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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Foreign object in mouth View In Dogs

First Aid Condition

First aid health condition




Condition Overview

Foreign objects in the mouth include bone splinters, slivers of wood, sewing needles and pins, porcupine quills, fish hooks, and plant awns. Sharp objects can penetrate the lips, gums, and tongue. Other objects can get caught between the teeth or wedged across the roof of the mouth.


A pet with something caught in his mouth acts frantic. he will shake his head, paw at his mouth, drool, cry, and race around. When the object cuts tissue, the saliva may be blood-tinged. Sometimes the pet may further injure himself by biting his tongue while trying to get rid of the object. Sometimes though, the only signs will be a reluctance to eat and bad breath.

A common place for a penetrating foreign object is beneath the tongue. On lifting the tongue, you may see a grape-like swelling or a drainage tract. This means the foreign body has been present for a long time.


Dogs often get objects stuck in their mouths because they love to chew and play with anything they can pick up. Cats are less likely to have these problems, but like dogs, the can get parts of toys stuck in their teeth, string wrapped around the base of their tongues, or grass seeds that penetrate the tongues and gums.


Diagnosis is made by physical examination of the mouth.


Some pets will need to be sedated before the object can be removed. Obtain a good source of light and gently examine your dog's mouth. A good look may reveal the cause. It is possible to directly remove foreign bodies. Others will require a general anesthetic - which requires a trip to the vet.

A threaded needle should not be pulled out, because it can be used to locate the needle. After the removal of objects that have caused an infection, the dog is placed on an antibiotic for 1 week.

1. Restrain your pet.

2. Open his mouth.

3. Look for the object.

Fish hook: To remove a fish hook from the lip, if the barb is visible, cut the shank next to the barb with wire cutters and remove the hook in 2 pieces. if the barb is embedded in the lip, determine which direction the barb is positioned and push the hook through until the barb is free. DO NOT try to pull the barbed end back out through the tissue! Next cut the hook and remove it.

Do not attempt to remove a fish hook embedded in the mouth or one that has been swallowed with the line attached. take your dog to the vet at once.

Porcupine Quills: Porcupine quills can penetrate the face, nose, lips, oral cavity, feet, and skin of the dog. Always check carefully between the toes, as dogs may get quills stuck there from their face as they paw at them. The decision to remove quills at home is based on the number of quills, their location, how deeply they are embedded, and whether professional help is readily available. Quills inside the mouth are difficult to remove without anesthesia. To remove quills at home:

1. Restrain the dog.

2. Use a surgical hemostat or needle-nosed pliers to grasp each quill near the dogs skin and draw it straight out on the long axis of the quill. If the quill breaks off, a fragment will be left behind, causing a deep seated infection that requires prompt veterinary treatment.

After removing quills, observe your dog for about 1 week, looking for signs of infection, abscess, or deeply embedded quills working their way out.

Dogs with many quills will need anesthesia to be sure all the quills are removed. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics for a large number of quills. Broken off quill fragments can migrate in the tissues and cause serious, deep seated infections.

String around the tongue: Swelling and bluish discoloration of the tongue may be caused by a rubber band or a string around the base. Occasionally a dog swallows one end of a string and the other end loops around the tongue. The harder the dog swallows, the more the string cuts into the tongue. Depending on how tightly the tongue is constricted, the venous and/or arterial blood supply may be cut off, resulting in irreversible tissue damage.

Signs of tongue strangulation are similar to those of a foreign object in the mouth. It is easy to overlook a constriction because the band cuts into the tissue.

1. A close inspection may be necessary to find the string and divide it

2. Cut it off using blunt nosed baby scissors. if the dog is struggling, take her to the vet right away to have this done.


Other than keeping a close eye on your pets chewing habits, there is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian if you feel the situation is beyond your medical capabilities.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

The First Aid Companion for Dogs And Cats

Publisher: Rodale Inc, 2001

Website: http://www.rodalebooks.com/

Authors: Amy D. Shojai, Shane Bateman DVM

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