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My Dog, My Pin-Cushion and My Visit to the Emergency Vet

I put off writing this article for a long because I feared that people would judge me as a bad pet parent. I finally decided to write it when I heard countless other “my dog ate” stories and came to terms with the fact that accidents do happen.

“You think your dog ate what?” Those are the words I heard from my vet over the phone when I was trying to explain I thought my shepherd mix Gatsby may have eaten some pins from a pin cushion.

Let’s back up to the beginning. I got home from work around 6 and started on dinner. Something shiny on the kitchen floor caught my eye. It was a pin. I didn’t think much of it at first, thinking it may have fallen off of some clothing I had recently purchased. Fast forward a few hours. We were returning from our evening walk when I spotted a toy I didn’t recognize in Gatsby’s crate. I picked it up and my heart stopped. It was the pin cushion from the sewing box.

To be honest, my first reaction was “There’s no way he ate any, they appear to all still be on the cushion.” Despite my denial I checked his mouth and peered down hisGatsby’s pre-surgery x-ray throat. No blood, no needles, nothing abnormal. He was also acting normally. I suddenly remembered the pin in the kitchen and started searching for more pins. Immediately I knew that there was going to be a problem. I was finding pins left and right. Some were broken and some were bent. Even thought my denial still persisted (who eats pins, right?) I called my vet. She instructed me to go to the emergency pet hospital for x-rays.

At this point I was still calm, steadfastly denying to myself that either of the dogs had actually eaten any of the pins, but better safe than sorry. They took the dogs back for x-rays and then the vet came to speak with me. She gave me the good news first: Barret was free and clear, no pins in his belly. On the other hand, Gatsby had eaten enough pins for the both of them. From there almost everything else is a blur. The x-ray image was frightening. A cluster of what I later learned to be 11 pins were sitting in his stomach. One had already made its way toward the intestines.

Because of the sheer number of pins he had ingested surgery was his best option. If we took the “wait and see what passes” approach the damage could have been irreversible. I was told when a dog has ingests pins, and it is less than 3, they will generally pass without an issue with monitoring. I was astounded to learn that this wasn’t the first pin-extraction my vet had performed! I would do anything for my “kids” so I signed the papers, sent him into surgery and went home to wait.

Gatbsy’s x-rays post op It was about 2 AM when the vet called to let me know he was out of surgery and waking up. They were only able to find and remove 9 pins despite multiple x-rays taken during surgery.  I was to pick him up from the hospital and take him to my regular vet in the morning. He was released later in the day with strict dietary restrictions, medications, and instructions. I was also charged with the unpleasant task of dissecting any bowel movements to be sure the last 2 pins made it out safely.

The next few days we were still really worried about him. He had no interest in food and wasn’t going to the bathroom. After about a week I finally was able to find a food (scrambled eggs) that he would eat. We breathed a sigh of relief when we found the last pin in his stool a few days later. Despite the fact that he was still vomiting and was losing weight, the vet assured me that he would get back to normal soon, having endured a pretty invasive surgery it would just take time.  After a few vet office visits and several different medications he was on the mend.

Gatsby in a cone The experience has taught me a few lessons, mainly that some dogs really can (and will) eat anything if given the opportunity. I was always very careful about leaving things out or leaving doors open before, but (lesson #2) dogs can be very sneaky. Finally, I learned that both my dogs are integral parts of my life and that when it comes down to the wire I would do anything to make their lives long, healthy, and happy.

So ends my tale of the canine pin cushion. If you have one, please feel free to share your own “my dog ate” story in our comments section.


  1. avatar

    How much did surgery cost?

  2. avatar

    Hi Ashley- After all the follow up vet visits and medications the final cost was about $3500. He’s healthy and happy now, so it was totally worth it!

  3. avatar

    Thanks for the info… My dog just chewed my mothers pin cushion as well. Very upset at the moment

  4. avatar

    I’m sorry about that. Being through it first-hand I know it is not a good place to be. I hope everything works out for you like it did for Gatsby and I. Keep us updated.
    Thanks, Heather

  5. avatar

    I have a service dog.In all aspects of her working dog life she is amazing and I wouldn’t trade her for any other dog But she’s always been a its on the floor I should eat it hound when she’s not working on the rare occasion that she would be alone. All her life. I would call vet and they’d say oh boy what did Nikki eat now. I left her with a friend when I went on a cruise and she ate a 4×4 square out of the carpet in my bedroom. It was awful I was 10 days and the day I came home she started to act sick, in pain and distressed. It was not cheap I worried a ton but she didn’t have to have surgery. Its been a recurring theme in this poor dogs life. On the other hand last spring she started having recurring symptoms of an an obstruction that started with her eating the bristles off an ice scraper. Because I mistakenly left it where she could get at it. She wasn’t bouncing back and the vet talked me into, doing surgery on her when all the usual tests turned up nothing amiss. Turns out my girl who has had stomach issues all her life has severe irritable bowel disease. Treatment for that has pretty much solved not only her stomach issues but also the severe pica she had when left alone for very short periods. $2000 worth of tests and surgery and now a daily meds. But she is a healthy as I have every seen her in her entire life. SO totally worth it even if I have to pay if off a little at time for the rest of my life. Although it should be noted that when left in the back room at the vets in a crate after she was finally on the mend. She smashed and ingested a tiny bit of the ecollar before the could stop her. LOL Gotta love dogs!
    Alone is not her favorite 😀

  6. avatar

    Hi Laura, Thanks for sharing your story. We should write an article on IBS in dogs.. I’ve never had a dog with that issue.

    I do, however, have 2 dogs right now that will eat anything and everything within reach! I can really relate to your story. I dread walking the dogs on windy garbage days, all the trash is usually in their mouths before I even realize there was a piece of trash on the ground! You just never know what they’re going to find!


  7. avatar

    My dog is a long hair mini dachshund and he just are a pin. I had it set aside because I was using it to perforate some paper for a project I’m working on. He found a way up to the table and are the pin and paper towel it was stuck in. I called the vet, they said he would pass it but they won’t help me because I can’t afford to pay for the visit upfront. They said to TRY to make him eat and hope that it coats the pin so it can pass smoothly. Do you think this will work? He’s not even a year old yet and I’m very worried. I have no idea what to do.

  8. avatar

    I’ve been there, not with a pin cushion though. My kitten got tangled in my backpack strap, and began to choke. My boyfriend at the time sprung into action and was quick to cut the strap. It turns out my cat’s collar somehow got snagged/stuck in the plastic buckle, and in a panic the cat looped itself around the entire strap. It was just one of those freak accidents, that you would never expect. I immediately stopped putting collars on my cat, and when I would come home from classes I would “unthread” the backpack straps from the plastic buckle. My methods may have seemed unnecessary to some, but it put me at ease. To this day whenever I hear my cat make a “cough” sound I go into panic mode thinking that she is choking. Funny thing is; it’s a different cat, in a different house, I graduated college 3 years ago, and I’m married now, to a different person :p It’s just instinct. Once you have had an experience, you never forget it.

  9. avatar

    Thank you for this article… My 7.5 Daushound puppy ate a stick pin last night and I instantly panicked!!luckily for me there are many articles on the Internet on what to do. I called her vet first and they said its xray or don’t let her out of my sight! I went for the second option since she was acting fine eating and going potty. I mixed pumpkin bread and corn syrup in her food. Fed her small meals every 2 hours. This morning she passed the pin less than 24 hours . I know we are very lucky she is like a child to me. Also luckily my vet is 24 hours … Scarlet is back to her old self !!

  10. avatar

    My dog ate a pin over night. I am legitimately in a panic! I did bring him to the vet to find that it’s already in the small intestine so he gave me the option of letting it pass or go for surgery. I decided to try and let it pass but contact him if there are complications because I don’t want to put him through a surgery unless absolutely necessary. I’m just praying it comes out!

  11. avatar

    My dog also ate a needle and got a surgery some days ago. The surgery went successfully, but the recovery will take some time. My dog got to wear e-collar too and this makes him feel depressed. After this surgery he also began to suffer from anxiety and his mood changes every minute, sometimes he becomes a big aggressive:( I just hope that this is not a long lasting reaction, and soon he will come back to his normal life and mood.

  12. avatar

    sorry, typing mistake, I mean “a bit aggressive”

  13. avatar

    I have an appointment today to take my English bulldog in for X-rays. He ate my pin cushion that had fallen on the floor without my realizing it. I figured it out when I found a pile of sawdust and pins on the floor. Jeez I’m worried how many pins he ate and the cost for surgery, plus it’s Friday afternoon. Yikes.

  14. avatar

    Came home today to find Earl, 12 pounds of sweet muttness, had chewed up a pin cushion, left on floor by 16-year old daughter. Googled your story and got an emergency appointment with vet.
    Good news, no pins on xray. Phew.
    Dodged the bullet.

  15. avatar
    Max Helena Marino

    I’m so very glad I found your website, and both your story and your followers comments.

    My 5yr old Chocolate Lab., Pippa ate a pin cusion, actually more like inhaled and devoured all of it leaving a scrap of fabric.

    I managed to find 5 pin needles and the sewing needle.

    I’ve been worried sick, she’s not displaying any upset tummy. Or frailty! However I’ve remained awake all night with her, the vet opens 1 hr and 40 mins @ 7:30am.

    I guarantee Pippa and I will be at the door as they’re opening.

    We adopted Pippa 2yrs ago from a miserable existence, and found out 3 days later at her first Vet up that she has severe Kidney disease, she was given 6mths to live. I was devastated, but prepared to give her thee best loving time ever, given her short lifespan. An Angel is on her side, she’s been with us for 2 yrs now.

    Just like 2 yrs ago, my Husband and I are ready to do whatever it takes to get her thru this too. I’m praying they don’t find any pins. But at least minimally 15-20 pins are missing 🙁

    Please wish Pippa well,
    Max Helena Marino x

About hcrotsley

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Currently an owner of 3 dogs and 2 cats, I’ve gained a plethora of pet-related experience over the years. I strive to provide the best home I can for my little terrors, and you’ll read all about our trials and tribulations as I continue down the rewarding yet rocky road of pet parenthood.
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