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My dog had to have surgery last week after a sock she had eaten got lodged in the intestines. How common is this?

We operate on 10 to 15 dogs a week at our hospital with stomach or intestinal “foreign bodies.” Usually these dogs are young, less than 2 years old, and go to a veterinarian for vomiting and not eating. Performing an x-ray or doing an ultrasound of the belly will often show the blockage. If the obstructing material is contained in the stomach, endoscopy can be performed to remove it, but if it has traveled into the small intestine, then surgery will be needed.
The most common items that dogs eat are socks and underwear. In cats, string or thread are more common. I have removed intact stuffed animals, peach pits, balls, almonds, squeaky toys, carpet pieces, pieces of towels, and even shish-kabob skewers.
The best way to avoid your dog eating something she shouldn’t is to follow Mom’s advice and clean up after yourself. Most dogs usually outgrow eating things they shouldn’t, but I had to do surgery on a 16 year old dog last year for eating a sock – some dogs just never learn.

Jonathan Miller, DVM, MS, Diplomate, ACVS (Surgery)

Dr. Miller received his DVM degree from the University of Illinois, completed a rotating internship at the Atlantic Veterinary College, a surgical internship in Houston, and completed a residency in surgery at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine. Dr. Miller has interests in both general and orthopedic surgery with a special interest in laparoscopy and arthroscopy.