Your Dog Eats a Dead Animal – Now What?

It does sometimes happen in these wild woods of ours in NYC.  This past Sunday morning, for example, Winnie the 45-lb standard poodle dug up a dead bird from ankle-deep leaves in the North Woods of Central Park, tormented his mom by parading it around in his mouth, and then ate it.  Too early for most vet offices to be open.  Hmmm. What to do?

Based on Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook (see below), my suggestion was to induce vomiting as soon as possible and then give the dog activated charcoal.  If vomiting happens within an hour of ingestion, there’s every likelihood the dead bird will emerge in one piece.  The charcoal serves to block absorption of toxic elements.  I am no vet, but this still seems to me the best approach for the situation.

To induce vomiting, give:

  1. Syrup of ipecac (one teaspoonful per ten pounds of body weight);
  2. hydrogen peroxide 3% (one to three teaspoonsful every ten minutes; repeat three times;
  3. one half to one teaspoonful of salt, placed at the back of the tongue.*

*  From Dog Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook by Delbert G. Carlson, D.V.M. and James M. Giffin, M.D., 1992 (p 24)

The vets, when reached, had a more cautious approach.  They recommended stomach x-rays, liquid charcoal and, possibly, intravenous hydration.  Their concern was that bird bones in the stomach might perforate the dog’s esophagus if vomiting were induced.  They were more inclined to let the carrion work it’s way out of the system naturally.  If the x-rays revealed dangerous bones, they said they would need to extricate those surgically.

The vets were not too worried about toxicity.  They said if the decay were really toxic, the dog would throw up spontaneously and, otherwise, the ingested animal would pass through the system and they could clean up afterwards with antibiotics.

As I said above, I am no vet.  I would love to receive vet comments to this post.  I guess it’s time to let people know we have a blog! – haven’t sent out notices yet.

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