Malamutes will eat anything. It never ceases to amaze me the stories Malamute owners tell about what their dog has ingested...the list is amazing. You can tell a Malamute owner your story, and chances are they will have one even more incredible.
- wallet contents
- aluminum can shrapnel
- fiberfill fluff (I think this is a food group)
- Pocket contents AND the pocket
- Toys of all kinds
- A kong
- hats, socks, underwear
- Eyeglass parts
- Rocks and gravel
- Pins and needles
- Elbow length glove
- Coins and money
- Every kind of plant and stick imaginable
- Barbie doll body parts and accessories
- Stolen garbage
- Toilet paper and paper towels (another food group)
- Small cloth items
- Cell phone parts
- Camera parts
- Chip bags & candy wrappers
- Dog bed
And these are just things I've heard of personally. Nothing is really safe around a Malamute puppy - and sometimes an older dog. Dogs experience the world through their mouths and think nothing of eating just about anything. As a Malamute owner, you need to be aware of this. One of the reasons Malamutes are an expensive dog to own is they tend to eat a lot of things they shouldn't early in life - with the accompanying vet bills. Actually it amazes me just how many of these things "pass" with the dog unharmed. Make sure you know the symptoms of a blockage and what to do about it. While most items your Malamute eats will usually pass in a few days, occasionally they do get stuck and some things are just too dangerous to wait for passage(ie: string, pennies, batteries, sharp objects).
Generally as a rule of thumb, if it's a paper product - don't worry too much. It will probably pass throughthe digestive system without harm. Riggs has eaten entire rolls of toilet paper without harm. Small items that can be swallowed without chewing are the most dangerous - golf balls, balloons, and cat toys for example. Also items that can compact in the gut- particularly if they are made of hard plastic or rubber because they can't slide easily through the intestines. Some things can lacerate the intestine walls - like paper clips, chicken bones, razorblades, needles and pins. Make sure you puppy-proof your home well, getting on your hands and knees and looking for things the dog may find or steal.
If despite your precautions, your Malamute swallows something, your vet will need a description of the object. Depending on what it is, they may decide to give the dog something to make him vomit. Peroxide or Syrup of Ipecac are good to have on hand in case your dog ingests poisons and must be made to vomit. Activated Charcoal is good for the same purpose, and absorbs toxins. When something small and sharp is swallowed, I've heard of feeding the dog bread or pieces of cotton (I can't say if they work or not - these were recommended by a vet but you should always consult your own vet first). For items that slow the movement of the intestinesand cause a blockage, your vet may give barium - then X-ray at regular intervals in an attempt to track the item and see if there is a blockage or if it's moving. A side benefit is the barium in itself can help move the item along. When Theodore decided to eat a small cloth toy and a bunch of fiberfill our vet gave him barium and kept him overnight to track the progress of the fiberfill "plug". I was pretty upset when they sent him home the next day ...but she was right - out it came the next day. The barium helped the vet track the movement of the fiberfill and eventually allowed it to pass without surgery. I've heard the home remedy of olive oil works well too. Stool softeners are another item every Malamute owner should have in their "unplug and keep it moving" arsenal.
Theodore as a puppy would eat anything...one day he stopped eating his food and began refusing water. Time for a trip to the vet. Fortunately our favorite vet that is very good with gastrointestinal issues was in! She felt giving him barium was the least invasive method. They would give him barium down a tube in his throat and watch him for 24 hours to see if the barium "stopped". 24 hours later it had moved less than they thought and the weekend was looming. Rather than keep him unsupervised at the vet office, she sent him home with instructions - fully expecting whatever it is to appear. While sending him home made me a bit nervous, she was right - It did. Three days later he pooped out the pure white barium poop and a small cloth flower from a toy. Success! No surgery necessary....here are the xrays from the barium as we watched it move along ....
1st Xray of potential blockage Barium is administered Friday AM 1 hour later
5 pm Friday Saturday Morning
Still not out...finally.... the toy appears Sunday afternoon.
If all else fails, watch for danger signs indicating the object is stuck. A loss of appetite, vomiting, a very painful abdomen and lethargy. If your dog shows these signs even if you didn't see him swallow anything, you should suspect an intestinal obstruction. If all else fails - the barium, olive oil, and patience - your dog may need surgery to remove the item. An obstruction is a life threatening situation and the dog will seem to be fine, then go downhill quickly. String obstructions are especially bad because they can get caught and tie off parts of the intestine, killing tissue. This is particularly dangerous as the necrotic tissue can cause very bad things like blood poisoning and infection, besides the obstruction.
The best solution of all is SUPERVISE SUPERVISE SUPERVISE and take away anything that you think your puppy may try and swallow. Make sure the kids pick up their toys and do a count to make sure small parts aren't missing. Make sure items like sanitary pads and tampons are in inaccessible trash cans. If your dog appears to have swallowed something, watch him closely. He will tend to drink a lot of water - nature's effort to dislodge the item. I've seen Malamutes swallow small toys and pieces of tennis ball - only to throw them back up DAYS and occasionally weeks later with no ill effects. But all it takes is that one time to kill your dog. Malamutes are hearty, and most of the time these things do pass through, but you have to make sure they do by checking poop and watching for signs of obstruction.
I think every Malamute in his life has given his owner at least one good scare because he ate something he shouldn't have. One dog we know of was a regular rock eater...one day she bloated - and miraculously the 5 lbs. of rocks in her stomach kept her from torsioning and probably saved her life! (not saying you should let your dog eat rocks - just an interesting story!). Another ate an entire Kong toy...and required surgery to remove it. Still others have died from an unknown obstruction because no one recoginzed the symptoms until too late.
A friend's dog swallowed an open safety pin - she was able to let it safely pass by feeding her dog cotton balls! (don't do this without your veterinarian's blessing!). The cotton balls wrapped around the pin's sharp parts and allowed it to safely plass.
Be careful with Nylabones - I understand they do not show up on rays which means your vet may miss seeing that there is an obstruction. If you buy Nylabones - but the really large ones - you don't want the dog being able to chew off a chunk and swallow it.
Your dog will never be totally safe. They are Malamutes - bred for centuries to eat anything to survive. Young puppies are notorious for eating grass, bugs, sticks, and rocks in the yard - and most are never harmed by this. Somehow they survive until adulthood...sometimes I wonder how.