You come home one day to discover that your pooch has ripped apart your pair of zippered pants, shoes, or pillows, but the zipper is missing!
You frantically scour the house for the zipper but your search turns up nothing. That’s when you’ll be hit by the gruesome realization that Fido might have swallowed the zipper in the process of playing with it.
As a concerned pet parent, this may get you wondering to yourself – my dog ate a metal zipper, will he be okay?
Zippers are classified among the most dangerous foreign substances that dogs shouldn’t eat. These objects can cause a host of nasty complications if ingested, including gastrointestinal blockage and internal hemorrhage. And it’s only worse if your dog has swallowed metallic zipper. That’s because a dog’s digestive system, just like a human’s, cannot break down metals.
This article offers more insights into what could possibly go wrong if your dog ate a metal zipper. We’ll also highlight what you should do if you suspect that your pooch has ingested a metal zipper, how to minimize the occurrence of these situations, among other areas of interest.
What Is A Zipper?
A zipper is a type of fastener designed with two rows of teeth which sit on opposite sides of a slider. You open or close the zipper by pulling the slider that straddles the two sets of teeth.
Zippers are commonly used on bags, suitcases, and luggage. You’ll also find them on garments, shoes, pillows, duvets, and many other items.
A zipper can be made from various materials. The most common ones are metal, plastic, and rubber.
None of these materials is safe for dogs. But compared side by side, metal is the most dangerous if ingested. Plastic and rubber follow in that order.
Why Would A Dog Eat A Metal Zipper?
A frequently raised concern by many dog owners is, “my dog ate a small piece of metal, how do I handle such situation?”
It can be challenging to deal with a situation where your dog has swallowed a metal zipper or other metallic objects. But even before we get to this, it’s important to understand why the animal decided to a piece of metal in the first place.
The following are some of the reasons that might cause your dog to eat a metal zipper;
This is a no-brainer. An underfed dog will certainly develop unbecoming eating behaviors.
When a dog is hungry, he will likely go scavenging the trash cans or steal food from the kitchen counter. In the worst-case scenario, the animal may resort to eating foreign objects like zippers.
2. Nutritional Deficiency
Serving your dog the same diet for months on end is nearly as detrimental to his health as underfeeding him.
If your dog is missing certain essential nutrients in his diet, he may want to chew on foreign objects like metal zippers. The logic is that the animal’s nutritional deficiencies make him feel weak and fatigued all the time, even after eating.
What happens when you’ve been sitting in the office for hours without serious assignments to undertake? You may go to social media, decide to take a nap, or round up your colleagues for a steamy gossip session.
Boredom can equally make our canine friends turn to certain self-destructive behaviors. The most common ones include excessive scratching or digging, unexplained agitation/aggression, and eating foreign objects.
4. Stress and Anxiety
Stress can adversely affect your dog’s sense of judgment. It’s worse if the animal is suffering from a full-blown anxiety disorder, such as separation anxiety.
Dogs with separation anxiety tend to display unreasonable attachment for their owner’s personal effects. That’s especially if such objects are owner-scented.
Separation anxiety also produces excessive chewing and unusual eating habits as its other core symptoms. So, in the process of wanting to cling to your zippered clothing, shoes, or bags, your pooch might accidentally chew and swallow the zipper.
They say curiosity killed the cat. But dogs are equally guilty.
If your dog is coming into contact with a zipper for the first time, there’s a decent chance that he’ll get it into his mouth.
Puppies are considerably more curious than adult dogs. These little cuties explore their surroundings by mouthing, tasting, and chewing. But in the process, they may swallow foreign objects and become seriously ill.
Teething is another common reason puppies, in particular, may eat metal zippers.
The pressure applied when a dog’s teeth break out of the jawline can cause excruciating pain and irritation. As such, the teething puppy may want to chew on foreign substances like metal zippers to alleviate the discomfort. And that’s when such objects might be accidentally swallowed.
Perhaps you’ve been wondering, ‘my puppy just swallowed the small metal zipper par, what could be the reason?’ As we’ve just hinted, there’s a high chance that the dog is teething.
7. Medical Conditions
Certain mental and neurological conditions can predispose your dog to eating metal zippers and other foreign objects.
One such disease is pica, an eating disorder where animals (particularly cats and dogs) develop a sudden taste for inedible or indigestible substances.
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What Happens If A Dog Eats A Piece Of Metal?
Now that you understand the various factors that could make your dog want to eat a metal zipper, maybe your next question is, ‘how do I know if my dog has eaten metal?’
Several things could go wrong if your pooch accidentally ingests a metal zipper or another piece of metallic object. They include;
1. Oral Pain
Metallic substances can lacerate a dog’s tongue and oral cavity, causing unbearable pain.
Signs of oral bleeding and gum inflammation might suggest that your pooch has attempted to chew on a sharp metal zipper.
2. Cracked Teeth
A dog’s teeth aren’t strong enough to break down metallic objects. Therefore, the animal may chip or crack his teeth in the process of chewing a metal zipper. It’s worse for puppies with underdeveloped teeth.
You can manually examine your dog’s mouth for signs of chipped or cracked teeth. Missing teeth is an indication that the chewing problem may have been going on for long behind your back.
A metal zipper may get stuck in your dog’s throat as the animal attempts to swallow it, causing asphyxiation.
Common symptoms to watch out for include coughing, dilated pupils, watery eyes, hypersalivation, and irregular breathing patterns.
4. Internal Hemorrhage
Metal zippers tend to have serrated edges. The sharp edges could puncture your dog’s gastrointestinal tract and lead to severe hemorrhage.
Blood in poop, pee, and saliva are all signs of internal bleeding. But by the time you notice these symptoms, the situation usually has escalated into life-threatening levels.
5. Gastrointestinal Blockage
Metallic objects can prove difficult for a dog’s teeth to break down. In most cases, the animal will swallow them whole.
But can dogs’ stomach dissolve metal? Absolutely not. The metal will simply stay in the animal’s tummy. And if ingested in large amounts, it can cause gastrointestinal blockage.
Just like internal bleeding, gastrointestinal blockage is a serious medical emergency that may need urgent surgery. Even if the zipper manages to get to the other end, your dog may still strain to remove it.
Peritonitis is an infection of the abdominal cavity. It’s likely to occur if your dog has ingested a metal zipper contaminated with bacteria.
Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, inappetence, and abdominal discomfort.
Certain metals, such as zinc and copper, can be toxic to dogs if ingested.
Immediate symptoms include gastric irritation, weakness, and lethargy. If untreated, the toxins in such metals can cause long-term organ damage.
What Do I Do If My Dog Swallowed A Metal Zipper?
It’s not unusual to come across a dog owner wondering, ‘my dog ate a zipper, what should I do?’
Usually, the first thing to do if you suspect that your dog has swallowed foreign objects is to determine the quantity consumed and then watch out for any symptoms. But this doesn’t necessarily apply to metal zippers, as even tiny fragments can cause devastating consequences. Therefore, your best bet is to whisk your dog to a veterinary clinic immediately.
Be sure to supply the vet with information regarding the suspected amount of zipper and other foreign objects ingested, and the duration from the time of exposure. The vet may also need to know the frequency of this behavior to make an accurate diagnosis.
After supplying this information, the veterinarian officer may proceed to perform an X-ray of your dog’s digestive tract. This allows them to pinpoint the exact location the metal zipper could be lodged. The X-ray will also reveal if the swallowed zipper has caused any serious damage to your dog’s digestive system.
Lastly, the vet will recommend one or more of the following treatment options;
- Inducing vomiting and/or diarrhea, especially if the fragments swallowed are relatively small.
- Feeding your dog fiber-rich diets to boost stool bulkiness and consequently increase bowel activity.
- Conducting a surgical procedure to extract the swallowed zipper, especially if the object is too large to move through your dog’s stomach.
What Shouldn’t I Do If My Dog Has Swallowed A Metal Zipper?
The obvious thing not to do if your pooch has ingested a metal zipper is to sit idly and wait for the object to come out on the other end. There’s a possibility that a dog may poop small fragments of a metallic zipper. But the last thing you want to do is adopt a wait-and-see attitude.
It’s also prudent to avoid inducing vomiting or diarrhea. At least not before consulting your vet. Inducing vomiting and diarrhea is an effective tip for flushing out certain foreign substances from a dog’s tummy.
However, this strategy may not work for metallic zippers. The involuntary muscle contractions and high amount of pressure that characterize vomiting and diarrhea may cause the metallic zipper to puncture through your dog’s alimentary canal.
Last but not least, do not pull a metal zipper out of your dog’s rectum or mouth. This could cause further injuries to the animal.
What Are Other Commonly Swallowed Objects?
A metal zipper isn’t the only dangerous substance that your dog may swallow. Dogs are also known to ingest the following foreign objects;
- Clothing items, especially underwear, socks, and shoelaces
- Strings and threads
- Toys, including chew toys and balls
- Rocks and small debris
- Pieces of jewelry and ceramics
- Plastic, rubber, and glass fragments
- Christmas tree tinsel
- Other metallic objects, such as coins, needles, and pins
How Do I Prevent My Dog From Eating A Metal Zipper?
Ingesting a metal zipper can leave your dog nursing a host of medical complications. The resultant treatment may also set you back by hundreds of dollars, especially if it involves a surgical procedure. Not to mention the emotional pain and agony both you and the dog may undergo during the treatment process.
Fortunately, you can implement the following tips to minimize the chances of your pooch eating metal zippers and other inedible substances;
1. Keep All Zippered Items Out Of Reach
This is probably the most effective way to prevent a dog from eating a metal zipper.
If your dog cannot access your zippered garments and suitcases, then he’ll certainly not be able to eat the zippers.
2. Ensure the Dog Is Well-fed
A well-fed dog will not go rummaging through the house or dust bins feeding on inedible substances.
However, remember that quantity alone isn’t enough. It’s also prudent to give your dog a well-balanced diet to avoid aberrant eating habits caused by nutritional deficiencies.
3. Keep Your Dog Stimulated
Boredom, stress, and curiosity can all make your dog resort to unhealthy eating habits like eating metal zippers. In this case, the eating behavior is simply the dog’s coping strategy.
Keeping your pooch stimulated can go a long way in minimizing eating disorders resulting from boredom, stress, and excess curiosity.
Be sure to walk and exercise your dog for at least thirty minutes twice a day, three to four days a week. Besides, provide the animal with mentally enriching toys to keep him occupied in your absence. These should include safe chew toys for teething puppies.
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4. Schedule Regular Medical Checkups
Taking your dog for regular medical examinations can help uncover any underlying eating disorders and have such conditions treated before they slip out of hand.
A metal zipper (or any zipper for that matter) is one of the foreign objects that dogs shouldn’t eat. Therefore, it’s important to proactively prevent your dog from coming into contact with these substances and possibly ingesting them.
And if you ever discover that your pooch has ingested a metal zipper behind your back, the best course of action is to immediately take the animal to a veterinary clinic.
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