to hope for the best.

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi D4 months ago

A steak knife!!! No way!!

Naomi Dreyer
Naomi D4 months ago

My goodness!

hELEN h4 months ago


Lorraine A
Lorraine A4 months ago

I have no idea how you swallow a steak knife!! Wow...thanks for sharing.

Ruth S
Ruth S4 months ago


Sue H
Sue H4 months ago


Danuta W
Danuta W4 months ago

Thank you for sharing