What’s that you say?

in Contributors/Pets by

By Tracie Korol

When Dave, our 30-pound brown dog, first joined the family we had a period of adjustment. Dave’s previous life was on a chain outside a mobile home in Mt. Gilead, Ohio.   While a very nice dog from the outset, he had no experience with things of the human world, what was off limits and what was not.  My glasses were his target.

On the third return trip to the optician with crunched frames, the technician asked if I knew why Dave was eating my glasses.  Um, sport? No… love.   Apparently, opticians see this all the time:  dog adores his person so much he wants to ingest the face oil smelling frames, the lenses just a bonus crunch.  It’s a compliment, a very expensive compliment. The solution?  Keep the glasses where the dog can’t reach.  I felt just a little stupid at the obvious.

Dogs seem to have the same fascination with hearing aids though I can only imagine, to a dog’s nose, the light coating of ear wax is even more enticing than temple sweat.  But it’s hard to appreciate a dog’s adoration when you have to replace that really, really expensive device.  Another reason for that kind of destruction, according to a local audiologist, is that hearing aids, even when turned off, emit a high-pitched whine, the classic “sound only a dog can hear”.  In that case, I can imagine a dog might smash a hearing aid simply to kill the offending noise or, alternately, make a new friend.

An additional concern beyond the cost and annoyance of replacement is the possibility of a vet bill if your Best Friend ate the battery.  While tiny, those batteries can be dangerous if punctured or crushed by little needle teeth and then swallowed.  (Those tiny batteries are also in singing greeting cards, talking books, flash light pens, key chains, novelty jewelry, digital thermometers, watches and cameras, to name a few.)

If you think your pet could have swallowed the battery a trip to the vet for an x-ray might be in order. It’s possible it could have gotten stuck on something on the way through. Certainly, if you see redness or ulcers in dog’s mouth (lips, tongue), discolored teeth (black or grey), frequent swallowing, drooling or painful or distended abdomen, it’s time to see Dr. WhiteCoat.

From a first aid angle, this is a situation where vomiting should not be induced. This could make any corrosive injury worse.  Activated charcoal should not be used, either. It will not bind the toxic components, and may increase the chances of vomiting.

When a battery is swallowed and is in contact with digestive juices, it generates a small electric current, which burns the tissue next to it.    (An experiment showed that a button battery could burn straight through deli meat after only 2 hours.)  If the battery is intact you might be advised to feed the dog something bulky—white bread, for instance—to cover and push the battery through to the end. Of course, you’ll have to examine the results to make sure the battery made it all the way out.   If the battery is damaged or stuck in a loop of tubing, surgery or removal via endoscope might be in order.

As I learned, the hard and expensive way, to put my glasses beyond Dave’s reach, when you take your hearing aids off, put them high up and in a safe place—a designated box with a grinning dog on it would be a good reminder. Most hearing aids come with comprehensive warranties that cover everything, even damage by pets and loss, so your audiologist probably will just smile and get you a new one.