Recently, I got to experience something for the first time in my life. The Tong side of the family got together for a family reunion. My Aunt Sharon decided last year that she was no longer satisfied with “wedding and funerals” as the only reasons to get together as a family and orchestrated the whole reunion.
As I was planning our trip to the reunion I had to make the important decision that many pet owners are faced with on a regular basis. Who is going to take care of the dog? Should I get a dog sitter? cut the fun day short? or just take him with us? I called Aunt Sharon to ask a bit of a silly question “Is it okay if I bring my dog, Marty McFly?” After some quick research about whether the park allowed pets – we decided that it would be okay to bring him along.
Our trip was an easy one, we got there in time for plenty of food, drink, yard games and family time. Marty was a big hit with the younger members of the family – and although he is not always excited to see the younger crowd, he did well. We set him up in an exercise pen in a nice shady spot with a fan blowing on him and plenty of water available on that hot summer day.
There are plenty of things to consider when you are taking a dog into a public place like a park or a campground for instance food and water supply, ticks and flea control, leashes and poop pick up bags. One thing that I had not thought of in my preparations for the outing was Marty finding things on the ground left by other campers or park patrons.
On one of Marty’s leashed excursions around the shelter house he was seen eating something that looked a little like a marshmallow but was thought to have been at least something firm and white. Marty snatched the mysterious object so quickly that no one could be sure what it was that he had eaten. So the veterinarian in me went into emergency mode. Do I do nothing and let him try and pass whatever it was and run the risk of needing surgery in the next few days if it caused a blockage? Do I induce vomiting to be certain that it didn’t have time to cause a blockage? Or do I give him a laxative to help him “moves things along?”
Many times with ingestion of foreign objects people know a few of the facts but usually not the whole story. In this case we knew WHEN he ate whatever he ate but not WHAT he ate. It’s often ill-advised to make a pet vomit when we know that something was eaten more than two or three hours beforehand. Most things have left the stomach by 3 hours and inducing vomiting may actually cause more damage by leading to aspiration pneumonia when vomit goes “down the wrong pipe” and into the lungs.
I decided to induce vomiting as it had only been minutes since he ate the potentially problematic item. I drove to the closest supermarket and purchased hydrogen peroxide. After the we gave the peroxide orally, we found out that the thing that looked like a marshmallow was in fact a harmless marshmallow.
It is important to be aware of what your dog may be getting into when out on excursions. It can also be helpful to have basic first aid kits for emergencies – canine or otherwise. In this case the hydrogen peroxide was used to help Marty bring back the mysterious marshmallow but also for a skinned knee by one of the younger family members. Thankfully though, my poor little pooch was the only one at the reunion to “toss his cookies” and it wasn’t even due to bad potato salad.
Dr. Marisa Tong is an associate veterinarian at Delphos Animal Hospital.