What to do if your dog swallows a sewing pin

My wife and I had a tough time last weekend when our eight-month-old Brittany rushed into our office, gobbled up a sewing pin and (despite our efforts to stop her), swallowed it. This happened on a Sunday night. I got on the internet and started Googling to see if I should try to get her to a pet hospital immediately. I stumbled upon two key articles: one that said try to help your dog pass the pin by bulking up his or her diet, and a second from a woman whose dog gobbled up 11 pins!

Gatsby (the dog that ate 11 pins) had to have surgery. I was worried our puppy, Maddy, might have to undergo the same since she’s small at 24 pounds. However, the first article I mentioned (which was posted by a vet), made me think Maddy would pass the pin if we gave her some extra food and some Karo syrup.

We did just that. We gave Maddy two extra cups of food, a spoonful of Karo syrup and some peanut butter. Then, we went to bed. When I woke up in the morning, I fully intended to go to work and just hope for the best. But there was this nagging thought in the back of my mind that I might come home to a seriously ill puppy.

So, I called the vet, and, of course, they urged me to bring her in immediately so they could x-ray her and access the pin’s location. Fortunately, they were able to get me in that morning. I emailed my office to say I’d be working from home/running out for a hour or so, then left with Maddy.

At the vet’s office, Maddy was happy as a clam, jumping around, wagging her little tail with her tongue lolled out.

“She certainly doesn’t look like she’s in pain,” the vet said, smiling. “We’re going to give her an x-ray to make sure the pin isn’t stuck in her throat.”

When the vet came back she pulled up the shots on a computer. It was easy to see the pin, and the vet said it was still in the top of Maddy’s stomach:

At that point, I was given two options:

  1. Try surgery first thing the next morning. The vet said she couldn’t operate at the moment since Maddy’s stomach was still full of food.
  2. Give Maddy some special, high-fiber food to bulk her up, and help her pass the pin – monitoring the pin’s progress with x-rays the next two days.

If we went the surgery route, the vet said they’d first try to get the pin out with a scope/camera (entering through her mouth). If they were able to get the pin out that way, the cost would have been around $600. If that didn’t work, they would have to open her up and surgically remove the pin. That cost would be somewhere around $1,200.

Option 2 was definitely cheaper. Buy the special food and hope she passed the pin. I opted for option two and walked out of the office having paid $230 for the x-ray and a bag of Hill’s Prescription Diet w/d food. The vet also asked me to bring Maddy back for an appointment in the morning to do another x-ray and check on the pin’s progress.

The rest of the day had me worried about Maddy (and, in the back of my mind, the cost of a $1,200+ surgery). When I got Maddy home, I gave her two cups of the special food. And I gave her two more cups that evening. The next day, when I took Maddy back, the x-rays came up negative! She’d passed the pin.

The vet seemed genuinely surprised that it passed so quickly. But I figure it had to be thanks to that first post I read online that said to give your dog lots of food to help them pass the foreign object. In the end, I’m glad we did just that. However, if you’re unsure what to do with your pet, call the vet first. Our vet told me that if Maddy’s stomach would have been empty when we took her in, it would have been a simple matter of scoping her and extracting the pin without surgery. All that food mixed up with the pin made that impossible.

In the end, it all turned out well. We walked away with $400 in vet bills, but at least we got some dog food out of it, and a puppy that’s no worse for the wear. Rest assured we’re going to work a lot harder to keep dangerous objects out of Maddy’s reach.


Reader’s Note: Lara and Peanut

Last month, a reader named Lara stumbled on this post after Peanut, her six-month old Jack Russell, swallowed not one, but two sewing pins! Lara described the situation in the comment section below:

“After taking him to the vet I learned that they were stuck in his stomach with food around it. The greedy monkey encouraged himself to eat. What brings me a slight sigh of relief is that your story is sounding very much like how mine is panning out. I just hope Peanut is able to pass these two though. And in future my mother has assured me she will make more of a concerted effort not to drop pins on the floor whilst sewing.”

I sent Lara a follow-up email to see how Peanut was doing, and she wrote back that he successfully passed the pins. She was also kind of enough to include a picture that I’m reposting with permission here:

peanut-swallowed-sewing-pin


Reader’s Note: Tiffany and Jude

March 30, 2016: Thank you, Fred, and thank you everyone who has posted here since the story of Gatsby and Maddy! My 7-month-old dachshund swallowed a needle on Sunday night. I saw it and tried to get it out but no luck. I Googled “what to do my puppy swallowed a needle” and found your stories! Within 15 mins, I said a prayer and decided to try the cotton balls soaked in chicken broth and high fiber foods. My puppy Jude was happy for the extra treats. Monday morning came and nothing in his poop but he was happy and healthy. So I prayed and kept feeding him, adding the pumpkin and peanut butter and coconut oil. Another poop in the evening and nothing. Still, Jude was happy as could be. I was still scared and had a hard time deciding if we should just go to the vet hospital. With two daughters getting married within six months and just coming off disability, I was really worried about finding the couple thousand it would probably cost…… but my puppy is worth it! I read the thread again and decided to wait one more night! This morning Jude passed his sewing needle thread and all it was inside the cotton that I had fed him. So it took about 36 hours total! Thanks again, everyone!


Reader’s Note: Marisa and Willow

March 23, 2014: A few days ago, Marisa posted a comment (see below) about her 3-and-a-half-month-old puppy, Willow. The young doggie did exactly the same thing Maddy did. She rushed into the room, jumped up where Marisa was sewing and gobbled up a needle and thread!

Marisa couldn’t get Willow to the vet right away because they were overcrowded, so she bulked up Willow’s diet (including some canned pumpkin). In addition, she gave Willow some shredded natural cotton balls soaked in chicken broth. The theory there is that the cotton will catch on the sharp point of the needle, so the needle doesn’t get stuck in the dog’s intestines. After about 24 hours, Willow vomited up the pin!

The cotton balls got caught on the thread end of the needle and helped pull everything out without a problem.

“I think the cotton trick definitely helped in our case,” Marisa said in an email. “It catches on anything rough or pointy and helps cushion it as it goes through their system on the way out. Willow ended up throwing the needle up, but I also think the canned pumpkin and bulked up food did its job plumping up her stools and keeping her digestive system moving and relaxed in case she ended up having to pass it instead.”

Here’s a photo of Willow who weighs about 11.5 pounds:

Thanks for sharing Marisa, and I’m glad to know your pup’s ok!

It’s also great to know that four small dogs have successfully passed pins without surgery. If you’ve had a similar experience, please post it below in the comment section. Thanks!

FYI: while Googling, I did find that there are several organizations that might be able to help with vet bills if your pet’s in need of surgery. I don’t know anything about them, but I figure posting them might help someone save their pet’s life!

Click to learn more:

40 thoughts on “What to do if your dog swallows a sewing pin

  1. Lara on

    I am so glad to have read your article on Maddy and relieved to hear she is okay. I have a 6 month old Jack Russell called Peanut. He unfortunately today decided to swallow not one but two of my mothers sewing pins. After taking him to the vet I learned that they were stuck in his stomach with food around it. The greedy monkey encouraged himself to eat. What brings me a slight sigh of relief is that your story is sounding very much like how mine is panning out. I just hope Peanut is able to pass these two though. And in future my mother has assured me she will make more of a concerted effort not to drop pins on the floor whilst sewing. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Fredricky on

      Hi Lara,
      Thanks for filling us in on Peanut. How’s he doing? Hopefully much better!
      Fred

    • Paloma rRogers on

      Thank you thank you thank you! Googled this topic last night and read the comments. My shih tzu swallowed a sewing needle last night and I followed your directions. He threw it up this morning and I am so happy! !

      • Fred Marion on

        So glad to hear everything worked out for you! Buy that shih tzu some treats :)

  2. Hello Fred,

    Stumbled across this blog and it is very comforting. We are right in the middle of it still so once this is all over I will update you. About 36 hours ago our 8 month old German Shepherd decided to eat a poppy pin (Remembrance day). We promptly took him to the vet and had x-rays done. The vet was optimistic that he will pass the pin so currently he is on some high fiber wet food and we are checking his BMs for the pin (nothing yet). I’ll be making an appointment for a second x-ray if I cant find anything by the end of today. please keep us in your prayers/thoughts and I’ll be in touch. Thanks again for the great post.

    • Fredricky on

      Hi Cory,
      Thanks for sharing your story. An 8-month-old German Shepherd has to be one of the cutest puppies ever. I think younger dogs have a much easier time passing obstructions than older dogs. Please update us, we’ll all be thinking of and pulling for your puppy!
      Fred

  3. Cathy on

    We have a 10 month old cocker spaniel who eats everything and anything and the other day (Tuesday @ supper) I caught her eating a poppy that had fallen off the counter. Of course the poppy was intact albeit chewed and the little black center was gone, but we could not find the pin? We didn’t know what to do – so we have just been waiting. She had no visible signs of trauma in her mouth (no blood) and she has had many poops since then (she typically goes 3 – 4 x a day) and there has been no sign of blood or the pin as we have been dissecting each one – yuck? I just read above about another person who’s dog ate a poppy – Jeez, what to do. She is eating and playing normally showing no signs of anything wrong. Jeez, what to do??

    • Fredricky on

      Hi Cathy, Sorry to hear that… I’m definitely not a vet, so this is just my personal opinion (take it with a grain of salt). It took our dog somewhere between a day and a half and two days to pass the pin (with some high-fiber food in her diet). Since it’s been about the same amount of time for you, it might be late for high-fiber food, but she’s probably on the verge of passing it anyway if she hasn’t already. I’d keep checking this evening, so you can give yourself some piece of mind when it comes out. The worst part is not knowing if the pin’s still in there. If you don’t find the pin this evening, you could always call your vet tomorrow morning and see what they say over the phone. At that point, they’ll probably recommend an x-ray. Good luck and let us know how things go!

  4. Marisa on

    Thanks so much for your post. We have a 3 1/2 month old puppy that decided to leap up where I was working on sewing something, grab a needle with some thread on it and swallow it while I tried frantically and in vain to get it out of her mouth. We called our vet but they were unable to fit us in that evening and suggested we call an emergency vet. We were told it would be $200 just to go there and get the x-ray, not including any of the costs of additional procedures, which could be hundreds more. While the cost sounded scary, we didn’t want any harm to come to her.
    Our puppy was acting completely fine with no signs of pain or trauma so we decided to keep an eye on her and hope she passed the needle, ready to rush her to the emergency vet in the night if necessary or see our regular vet the next day. In the meantime, I read several posts, including yours, that suggested bulking up her food. We also saw a couple vets recommend feeding her canned pumpkin. Another common suggestion seemed to be to feed her a couple shredded up cotton balls (real cotton, not synthetic, and definitely in tiny pieces) soaked in chicken broth in the hopes that the cotton would catch and wrap itself on any sharp objects and help keep it from doing damage inside her. We did all three of these, sifting through all her poop hoping for the best, and finally just about 24 hours later, she vomited. The bit of cotton had caught on the thread end of the needle and safely caught up all the loose thread, and then pulled the needle up safely with it when she threw up. She seems none the worse for wear, and needless to say we are immensely relieved. Glad to know we aren’t the only ones to go through this scary experience!

    • Fred Marion on

      So glad to hear your puppy’s ok! I hadn’t heard about the cotton trick :) You should email me a photo of your pup and I’ll add it to the post if you want. Thanks for sharing!

  5. elisha on

    about 35 minutes ago my 1 year old female did exactly what is being talked about. she ate my needle and thread, needle approx. 1/12 long and thread with it was about 7 inches long. the emergency vet said minimum $1,200. i cant do that. it kills me that i cant because i am just terrified. my dog is a mastiff/rotti. vet said give nothing until seen by my vet in the morning. i am reading all you guys post and i am wondering if i should do the pumpkin, cotton ball stuff? i am scared of a high vet bill. i am scared of doing worse damage them she has possible done. my 11 years old daughter is freaking out and i am just as my wits end. i am hearing great results from everyone and although i am a not a pessimist i am fearful of making the wrong decision. i dont know what to do. i dont know if what you guys are doing will work for her. but again if i dont try then i will never know. i dont know which path to take.

  6. Elisha on

    Hi Fred, I am still in the middle of our fright. I have chosen to bulk her up also. My fear is I waited to long to make that decision so we have gone almost 17 hours of no food because the emergency vet said give nothing until seen by vet. The X-ray showed needle is in stomach. She is home and I immediately began feeding her anything and everything binding. She has eaten noodles, rice, kibble and ground beef. She ate so much I thought she would bust. We have had 3 bowel movements and only the red thread has emerged. Vet wants us in first morning for another X-ray. I am hoping she will pass the needle safely sometime tonight or her first morning business. We are on 24 hours now, morning will be 36 hours. Based on my research if the needle can pass it should be by morning based on timeline of standard digestive tract. This is a very stressful situation. Still waiting and praying for favor. By the way, Fred thanks for this blog. I had no idea this situation is so common. I wouldn’t have known of this option if it wasn’t for you. I just hope I didn’t wait to long. I worry I let her stomach get to empty before reacting. Thank you for letting others know we are not alone and hope is real. I was feeling very irresponsible, still do but not as bad. Thank you.

    • Fred Marion on

      Good luck, Elisha! Hopefully the pin passes without an issue. I tried to check my dog’s stool for the pin, but we never found it. Xrays confirmed that she ultimately passed it, though.

  7. Hi. We have a 11 week old German Shepard/lab mix. She swallowed a straight pin. We rushed to vet -the pin is in her throat. They said unable to handle need to go to emergency vet. $1200-$1500 bill. We were thinking we would have to put her down (very upsetting). Vet said he would try another option. Mineral oil every 2 hours for 12 hours: we also called the emergency vet and they suggested to feed wet food and try the cotton balls. She is doing a lot of gagging and try to get it out of her throat, hopefully she’ll pass her pin too. We are praying. Will take her again on Monday for another x-ray. Keeping our fingers crossed.

  8. Follow up. Bella our puppy is doing great. Within 8 hours the pin moved out of her throat, which was a blessing. We continued to check her stool all weekend. We never found a pin – but it was so cold here if we left the poop for very long it froze. We took her back to vet on Monday and new x-ray showed no pin. She is a miracle puppy. We are very thankful. Note: the vet said to shred a 100% natural cotton ball in her food, hopefully it would attach to pin and help dull the tip as it passed through her system. This site helped us not feel so guilty -knowing this had happened to other people and their dogs.

  9. Alice Johnson on

    My 9 month old standard poodle who is training to be my service dog got my small red tomato pin cushion & ate it. We found a lot of pins on the floor but have no idea how many he might have gotten because I don’t know how many pins were in it. After reading this blog, I think we will try the cotton, pumpkin, etc & pray for the best! I don’t have the money to take him to the vet at all so would appreciate your prayers for him. His name is J.J. after J.J. Watt. I sure hope he’s as tough as J.J. Watt!
    Thanks for this blog!

    • Fred Marion on

      Sorry to hear that, Alice! We’re all pulling for JJ. Please let us know what happens!

    • Starla Flannery on

      Mine ate the whole red pin cushion too. And like you, Alice we were unable to afford that much money. The only reason I knew she had it was she left a little bit of the red and a ton of needles on the ground, I too didn’t know how many she had gotten down. We said a lot of prayers. The only thing I can figure is she didn’t swallow any because thats the only ones I ever saw. Anyway, it’s been about 2 months and nothing.

  10. Meredith on

    My golden lab Jenna is staying overnight at the vet, will probably need surgery tomorrow to remove a sewing needle. Not sure when she swallowed it, but she had been constipated for the past two days. We thought she probably just ate some paper towel or something but decided to take her in. She threw up right before we left the house but otherwise had been eating normally. She was happy and friendly at the vet so we were hopeful, but the doc came back with the x-rays which showed a pin in the lower part of her colon. It had somehow turned and was blocking her poop and poking into the colon walls. Doc says they are hoping she’ll pass it by tomorrow but if not she’ll need surgery. Best estimate is it’ll cost between $3800 and $4600. There goes my tax return! Planning on looking into pet insurance. I hope my fur baby is okay :-(

  11. Tiffany on

    Thank you Fred and Thank you everyone who has posted here since the story of Gatsby and Maddy! My 7 month old dashaund swallowed a needle on Sunday night I saw it and tried to get it out but no look. I googled what to do my puppy swallowed a needle! And found your stories! Within 15 mins I said a prayer and decided to try the cotton balls soaked in chicken broth and high fiber foods. My puppy Jude was happy for the extra treats, Monday morning and nothing in his poop but he was happy and healthy. So I prayed and kept feeding him adding the pumpkin and peanut butter and coconut oil. Another poop in the evening and nothing. Still Jude was happy as could be. I was still scared and had a hard time deciding if we should just go to the vet hospital. With two daughters getting married within six months and just coming off disability I was really worried about finding the couple thousand it would probably cost……but my puppy is worth it! I read the thread again and decided to wait one more night! This morning Jude passed his sewing needle thread and all it was inside the cotton that I had fed him. So it took about 36 hours total! Thanks again everyone!

  12. Joselin on

    Hi my 8 week old puppy may have swallowed a push pin , But he doesn’t show any symptoms of sickness , he still eats normally and drinks water perfectly , can I ask how your Brittney reacted when she swallowed the needle ? Did she whine ? How did she behave ?

    • Fred Marion on

      Sorry for the delay. I hope everything turned out ok with your puppy! Maddy showed no symptoms of sickness when she swallowed the pin. She was happy as a lamb the entire time!

  13. Terry on

    I am now grateful for your posts. I came home from work on Friday to find my pin cushion and many pins on the floor. I don’t know if she ate any pins because she seems fine. I did notice that she must have been stuck by pins on her gums. Not sure what to do about her gums. Prayers for Tehya would be appreciated and any advice about her gums would be great. Thank you

    • Fred Marion on

      I’m not sure there’s much you can do about her gums. I’d imagine they will heal on their own pretty quickly. I really hope she passes the pins for you!

  14. Paige on

    My two dogs collectively ate an entire box of needles (like for a diabetic). They aren’t showing any sign of trauma and I don’t know what to do. They are just over a year old black and chocolate labs. Any suggestions????

    • Fred Marion on

      Wow. Sorry to hear that, Paige! I imagine those needles (hypodermics) are much larger than sewing needles and probably much harder to pass. Hopefully, they were capped. I’d suggest getting the dogs to your vet ASAP. Good luck, and please let us know how they fare!!

  15. Patience Lambert on

    My dog ate a open safety pin. Called vet going to try cotton and extra food if not exploratory surgery 😲 ugg hope not but shes our baby so .. Will try to update

    • Fred Marion on

      Good luck! Too bad the pin was open. If it was closed, it probably wouldn’t be an issue at all… Let us know how it turns out!

    • Fred Marion on

      Good luck! Too bad the pin was open. If it was closed, it probably wouldn’t be an issue at all… Let us know how it turns out!

  16. My mini schnauzer, Fritz, just swallowed a straight (sewing) pin. We can’t afford a large vet bill, so I immediately Googled and came across this blog. Thank you so much to everyone who has posted
    It is so reliving to know that other dogs have had the same problem and passed the pin. He just ate some cut cotton balls and peanut butter. We are definitely keeping an eye on him. We will update and post a picture WHEN he passes the pin (have to keep positive, right?). What other food can/should we feed him to hurry things along? Appreciate any and all suggestions. =) Thanks again.

  17. I took in a stray & shouldn’t have because I am penniless. Literally. The dog just ate a big needle & is now vomiting for 2 hours but hasn’t thrown it up. She keeps eating grass but she won’t eat any food I offer, not even peanut butter, so I know it’s bad. I really don’t know what to do & I absolutely cannot take her to a vet. I’m praying, if anyone has a suggestion please let me know

  18. I noticed my sewing needle with thread missing, didn’t think much of it until my 13 year old cocker spaniel threw it up today. He acted normal for this past week. Had a bunch of food around it. Thank you for this post, hopefully nothing happened with his insides. I freaked out when I saw the needle on the trow up. Can never be too careful!

  19. Aleksandra on

    My 8 month old, doberman puppy decided to swallow some needles. I didn’t see her do it, but I found around 30 pins taken out of my needle cushion in her bed. Took her immediately for an x-ray and as it turns out she swallowed (just) 2 of them. Since she didn’t display any symptoms of discomfort the vet decided to let her try and pass them by herself. We didn’t want to risk a surgery on a young puppy, which is still growing. Also, as with humans, surgery should always be the last resort.

    Anyway I started feeding her every 3 hours foods high in fiber (chicken + rice). Didn’t touch her belly, didn’t let her run or do any rapid movements (like jumping). Each day we were doing more x-ray and we were happy to see that both of the pins were moving. And finally after 32 hours the bigger one was out and later on after 36 hours we got the smaller one too.

    During all this time she was as happy as ever, always hungry (she really did appreciate the busy feeding schedule), drinking water normally, no puking and no diarrhea.

    While waiting for the pins to pass I did a lot of reading on the web and your blog was one of the few places that actually helped me keep my spirits up, as I was not looking forward to the surgery. Thank you for the feeding ideas, sharing of the experience and moral support. I hope my message will help someone too :)

  20. Pam barnard on

    Thank you for this blog. My 8 month dachshund ate a quilting stick pin today….Happy Thanksgiving to us! I am so nervous for her. She is acting fine, and we have started feeding her all the recommendations on her. How often should we feed her? Praying for a quick outcome. This is so scary.

    • Pam barnard on

      Happy outcome to Macy swallowing a quilting stick pin. After 4 days of over feeding her, she ended up throwing it up. Macy is an 8 month old 10 pound dachshund. I was very concerned because that was a really big pin. I didn’t want her to throw it up because of all that I had read. She had also swallowed a Lego head and a piece of pine cone ( busy day for that munchkin) so it was all churning in her tummy. She acted fine for those 4 days. Then just threw it up. No blood, no pain…. Ate dinner right after it happened. Crazy and amazing.

  21. Jackie on

    So, my 17 pound rat terrier/chihuahua mix may or may not have swallowed a sewing needle sometime this morning. I found him chewing on the plastic that the needles were attached to, and the needles themselves scattered around. He’d been coughing and gagging PRIOR to finding him with the plastic, but I’d assumed he just had a hairball (he likes to eat our other dog’s hair clumps scattered around the house) or maybe ate a pinecone or something crazy, but not lethal, like that. Since I have no idea when exactly he got into the needles/packaging, I’m going to try the shredded cotton balls and overfeeding with his normal food and canned pumpkin and peanut butter for the next 48 hours or so, keeping an eye on any bowel movements or unusual behavior. He’s stopped coughing and gagging since I fed him his first bowl of pumpkin, dog food, and cotton, and is energetic and playful, as usual. I’ll post an update once this ordeal has passed! Thank you so much for the helpful thread…

  22. Make My Dog Great Again on

    4 mo assiedoodle swallowed a sewing needle. Per advice here I immediately gave her about 6 chicken broth soaked cotton swabs, each torn in fourths. About 6-8 hours later she vomited up the cotton balls with the needle entangled in them. Incredible. Thanks for the advice!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *