But do dogs appreciate the sophisticated smorgasbord available to them? Whether his dish is filled with chicken byproduct or free-range fowl, you may still find yourself looking over an X-ray, trying to make out where your dog’s rib cage ends and the afternoon snack he made of the DVR remote begins.
The vets at the Animal Medical Center in Anniston have treated their share of dogs with unusual snacking habits. Dr. Barry Nicholls estimates that AMC, with its 24-hour emergency clinic, sees about one obstruction case a week.
“Everybody’s always trying to guess what it is,” he said.
Vets agree that certain breeds and ages seem to be more susceptible than others. Puppies are more likely to try something new, like, say, a G.I. Joe or a Mountain Dew can — a trait that lasts through their adolescent years. Which makes sense, according to Nicholls. After all, “teenagers aren’t very discerning on what they eat, either.”
According to Dr. Eric Clanton of Jacksonville, Labradors and Lab mixes set the gold standard for extreme snacking. “Those dogs will eat anything and everything,” he said.
Clanton once treated a lab for whom a silver spoon in his mouth just wasn’t enough. While clearing the dinner table, the owner (presumably succumbing to the infamous puppy-dog eyes) offered him a spoonful of leftovers. The dog promptly gobbled up the treat — and the spoon along with it.
“It just went straight down,” Clanton said. “He swallowed up everything.”
Labs and puppies aren’t the only dogs to watch out for. Don’t let their reputation as handbag accessories fool you; those little fluffy dogs — you know, the ones that resemble bedroom slippers — have made their share of curious snack choices.
Clanton once treated a Boston terrier with no clue as to what the obstruction could be. Even after he’d removed the perfectly round, black object, he wasn’t sure what he was looking at.
“So I threw it on the ground and it bounced,” he said. “How that dog swallowed a racquet ball, I have no idea.”
Arguably the most popular item with extreme snackers is hosiery. Nicholls has removed knee-high stockings from a Shih Tzu, a stocking cap from a Maltese and a “tiny, pink thong” from a Doberman that belonged to a nightclub bouncer.
“My first thought was, boy, is he going to be surprised,” Nicholls recalled. “But then I thought, no, probably not.”
Likely more surprised was the woman who took her dog to a colleague of Clanton’s after the pup finished off a pair of monogrammed men’s socks. Though it was certainly helpful that he kept the set together, the woman perhaps would have found it more helpful if the pup had dined on hosiery that was monogrammed with her husband’s initials, not another man’s.
As Clanton said: “You just never know what you’re going to find.”
Sometimes what is found is enough to send an extreme snacker back to his grain-free, hypoallergenic food dish.
The day after James Harris came home feeling sick, it seemed like Tinker, his 5-year-old mixed-breed, had caught the same thing.
That theory turned out not to be too far off. But it wasn’t the same illness making Tinker sick, as much as the chunk of driveway he’d consumed in his attempt to diagnose the funky smell Harris had left on his way into the house the day before.
“He investigates things,” Harris explained. “He’s got that mischievous side about him.”
Harris rushed the ailing pup to AMC. Two flushings in as many days removed two pounds of gravel from his stomach — as well as any taste Tinker may have had for the inedible. Today, Harris said, “he won’t chew so much as a flip-flop.”