The Problem with Dog Rope Toys and Blankets (a word of warning!)

Rope toys, blankets and any other material can cause serious problems if your dog is a compulsive chewer.

In fact, they could be fatal…

blanket chewing and rope toys in dogs - the risk of a linear foreign body

My dog sucks on blankets, well any type of material really. Will this harm him? - Sarah

This might seem like a simple question, and something that is not so much of a problem, but sucking or chewing on anything made of material can be deadly. Long strands get broken off and swallowed which then have the potential to result in something that we call linear foreign bodies.

What is a Linear Foreign Body?

This is any material or item that is long and stretched out. What can happen here is that they will become stretched out along the length of the intestine inside, and then one end can actually quite easily get stuck. This results in the intestines becoming bunched up as they continue to try and propel this material through the intestines.

The material then starts to saw its way through the intestines as they're contracting. The intestinal wall is rubbing against this material. The result is that it starts effectively cheese wiring through the intestinal wall.

You can see that this is clearly going to be a big problem!

Septic peritonitis

Linear foreign bodies can cause perforations, or holes, to form in the intestine. As a result, something called septic peritonitis develops. The abdominal cavity becomes infected with gut contents and bacteria.

Septic peritonitis doesn't sound like a nice condition and it's really not. It has about a 50% fatality rate!

To make matters worse, when it comes to linear foreign bodies, the perforation is often in an area that is really challenging to determine if there's a hole present or not. Even with the best surgeon, the best surgical team, it can be that there are holes that are in the intestine that go undetected.

Repeat surgeries may be needed, and septic peritonitis can develop. This can be life threatening.

If this problem is caught earlier, then emergency surgery is still going to be required because we're going to need to remove that string or piece of material before it becomes a problem. This alone often needs multiple enterotomies.

Surgery complications

We're going to have to make multiple cuts into the intestine to remove the string or material. It's amazing how long they can be and they generally become stuck in multiple spots. So we need to make a little incision to remove the string in one part. It then becomes stuck and so we have to cut the string and then make a hole somewhere else to get the rest of it. This can need to be done a number of times and can really increase the risk of post-op complications again.

Any time we make an incision or a cut into the intestines, then there's about a 10% chance that we're going to get post-surgery complications. The more holes we need to make, the higher the likelihood of these complications.

Sucking on blankets, chewing on any type of material, might not seem like it's going to cause a problem. But it can ultimately cause fatal complications and fatal disease despite the best treatment and best care that can be given.

Choose the Best Dog Chew Toys

So really, the bottom line is don't let your dog chew or suck on anything fabric. Be sure to remove anything that's becoming frayed, any bedding or towels or whatever it is. Also, rope tug toys are not chew toys. Don't leave things like rope toys for your dog just to chew on and chew on. They can fray and then be swallowed. You should be using rope toys under supervision only as tug toys. We don't want to leave them as chew toys.

There are plenty of other alternatives to those such as Kong’s, licki mats and all manner of food puzzles we can use instead. Even with these, you need to choose something that your dog won’t be able to easily destroy, and replace them at the first sign of damage. Solid toys can still be swallowed and cause an obstruction if small pieces are chewed off.

You can find all my chew toy and food puzzle recommendations to buy here

So I hope that gives you some ideas. I certainly to discourage you from letting your dog do these things, but there are alternatives as well that you can use for your dog to chew on and to keep them mentally stimulated and to provide them with rewards as well.

The above is a transcript taken from “The Dr Alex Answers Show”.

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