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:
- 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.
- 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:
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: