Found in the Stomachs of Cats

Dogs' and cats? appetites for oddities leads to millions in treatment costs.

Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. policyholders spent nearly $5.2 million treating dogs and cats that ingested foreign objects from January through November this year, VPI reported today.

The Brea, Calif.-based dog and cat insurance company received more than 6,500 foreign object ingestion claims during the 11-month period. Surgery to remove foreign objects from the stomach of a cat or dog cost an average of $1,472, and surgery to remove foreign objects from the intestine cost an average of $1,910.

Notable items ingested by VPI-insured dogs and cats through November include:
•    About 100 rocks;
•    A box of razor blades;
•    A foot-long metal hanger;
•    A cholla cactus;
•    130 fish oil capsules;
•    Chopsticks;
•    14 hair bands;
•    A cinnamon scented pine cone;
•    15 vanilla votive candles;
•    Clothing and rat poison;
•    Two baby bottle nipples;
•    Deer antlers;
•    Two plastic baggies and a bottle cap;
•    Dental floss;
•    Three sewing needles;
•    An entire tube of dog toothpaste;
•    Five pounds of trash and a scrub brush;
•    Artificial finger nails;
•    62 vitamin D soft gels;
•    A glass ornament;
•    5-inch skewer;
•    A golf ball skin;
•    A battery;
•    Glue;
•    A cell phone case;
•    A G.I. Joe;
•    A cork;
•    Hot chili peppers;
•    A dirty diaper;
•    Human feces
•    A fish hook and line;
•    A jellyfish;
•    A lobster shell;
•    Mothballs;
•    A makeup sponge;
•    A dental retainer;
•    A marijuana cookie;
•    Pennies and thumb tacks;
•    A package of fluorescent light bulbs;
•    Pepper spray;
•    A pillowcase;
•    Poison ivy;
•    A dead porcupine;
•    Ribbons and wrapping paper;
•    A burrito wrapped in foil;
•    Hemorrhoid suppositories;
•    Wires;
•    Soap;
•    A tent stake;
•    Staples;
•    A wedding ring;
•    A rat (swallowed whole);
•    An aluminum can;
•    A sweatshirt;
•    A rosebush;
•    The corner of a bed;
•    The head of stuffed animal, a long leather lace and multiple hard plastic pieces;
•    Two plastic eyeballs and a bunch of broccoli stems;
•    An adhesive bandages.

Dogs and cats that ate these items made full recoveries and received insurance reimbursements for eligible expenses.

Symptoms of foreign body ingestion include depression, a reluctance to eat or drink, vomiting, and occasionally diarrhea. If a dog or cat owner suspects foreign object ingestion, VPI recommends that the animal should be seen immediately by a veterinarian.

The company also recommends several measures to prevent accidental ingestion, including:
•    Monitoring dogs’ and cats’ behaviors and environment;
•    Placing items small enough to be swallowed out of pets’ reach;
•    Selecting toys that are appropriate for all animals in the home;
•    Monitoring toys for small pieces that may have been eaten.

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