Black dog chewing on doll

Q: I think our dog swallowed the head from one of my daughter’s Barbies since the doll is now headless and we can’t find the missing piece anywhere. The vet said not to worry unless there are symptoms. Really? — via e-mail

A: If your dog is eating, drinking and eliminating normally, there’s probably nothing to worry about. The piece may have been chewed to bits before the bits were swallowed, or never swallowed at all. And if he did swallow something, you may have already missed the head’s re-emergence, because, well, how many people want to examine a dog’s feces all that closely in a search of missing objects? So be alert for symptoms, but your dog doesn’t need to see the veterinarian unless you notice problems.

Labradors are infamous in veterinary offices for their eagerness to consume just about anything that’s not nailed down — and even some things that are. Socks, underwear, rocks, keys, toys, cell phones — if it can fit in the mouth, there’s a Labrador who will swallow it. (Needless to say, Labradors are also well-known for their appetites, which earn them the veterinary nickname of “Flabradors.”) The best cure for this is preventive, especially with young dogs. Keep anything that can be swallowed picked up and placed out of reach of your dog.

While many swallowed objects will pass through without causing problems, others can be deadly. If a pet vomits, loses interest in eating or drinking or otherwise seems “off” after ingesting a foreign body, you’ll need your veterinarian’s help.

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This article was written by a Veterinarian.