July 03, 2024 Dogs Pet Safety

Summer Food Hazards for Dogs

A dog sitting in the grass

Summer Food Hazards for Dogs

One of the best things about summer is the food. If you’re like me, going to the farmer’s market for seasonal food, like fresh fruit and corn on the cob, is a joy. Add those summer treats to your backyard picnic of hot dogs, burgers and shish kebabs and you have a memorable summer evening. However, what many families don’t realize is the threat these culinary delights pose to their dogs, in part, because they are difficult to identify quickly using routine x-rays.

The Canine Perils of Grilling

Food on sticks—hors d’oeuvres on toothpicks or meat and vegetables on wooden skewers—are exceptionally treacherous items for dogs. Wood does not show upon x-rays, so it is difficult to identify, and the pointy end of the stick can pierce the intestinal wall resulting in a serious abdominal infection.

It’s not just grilled food that’s an issue; the cleanup poses problems too. Dogs eat indiscriminately, and if it tastes good, it goes down the hatch. The white squiggly material seen on the canine abdominal x-ray below turned out to be a used steel wool pad saturated with grease and bits of burger. It gave the dog a terrible upset stomach, but AMC’s board-certified surgeons were able to remove the steel wool and the dog recovered.

An x-ray of a steel wool foreign body in a dog
Steel wool foreign body in a dog

Fruit Pits Can be the Pits for Dogs

Unlike cats, dogs have a sweet tooth, and this can get them in trouble with fresh fruit. Last week at AMC, a dog needed a plum pit removed from its stomach. The situation is not unique to plums but any stone fruit such as peaches, apricots and nectarines. Fruit pits go down easily but, in small dogs, a pit can lodge in the intestine and require surgery to remove. AMC’s Internal Medicine Service removed this plum pit using an endoscope. Another dog got a watermelon rind lodged in its esophagus, and the Internal Medicine Service fixed that one too!

Corn Cob Blockages

Dogs love their sweets, but some cannot resist a bit of salt and butter. Their passion for salt and butter makes corn cobs deadly. Corn cobs show up better on x-rays than wooden skewers, but corn cobs can be hard to find if you are not looking very carefully. In the x-ray below, you can clearly see the corn cob causing a blockage. AMC’s surgery team successfully removed this vegetable obstruction.

An x-ray of a corn cob foreign body in a dog
Corn cob foreign body in a dog

Avoiding Skewer, Pit and Cob Hazards for Pets

The obvious approach to avoiding skewers, pits and cobs is keeping the trash can tightly covered. But dogs are sly and during a party will take a shish kebab off the table and eat the food plus the skewer when no one is watching. Children are often to blame as they drop these items while eating. Consider making dining areas off limits to pets, at least until the leftovers can be cleaned up. If your dog is sick and you have recently included stone fruit, shish kebabs or corn on the cob in your menu, be sure to alert your veterinarian to the possibility of your dog having eating one of these items. Also, don’t forget to close the compost bin tightly. While composting is environmentally good, the bin contents can be deadly.

Tags: corn cobs, dogs, endoscopy, foreign bodies, fruit pits, grilling, radiographs, skewers, summer, x-rays,

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