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Pets’ Appetite for Oddities Leads to Millions in Treatment Costs

Posted: Dec. 14, 2011, 2:05 p.m. EST

Pets eat strange things
Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. policyholders spent nearly $5.2 million treating pets that ate foreign objects from January through November this year, VPI reported today.

The Brea, Calif.-based pet insurance company received more than 6,500 foreign object ingestion claims during the 11-month period. Surgery to remove foreign objects from the stomach of a pet cost an average of $1,472, and surgery to remove foreign objects from the intestine cost an average of $1,910.

Notable items ate by VPI-insured dogs and cats through November include:

• About 100 rocks;
• A box of razor blades;
• A foot-long metal hanger;
• A cholla cactus;
• 130 fish oil capsules;
• Chopsticks;
• 14 hair bands;
• A cinnamon scented pine cone;
• 15 vanilla votive candles;
• Clothing and rat poison;
• Two baby bottle nipples;
• Deer antlers;
• Two plastic baggies and a bottle cap;
• Dental floss;
• Three sewing needles;
• An entire tube of dog toothpaste;
• Five pounds of trash and a scrub brush;
• Artificial finger nails;
• 62 vitamin D soft gels;
• A glass ornament;
• 5-inch skewer;
• A golf ball skin;
• A battery;
• Glue;
• A cell phone case;
• A G.I. Joe;
• A cork;
• Hot chili peppers;
• A dirty diaper;
• Human feces
• A fish hook and line;
• A jellyfish;
• A lobster shell;
• Mothballs;
• A makeup sponge;
• A dental retainer;
• A marijuana cookie;
• Pennies and thumb tacks;
• A package of fluorescent light bulbs;
• Pepper spray;
• A pillowcase;
• Poison ivy;
• A dead porcupine;
• Ribbons and wrapping paper;
• A burrito wrapped in foil;
• Hemorrhoid suppositories;
• Wires;
• Soap;
• A tent stake;
• Staples;
• A wedding ring;
• A rat (swallowed whole);
• An aluminum can;
• A sweatshirt;
• A rosebush;
• The corner of a bed;
• The head of stuffed animal, a long leather lace and multiple hard plastic pieces;
• Two plastic eyeballs and a bunch of broccoli stems;
• An adhesive bandages.

Pets that ate these items made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Symptoms of foreign body ingestion include depression, a reluctance to eat or drink, vomiting, and occasionally diarrhea. If a pet owner suspects foreign object ingestion, VPI recommends that the animal should be seen immediately by a veterinarian.

The company also recommends several measures to prevent accidental ingestion, including:

• Monitoring pets’ behaviors and environment;
• Placing items small enough to be swallowed out of pets’ reach;
• Selecting toys that are appropriate for all animals in the home;
• Monitoring toys for small pieces that may have been eaten.

For more examples of the strange things pets have eaten, check out the winners of Veterinary Practice News' "They Ate What?" X-ray contest.



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