Secure Your Bins!
Dogs are natural-born scavengers and will generally eat anything they can find lying around the house. This can include rotten or expired food, toxic-to-dog human foods (chocolate, grapes, onions, garlic etc), and even non-food items (clothes, human medicines, toys etc).
When a dog eats something he/she shouldn't have, the consequence is normally no more severe than vomiting, diarrhoea and tummy pain which can be treated quickly and easily at home or with a single visit to the vet clinic. If something toxic is ingested (like chocolate), the induction of vomiting is generally needed to remove the ingested food from the stomach before it can be digested and cause toxicity.
However, things can quickly take a turn for the worse if they swallow something that blocks part of the digestive system. Certain undigestible objects can get stuck in the stomach or intestines, stopping the passage of food and causing pressure to build up. This causes projectile vomiting and pain. As the pressure continues to build, the blood supply to the intestines can be affected leading to breakdown of the stomach / intestinal walls, infection and death. Common culprits we see are corncobs, socks, strings and large seeds (mango / avocado seeds).
This pup was presented to us 3 days after raiding the bathroom bin. He immediately started projectile vomiting every time he would eat. During the consultation he was found to be well except for mild dehydration (from the vomiting) and upper tummy pain. An ultrasound and radiograph (x-ray) was performed which showed a massive dilation of his stomach, and a completely empty small intestine.
So we made the decision to induce vomiting. He immediately vomited up a stomach-full of bathroom rubbish including tissue and sanitary items. This was blocking his stomach and stopping the passage of food. This material could not be digested and if left, may have moved into his intestines, where surgery would be needed to remove it.
Every dog will eat something they weren't meant to during their lifetime. You can minimise the risks of this by making sure your bins are dog proof, keeping socks and strings off the floor, and keeping food-scraps out of reach.