Dogs eat fish-hooks.

Actually, dogs will eat practically anything (some dogs, anyway).  I remember giving post-op instructions for a pup after having removed plastic flowers, buttons, pieces of cloth and some other un-identifiable junk from his stomach.  "He'll need to eat a bland diet for a few days after his stomach surgery."  "Gee, I don't know about that, Doc.  He's kind of a finicky eater."  Ummm…yeah.

Abbey post-op (2) This guy looks a bit forlorn because he's still in post-op recovery mode.  His owners were pretty sure he ate a fish-hook last night.  You know, usually the hook gets caught on their lip.  I couldn't tell you how many of those I've removed.  You don't want to pull the barb backwards and rip things. Theoretically you just cut off the eye from the hook and shove it on through.  That shoving it thing is the weak point in the plan.  Unless you and the dog are both pretty stoic, one of you (maybe both) is going to flinch or scream or bite.  A lot of dogs are going to need some heavy sedation, particularly since you're working in their mouth.  I recall a dog who had grabbed a lure with treble hooks on each end.  His left foot, upper lip, lower lip and tongue were all impaled…and there were two more hooks open, just waiting for a stray finger.

Xray hook (2) Surely this dog didn't actually eat the fish-hook and swallow it all the day down.  He doesn't seem to feel bad.  He's eaten since then and kept it down okay.  Wouldn't you be having a cramp?  Or something?  Of course, if he did, we need to know how far it traveled.  Hence, the whole-body X-ray here.  And, of course, he did eat it and swallow it down.  There it sits in his little stomach.

Hook (2) What you can't see in the X-ray (besides the fact that the hook is turned sideways so it looks funny), is that the owner was pretty sure there was quite a bit of line attached.  "How much?"  His four-years-old grandson replied, "Enough to reach down to the water and catch fish."  That much, huh?  That makes it more complicated, as the line can do damage all by itself, and make removal complicated.  Not to mention that finding these things, as plain as they look on the radiograph, can be like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack.

Fish hook & stuff (2) As luck would have it, though, I found the hook almost immediately and was able to remove it through a very small incision in the stomach wall.  I thought at first that the red stuff tangled in the line was some sort of elaborate lure.  Closer examination reveals that it is simply what we, in these parts, refer to as a baloney string.  Personally, if I were going to eat bologna (I'm not), I think I'd remove the plastic casing first.  But then, I'm not going to eat a fish-hook either.

So, what kind of bait do you use when you're casting for Chihuahuas?

32 thoughts on “Dogs eat fish-hooks.

  1. Doc says:

    Hello, Stef,

    Things really went great. I was in and out in less than 30 minutes. I don’t remember exactly how long it took, but it wasn’t long. So many times you see this metallic object on an X-ray and think, “All right, I’ll just go right to that baby.” Very frustrating when you have to puddle out all the guts to find it.

    Thanks for reading and writing.

  2. J Sharp says:

    Our dog ate a fish hook this weekend, a circle hook. And since our funds are very tight right now we cant really afford to take him into the vet, any chance he will just pass it? We have been checking his stool and have not seen it come through yet, (he ate it two days ago) and there has been no blood in his stool. He seems to be acting completely normal, any advice?

    • Tony Kings says:

      Hello J Sharp, i know your post is from a while back, just wondering if your sag ever passed the hook. Do you mind giving us an update?

  3. Doc says:

    Hello, J.Sharp,

    Canned pumpkin-pie filling is a high-fiber and safe substance that may help take it on through. Feeding it several times daily (maybe half as much volume as you would feed dog food) is safe, and may help pick the hook up and shepherd it through.

    The intestine tends to recoil from sharp things, and I have seen these pass all the way through. I have also seen a hook pass all the way to the anus and get hung with the eye and line hanging out, but the barb embedded in the anal sphincter.

    Having said that, the only way to know what’s going on here is to get the dog X-rayed. If that thing is hung somewhere, it can perforate the GI tract and cause as much damage as a ruptured appendix in a person, i.e. death.

    I’d have a hard time sleeping without knowing where that sucker is.

    Good luck.

  4. Term Papers says:

    I recall a dog who had grabbed a lure with treble hooks on each end. His left foot, upper lip, lower lip and tongue were all impaled…and there were two more hooks open, just waiting for a stray finger.

  5. scott brock says:

    unfortunately on I’m here looking at posts because my I believe my dog ate 1-2 small hooks. these were small trout flies with natural hair to immitate a real insect. I guess my fly tying ability is better than I thought. Any chance acids in the stomach will desolve these things?

  6. Doc says:

    Hello, Scott,

    No, the stomach acid won’t dissolve them. Feeding tiny cotton balls soaked in cooking oil to catch and slide them through will often work. You can also feed pumpkin pie filling, which has a lot of fiber and can help stuff move through. Fortunately, the gut usually recoils from sharp objects, so they may just move on through. Talk to your veterinarian.

    Good Luck.

  7. Terri and Brad says:

    Our Aussie swallowed a #6 treble hook around 48hrs ago.
    We took him to a vet that wants $4-$6k for the operation. Needless to say, we can’t afford that. I’m looking at the exrays and it’s in his intestine.
    We have him on high fiber phys. formula.
    He’s not stressing (we are!), not in pain, eating fine and pooping fine. In tonights stool, there was a tiny bit of red.
    IF it passes, how long should it take?
    He’s 11 years old and weighs 75 lbs.
    Is there anything else we can do?
    Thanx for any help you can give.

  8. Doc says:

    Hello Terri and Brad,

    I really can’t advise you very well from a long distance. Here are some general comments on the situation, but I can’t prescribe for patients I haven’t seen.

    This is a pretty tricky situation. The treble hook is designed to get caught in things (like fishes), after all.

    The intestine tends to recoil from sharp points, and I have seen a fish-hook pass all the way through, then get impaled in the anus right at the very end.

    A lot of folks recommend feeding canned pumpkin to move sharp things through. It’s got a lot of fiber that helps pick things up and coat them.

    People have also used cotton balls soaked in soft dog-food in hopes that the cotton will cover the barbs of the hook. You could possibly develop an impaction from the cotton balls, but that usually doesn’t happen.

    If you don’t retrieve the hook surgically, you should at least monitor its progress. If it perforates the intestine, it will be like a ruptured appendix. Then you’ve got the same surgery to remove it, plus dealing with the peritonitis from yucky intestine stuff getting into the abdominal cavity. That’s worse.

    I’d be really concerned about the hook perforating the bowel if you don’t have it removed.

    This is a toughie. Good luck.

  9. Terri and Brad says:

    Thanx Doc!
    I’m happy to say that he just passed the hook! It was wrapped up in the cottonballs (and peanutbutter) I gave him about an hr after it happened!
    Thanx so much for your help. I’ll take a stool sample into his vet so she can check for blood, etc.
    Thanx again!!!

  10. Greg Rinaldi says:

    My 65lb wirehair ate a 0/2 large hook. Took him to the vet. Vet broke-up 1/2 dozen sugar do-nuts, 1 pint of milk and added 6 shredded cotton balls. Hook passed in three days. The cotton worked. All is now well. Vet told me…”knock on wood” that he has seen this alot and that he has not lost a dog that ate a fish hook.
    Hope this helps.
    Dr. Greg

  11. Sean says:

    My 45 pound border collie ate a size 14 trout hook with power bail still on it. About an hour later I feed her 37 oz of canned pumpkin. Will she be able to pass it? Hope so cause funds are very low right now

  12. Shilo says:

    Unfortunately, my Jack Russell ate a barbed fishing hook this last weekend. It wasnt an issue about money, as my pet is my family and my kid but I wanted to do what was best for her. I didn’t want to rush her to the vet, for xrays and surgery if it wasn’t necessary.

    I fed her lots of food to try and keep the hook surounded and also mineral oil to lubricate everything to try and prevent hooking. After about 15 hours, the hook passed.

    I am so thankful and lesson learned. Very scary 15 hours. I know I had a lot of luck on my side but just posting to try and help someone else in my situation.

  13. bill says:

    Ty for the advice. I gave my dog pumpkin pie filler and 6 cotton balls. He pooped out the hook and line 24 hours later. My question is: How long after he poops the fishing hook out do I need to be worried about internal damage?

  14. Doc says:

    Hello, Bill,

    If he is acting okay 3 days later, you are almost sure to be “out of the woods”. Probably okay at 24 hours, really.

  15. Courtney says:

    My father-in-laws blue healer, 7 y.o, swallowed a fish hook, not sure what size. To be honest my father-in-law is a complete moron and was convinced that he was going to be just fine. So he took no action to try to help the dog pass the hook. Well a few days down the road, the dog got extremely sick and he finally decided to take him to the vet. He is currently in surgery right at this moment, and from what we know the reason Diesel got so sick was because the fish hook had already rusted. He has been in surgery for quite some time now and I was just curious if the dog will make it. (bless his little heart)

  16. Doc says:

    Hello, Courtney,

    Since I haven’t seen the case, I cannot really give you good information. I don’t really think that a rusty hook is that much worse that a new one. The barb getting lodged in the gut is the problem. Hooks with line attached are even worse, as the intestine can bunch up on the line (like the waistband of a pair of sweat pants), sawing holes in the intestine.

    Best wishes. Your surgeon will give you better information than I can.

  17. Bryse kiernan says:

    Hello everyone !
    So my son was setting up his fishing hooks and our beloved lab ate two baited hooks and while we wrestled him to get them out he swallowed them. I am a single mom and we just get by month to month and I could not afford the vet. We love our dog with all our hearts and we looked up home help ideas .
    I am writing this in hopes it will help someone else. We broke apart 20 plus cotton balls , dipped them in oil and them dog food (wet gravy can food) and fed it to our dog . Then we fed him a can of punkin pie filling . It took two days of all night worry and checking his stool but second day, we found the hooks safely tucked away in the cotton balls in his stool. They made it through and we are so grateful . Hope this helps anyone unfortunate enough to experience what we just did . Warm regards 🙂

  18. Tosha Bouser says:

    Our 11 year dog swallowed a fish hook. The vet said it is stuck in her throat and needs surgery to remove it. We don’t have over $3000 for the bill. Any suggestions? She coughs alot and sometimes coughs food back up.

  19. Doc says:

    Hello, Tosha,

    If the X-ray shows the hook stuck in her neck, I cannot imagine any remedy other than surgery. If it is in the middle of her chest, then that is a very complicated surgery. I am sorry that I have no suggestions for you.

  20. Carol Smart says:

    Hi our dog has swallowed a fish hook, a vet has done an endoscopy to try to get it out, she said it would have to be an operation is this the case it is very deeply stuck in her throat

  21. Doc says:

    Hello, Carol,
    I wish I had some magic suggestion for you, but the doctor seeing your dog is the person best equipped to advise you.

    Best wishes.

  22. Dafydd Gould says:

    Hi, interesting post, my 4month springer decided to eat a size 14 or 16 barbless hook yesterday with a very small bit of line, we tried to unhook but it was already post the back of the mouth, we are now deciding on best action to take, he is ok in him self, not seen anything in his stool at the mo, cos it’s barbless is there anything we can do

  23. Doc says:

    With no barb and very short line, it will probably pass.

    Fish-hooks show up great on x-rays, so it would be easy to see if he’s passing it through.

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