Dog Breeds at Risk for Swallowing Nonfood Items

by Brad Kloza
View Biography

Carl Greenhous' English bull terrier, Toby, had a strange obsession with dental floss. With every chance he got, the canine rummaged through the bathroom trash bin and picked out only the used strands of floss.

"He would usually poop it out, but sometimes it wouldn't pass all the way through," recalls Greenhous.

New research is revealing that swallowing nonfood items may be more common among Toby's breed than others. A study in the Journal of Small Animal Practice is the first to look at which dog breeds are more likely to come into a veterinary hospital with swallowed objects obstructing their gastrointestinal tract. It's also helping to determine what factors might best predict successful treatment.

Terriers Top the List

Dr. Graham Hayes, a veterinary surgeon at the University of Cambridge Veterinary School in the U.K., reviewed every case over a four-year period of dogs coming into a local animal hospital for gastrointestinal obstructions. Five breeds were significantly more likely to have swallowed something they shouldn't have: Staffordshire bull terriers (by far the most likely), English bull terriers, Jack Russell terriers, Border collies and Springer spaniels.

"I think rooting about, scavenging rubbish and chewing up plastic toys is in the nature of terrier-type breeds," says Hayes.

Successfully Treating Obstructions

Aside from looking at breeds, Hayes analyzed each documented case to determine what factors most often lead to positive - or negative - outcomes.

(Continued on next page)