Consumer World — 16 January 2012

A teacup pig named Crispy Bacon survived a potentially fatal dose of human heart medication. Photo by Teresa Praus

A pet pig named “Crispy Bacon” taught his owner a lesson that many parents already know: prescription drugs should be kept locked up and out of sight.

Teresa Praus of Las Vegas, Nevada recently came home to find a partially chewed and empty bottle of human heart medication. Her pet teacup pig had eaten all the pills and was vomiting. Teresa and her husband rushed Crispy Bacon to a veterinary hospital, where after a few days the pig recovered from a potentially fatal dose of beta blockers.

Crispy Bacon may be a pig, but like many pets he has an insatiable curiosity and isn’t discriminating about what he eats. Praus says he’s even crafty enough to bump into shelves and tables to knock down items to get them within reach.

“He likes to chew, just like a puppy,” said Praus. “Especially the plastic ends of shoelaces.”

Crispy’s brush with death highlights a problem that Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) knows all too well. Pets will eat almost anything. The nation’s oldest and largest provider of pet health insurance received over 6,000 claims last year for pets that swallowed foreign objects.

A pug named Harley won VPI’s 2011 Hambone award for swallowing over 100 rocks.

A pug named Harley won VPI’s 2011 Hambone award for swallowing over 100 rocks. Photo courtesy of VPI.

Other odd items swallowed by pets include batteries, candles, a dirty diaper, hot chili peppers, deer antlers and a dead porcupine. One pet got a buzz from eating marijuana cookies, while another ate an entire box of razor blades.

All of the pets made full recoveries and their owners were reimbursed for eligible veterinary expenses by VPI. Saving a pet from a potentially deadly case of indigestion doesn’t come cheaply. The average cost of surgery to remove a foreign object can be about $2,000. VPI paid over $5 million in claims last year for pets eating things they weren’t supposed to.

VPI recommends keeping small items that can be eaten by pets out of reach. Owners should also be careful about the toys they select for their pets. Possible signs that a pet ate a foreign object include depression, a reluctance to eat or drink, vomiting and diarrhea. If you suspect foreign object ingestion, your pet should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

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Eric Norwood

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