My Dog Ate a Sock and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Socks aren’t toxic, but they can cause serious trouble for your dog.
  • If your dog eats a sock, you should call your veterinarian and follow his directions.
  • The greatest risk your dog faces when he eats a sock is intestinal obstruction, which is an emergency.

You walk into the room and notice your pooch playing with a sock that he found on the kid’s bedroom floor. Although he seems to be having lots of fun, you wonder if you should be concerned. If he swallows all or part of it, the answer is yes.

Some playful pooches are notorious sock thieves. Unfortunately, sometimes they go beyond snatching them and running around to swallow the clothing item. The problem with this is that the socks can get stuck in the digestive tract and can cause trouble for your pup. 

If your furbaby gulps down a sock, call your veterinarian. The woven material isn’t digestible, so it can easily create a blockage.

In this article, we’ll talk about why docks can be dangerous to dogs, what you should do about it, and when you need to take your pooch to the vet. Let’s get started.

Are socks dangerous to dogs?

The problem with socks is that dogs can’t digest the material. So, if your pooch swallows one, it can cause him serious trouble. Under the best circumstances, the sock will slip through the gastrointestinal tract and out of the rectum. 

Unfortunately, there are several places in the gut where socks can get stuck and cause a blockage. All it takes is one piece of clothing to obstruct the passageway. Even if your dog gnaws off a hunk of a sock, it may be enough to clog the intestines.

If your furbaby swallows a sock, contact your veterinarian and let him know what happened.

Dogs can’t digest socks, so if they eat part or all of a sock, it can be very dangerous. The clothing material can block the stomach or intestines. 

What should I do if my dog ate a sock?

If your dog ate a sock, 

  1. Prevent your dog from ingesting another piece of clothing.
  2. Assess the situation to determine when he ingested the sock and how large the piece was.
  3. Call your veterinarian to report the incident, and follow his advice.
  4. Monitor your pup for signs of trouble.

The doctor may advise you to induce vomiting if your dog ate the sock in the past two hours. Do not attempt to make your dog vomit without your veterinarian’s recommendation and instructions. If your dog ate the sock more than a few hours ago, vomiting is not likely to be helpful.

If your dog ate a sock, keep him from eating anything else and assess the situation then call your veterinarian. You can try to induce vomiting if your dog ate the sock less than two hours earlier and the doctor advises it. Follow his directions and monitor your furbaby for signs of trouble.

When should I take my dog to the vet after he eats a sock?

If your pooch continues to eat and drink normally, there’s a good chance the sock is moving through the digestive system. Continue to monitor him for signs of obstruction. 

You should bring your dog to the vet if you observe symptoms of obstruction like:

  • Your dog is a puppy or small breed dog and he ate a large sock
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Panting 
  • Drooling
  • Lethargy
  • Not eating

These signs can mean your pooch has a condition that requires emergency care. Your veterinarian will be able to examine your pooch and run diagnostic tests to determine whether a sock is obstructing the gastrointestinal tract.

If your dog continues to act normally, you can monitor your pooch. However, if he shows distress, you should take him to the veterinarian. The doctor can examine him and run diagnostics to identify the problem.

What if my dog eats a lot of socks but seems fine?

You may not immediately notice signs of distress if your dog eats a large sock or a pile of clothing. It may take several hours for symptoms to surface after Fido ingests a sock. Even if your dog appears normal, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible and follow his instructions. 

Your dog has a better chance of a full recovery if you act quickly. The doctor will examine your dog and use diagnostic tests to confirm and locate the ingested material. Once he identifies the amount of material that your dog swallowed, he can take appropriate action.

It can take several hours to see signs of obstruction after your dog eats a sock, but don’t wait. Contact your veterinarian. Rapid action can improve your dog’s chances of recovery.

Signs of trouble after my dog eats a sock

The first thing you may notice after your dog eats a sock is signs of digestive upset. Even if the material eventually slips through the system, the fibers may rub against the stomach lining. When this happens, your dog may vomit, retch, and drool. 

If the sock gets stuck and causes an obstruction, you may also observe:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Hunched appearance
  • Restlessness/reluctance to lie down
  • Early diarrhea followed by constipation and straining to defecate later on
  • Flatulence
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression.

At first, you may notice mild digestive upset including retching and vomiting. If the sock obstructs the gut, the symptoms will be more severe and include abdominal pain, restlessness, and depression.

What happens to dogs that eat a sock?

Because dogs can’t digest socks, the material can remain in the stomach and rub against the lining causing irritation. As a result, your pooch may feel nausea, stop eating,  and retch or vomit. Sometimes, he can regurgitate the clothing article. 

If the sock progresses from the stomach to the intestines, it can irritate the lower gastrointestinal tract and cause diarrhea. Unfortunately, the small intestines provide a narrow passageway, and socks easily lodge along the way causing a blockage. When this happens, the materials press against the gut wall which leads to tissue damage and cell death. In the process, the cells release toxins into the bloodstream and food cannot pass through the system. Blockages are an emergency situation.

Dogs can’t digest socks, so the materials can irritate the stomach or intestinal lining and cause gastric upset. Socks may also lodge in the narrow passageway of the small intestine causing an emergency situation.

Why are socks dangerous to dogs?

Socks are dangerous to your dog because the materials aren’t digestible. Therefore, they gather in the stomach and irritate the system. Usually, socks are bulky and can easily get stuck in the intestines creating an obstruction. Blockage damages the surrounding tissues and can cause cellular death and toxic by-products. Without intervention, dogs can die.

Dogs can’t digest socks, so the material can irritate the gue or cause a blockage. Obstructions lead to tissue damage and toxic conditions that are deadly. 

How will my vet treat my dog if he eats a sock?

When you take your dog to the vet for treatment, he’ll take a history and examine your pooch. Be prepared to share the size of the sock your dog ate, when it happened, and how much you think he ingested. 

Physical Exam

Depending on how long ago your dog ate the sock, your vet may 

  • Perform a rectal exam if ingestion was a day or more before the exam
  • Palpate your dog’s abdomen to feel for obstructions
  • Take an X-ray or ultrasound 
  • Perform endoscopy if the sock is in the stomach
  • Run blood work 

If your dog ate the sock in the past two hours, your veterinarian may induce vomiting to try to bring the item back up. When X-rays or an ultrasound reveal a sock in the stomach, your vet may be able to remove it with an endoscope.

Pooches with an intestinal obstruction require surgery. In addition to removing the sock, your vet will provide:

  • fluid therapy 
  • anti-inflammatory medicines
  • painkillers

The doctor will take a history, examine your dog, and run diagnostic tests to locate the sock. If ingestion was recent, he may induce vomiting. Endoscopic removal of the sock may work if it’s in the stomach. When socks cause obstruction, surgery is usually required.

How long is the recovery?

Recovery varies depending on how the sock affects your dog. When dogs eat a sock, it may pass through the gastrointestinal system in 2-3 days. You should monitor your pup’s poop. 

When your veterinarian uses endoscopy to locate and remove the sock, recovery takes about 1 day. If the sock lodges in the intestines, the recovery is longer. For routine surgeries, dogs usually recover in a few weeks. You should closely monitor your pooch and keep the surgical site clean and dry during the recovery period. 

The length of the recovery period varies depending on how the sock affects your pooch. It may pass through the system in 2-3 days. Otherwise, recovery can be short in the event of endoscopy or take a few weeks when surgery is needed.

The Final Woof

Socks are not toxic, but they can be dangerous to your dog. If your furbaby ingests a sock, take action to prevent him from eating more and contact your veterinarian. He may recommend you induce vomiting or observe your pup for signs of trouble. Always follow your doctor’s directions. Any time your pooch shows signs of digestive distress such as vomiting, abdominal pain, and a loss of appetite. 

When dogs eat a sock, it may pass through the system, but it usually remains in the stomach or lodges in the intestine. The materials aren’t digestible, so they can irritate the gut lining causing gastric upset or block the intestines. If you take your dog to the vet, he will examine your pooch and determine the appropriate treatment. Recovery varies depending on the location of the sock and the treatment regimen.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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