Of all things to eat. That bottle cap.
And now you’re worried.
Likely very worried.
Especially if they’ve swallowed it whole without chewing.
Or maybe they did bite it into tiny sharp pieces first.
Either way, it’s gone down the hatch.
What do you need to do? How dangerous is this? Well here is exactly what you need to know, and now do.
So, what should you do if your dog has eaten a bottle cap? If your dog has eaten a bottle cap (either plastic or metal), you should contact a vet immediately. Acting swiftly is essential to prevent the cap from passing through the stomach and into the intestines, where it can cause blockage/require surgery to remove.
What Will Happen To A Dog That Eats A Bottle Cap?
If a bottle cap gets lodged in your dog’s throat, they might have difficulty breathing, start to panic, gag, paw at their mouth, drool excessively, or even lose consciousness.
Unless you’re trained in the canine Heimlich maneuver or choking first aid, it’s unlikely you will be able to dislodge the cap.
Even if you were able, the bottle cap could have caused injuries to your dog’s throat, or your dog could have inhaled it into their lungs instead, which can lead to further complications.
In either situation, immediate veterinary support is necessary.
They May Manage To Pass It Safely
It’s possible, though not guaranteed, that a dog may pass the bottle cap without incident.
This largely depends on the dog’s size, the size of the bottle cap, and the dog’s overall health.
However, even if your dog seems to be acting normally after ingesting a bottle cap, it is critical to consult with a veterinarian.
They Pass It, But It Causes Internal Damage
Bottle caps can cause internal damage even if passed naturally.
The bottle cap, being a hard and sharp object (particularly if chewed up) could scratch or puncture the esophagus, stomach, or intestines as it moves through the digestive tract.
This can lead to internal bleeding, infections, or peritonitis – an inflammation of the abdomen’s lining.
Even minor scratches can cause discomfort or pain, and in some cases, these internal injuries can develop into more serious conditions if left untreated.
Cause An Obstruction
When a dog ingests a bottle cap, the object can become lodged in the digestive tract, creating what is known as an obstruction.
The lodged cap can cause physical damage to the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, leading to inflammation, bleeding, or even a perforation – a hole in the stomach or intestines.
Perforations can allow bacteria and digestive fluids to leak into the abdomen, causing a severe and life-threatening infection known as peritonitis.
Equally, the blockage could prevent the normal passage of food and fluids, which can lead to a variety of other severe complications.
Furthermore, an obstruction can also disrupt blood flow to the affected area, which could lead to necrosis or death of the tissue.
If left untreated, an obstruction can be fatal.
This condition often causes noticeable symptoms like vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and abdominal pain.
However, these signs may not appear immediately after ingestion, which is why it’s crucial to seek veterinary care as soon as possible if you know or suspect your dog has swallowed a bottle cap.
Obstructions are more likely if your dog is smaller or the bottle cap is on the larger side.
Can a Dog Pass a Bottle Cap?
A dog may be able to pass a bottle cap, though it is unlikely. This is not a situation where owners should sit back and hope for the best.
If you suspect or know your dog has swallowed a bottle cap, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention.
This is a potentially dangerous situation that could require immediate intervention.
What To Do If Your Dog Has Eaten A Bottle Cap
It’s time to act quickly and effectively.
Firstly, don’t attempt to induce vomiting unless explicitly instructed to do so by a veterinarian.
This could cause further damage.
Monitor your dog for signs of discomfort, including whining, pacing, drooling, loss of appetite, vomiting, or changes in bowel movements.
Any of these could suggest a possible blockage.
Immediately contact your vet or an emergency vet clinic.
If you did decide to monitor your dog (not advised), check their poop each time they go for the bottle cap.
If they begin to vomit, stop eating, develop diarrhea, or become very lethargic, then you will need to take her to your vet right away as these are clear signs of obstruction.
What Your Vet May Do If Your Dog Has Eaten A Bottle Cap
Once you’ve sought veterinary assistance, the vet will likely take a series of actions to ensure your dog’s safety.
Likely in the following order.
Thorough, Physical Exam
Before any intervention, your veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical exam to assess your dog’s overall condition and to help identify any immediate issues caused by the ingestion of the bottle cap.
This usually includes checking your dog’s heart rate, breathing, temperature, and hydration status, as well as palpating the abdomen to detect any signs of pain or discomfort.
In addition to the physical examination, the vet will likely order diagnostic tests to locate the bottle cap and determine its exact size and position.
This can include X-rays or ultrasound.
An X-ray is particularly useful in the case of a bottle cap, as it’s metallic and will easily show up.
An ultrasound, on the other hand, can provide more detailed information about the condition of the surrounding tissues and help detect any possible damage or inflammation.
A complete blood count (CBC) and a chemistry panel might also be performed to assess your dog’s overall health and to determine whether there’s an infection, inflammation, or organ dysfunction, all of which could influence the chosen treatment approach.
Inducing vomiting is sometimes an option, but only if the vet deems it safe.
This method is only feasible if the dog has swallowed the bottle cap recently, and there’s no risk of further harm (like esophageal injury) by bringing the cap back up.
In many cases, if the bottle cap has been ingested recently and hasn’t passed into the intestines, the vet may perform an endoscopy.
This procedure involves inserting a flexible tube with a camera down the dog’s throat to locate and remove the bottle cap.
In more severe cases, where the cap is causing a blockage or has the potential to, the vet may resort to surgery.
This is generally seen as a last resort, used only when the other options are deemed unsuitable or unsuccessful.
During the surgery, which is usually an exploratory laparotomy, the veterinarian will make an incision into the dog’s abdomen to locate the obstruction.
Once found, the bottle cap is carefully removed either by creating an incision in the stomach or intestine, or in some cases, by manipulating it back into the stomach where it can be taken out more safely.
The vet will also check the rest of the gastrointestinal tract for any signs of damage or additional obstructions.
While this is a common and relatively safe procedure, it still carries the risks associated with any major surgery, including reactions to anesthesia, infection, and postoperative complications.
Recovery from such a surgery usually requires hospitalization for a few days, followed by several weeks of rest and careful monitoring at home.
Immediate action is now necessary.
You need to contact a vet, if you haven’t already.
The faster you do so, the quicker they can be seen, and the less likely more advanced treatment is required.
And the greater the chances the cap can be retrieved before it ends up in places that can be really dangerous.
Never gamble with your dog’s health by taking a wait-and-see approach or attempting to induce vomiting yourself.
While it’s true that a dog may be able to pass a foreign object naturally; this doesn’t guarantee safety.
Consider that a bottle cap presents a myriad of potential complications – even if you cannot outwardly see them, or even if they symptoms do not develop immediately.
Trust me, you wouldn’t forgive yourself.
You now know what you need to do.
Over to you.
All the best.
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.