Buttons are famously dangerous items for dogs and puppies. Their ability to cause problems ranks up there with peach pits, socks, corn cobs, hair ties and rocks. It’s rare but not unheard of for dogs to aspirate buttons into their wind pipes and suffocate (or choke). It is common, however, for dogs to suffer gastrointestinal obstruction after eating buttons (or peach pits, socks, corn cobs, hair ties or rocks).
When a dog swallows a button he may get lucky and vomit it up spontaneously. Or he may get lucky and pass it through his system and into his feces. Or the button may get lodged in his stomach or intestines. Dogs in this last category often will die without endoscopy or surgery to remove the button.
Your puppy clearly will be better off if he does not chew on buttons. There are a few tactics for preventing this behavior. Only one of the tactics is sure to work.
First, remember that puppies are more likely than adult dogs to chew buttons. Your dog may outgrow the behavior. (Or he may not — sadly, some puppies don’t.)
Also keep in mind that puppies and dogs have a legitimate need to chew. Be sure to provide plenty of safe and appropriate chew toys for your little guy. If you catch him chewing a button (or a pair of shoes, or an iPhone) give him a gentle correction and immediately offer an appropriate chew toy. Let him know you’re happy whenever you see him chewing on an appropriate toy.
Above all, remember that there is only one guaranteed way to protect your puppy from suffering a button-based intestinal obstruction: do not allow access to clothing with buttons. Hang your clothes up and keep the closet door closed. Don’t leave laundry out or on the floor. Keep track of your puppy’s whereabouts at all times, and keep him confined in a safe area that is free of clothing and buttons when you aren’t with him.
The safe area also should be free of peach pits, corn cobs, hair ties, rocks, shoes, electric cords and iPhones.
Photo: Marco Bernardini