Foreign Objects in a Dog's Mouth, Nose, or Throat
Foreign objects in the mouth include bone splinters, slivers of wood, sewing
needles and pins, porcupine quills, fish hooks, and plant awns. Sharp objects
can penetrate the lips, gums, and tongue. Other objects
can get caught between the teeth or wedged across the roof of the mouth. Pieces
of string can become wrapped around the teeth and tongue.
A common place for a penetrating foreign body is beneath the tongue. On
lifting the tongue, you may see a grapelike swelling or a draining tract. This means the
foreign body has been present for some time.
In areas where cockle and sand burrs are prevalent, many small spines can
become embedded in the tongue and gums as the dog
grooms burrs from her coat and feet.
The signs of a foreign body are pawing at the mouth, rubbing the mouth along
the floor, drooling, gagging, licking the lips
repeatedly, and holding the mouth open. When a foreign object has been present
for a day or longer, the principal signs may be lethargy, bad breath, and refusal to
Treatment: Obtain a good light source and gently examine your dog’s mouth,
as described earlier in this chapter. A good look may reveal the cause. It is
possible to directly remove some foreign bodies. Others will require a general
anesthetic, which means a trip to the veterinarian.
A thread attached to a needle should not be pulled out, because it can be
used to locate the needle.
Foreign bodies present for a day or longer are difficult to remove and may
cause infection. They must be removed, and the dog evaluated, by a
veterinarian. After removal, the dog is placed on an antibiotic for one
To remove a fish hook from the lip, if the barb is visible, cut
the shank next to the barb with wire cutters and remove the hook in two pieces.
If the barb is embedded in the lip, determine which direction the barb is
pointed and push the hook through until the barb is free. Do not try to pull
the barbed end back through the tissue! Then cut the hook and remove it. Treat
the puncture wound as described in
Do not attempt to remove a fish hook embedded in the mouth or one that has
been swallowed with the line attached. Take your dog to the veterinarian at