No surprise here, golden retrievers more likely to eat stuff they shouldn’t
Each month, we explain a few questions from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study questionnaire.
During the holiday season, good cheer, delicious treats and presents are plentiful. For a curious dog, there’s an abundance of new items to sniff, chew on, and possibly swallow. We ask our participating veterinarians in the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study to keep track of the stomach and intestinal diseases they encounter in our study dogs, including what are politely referred to as “foreign bodies.”
Dogs are notoriously indiscriminate about what they will put in their mouths. They will chew, gnaw, lick and bite just about anything. Whether purposeful or accidental, dogs often swallow objects that are large enough to get lodged in their esophagus, stomach or intestine.
The most common sign of foreign body ingestion is vomiting, with lethargy and anorexia the next most common signs. Although many dogs will either vomit up or defecate ingested materials, surgery is occasionally required. The statistics aren’t clear regarding how many dogs require surgery to remove a foreign object, but the overall prognosis, even if surgery is needed, is excellent.
Numerous published studies focus on the diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of dogs with various types of foreign bodies, but only a handful describe demographic characteristics of the dogs that exhibit this behavior.
Not surprisingly, the majority of studies show foreign body ingestion is much more common in dogs under 5 years of age than older dogs. One survey report from Banfield Pet Hospital concluded that dachshunds, beagles, Labrador retrievers and golden retrievers were the most common breeds examined by staff veterinarians for foreign body ingestion (adjusted for total number of dogs seen). The breed-type demographic appears to change in other countries. For example, in Great Britain, English bull terriers are much more likely to ingest a foreign object than any other breed.
The types of foreign objects ingested also differs among studies. The British study dogs favored latex baby bottle nipples, while bones were most common in the Banfield study.
However, what remains unknown is a more complete picture of the dogs likely to ingest foreign objects. The Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study provides a view of how other factors, like behavior and environment, might influence foreign object ingestion.
We looked at our Golden Retriever Lifetime Study dogs at baseline and found that 91 dogs (roughly 3 percent of participants) were reported as having ingested a foreign a foreign object. This incidence is higher than the population measured in the Banfield study, which reported a 0.3 percent incidence in their patient population. The reason for the difference is not clear yet, but may reflect the intense scrutiny of our study dogs by both their owners and veterinarians. One of the many benefits of monitoring dogs for their lifetimes is the ability to find risk factors that are not readily apparent in the “snapshot” view approach taken by most researchers.
Keep your dog safe this holiday season, and be on the look-out for tempting potential hazards that may undermine your celebration with an unexpected visit to your veterinarian! Happy holidays and, from everyone at Morris Animal Foundation, we wish you a wonderful new year!