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Thanks for asking this interesting question about “The Cotton Ball Remedy.”
This is not something that I routinely recommend, though I *do* know veterinarians that I work with who do.
I have had owners phone to report fish hooks, earrings and needles being passed embedded in the cotton balls, so it seems to work quite well for small objects.
However, I also know one case where a woman thought the dog ate a needle and went ahead and gave 10 cotton balls soaked in olive oil to the dog. The dog was seen 2 days later and went to surgery to remove the cotton balls which had wadded together in the stomach and would not pass! There was no sign of the needle.
Thus, because of the concern that the cotton balls themselves might not pass, I don’t generally recommend this.
Also, it is worth mentioning that I would definitely NOT make a dog who ate a bone shard vomit due to concerns about a sharp sliver perforating the esophagus. The esophagus is much more fragile than the intestines, and I would be far more worried about it lacerating the esophagus if it came up than I would be about damage to the intestines with it going down.
I always suggest feeding the dog something to make a "pillow" around the bone. Suggestions would be 3 or 4 slices of high fibre bread, or 1 cup canned pumpkin (plain pumpkin, not pie filling), or 1-2 cups brown rice. Metamucil would be another good option.
The goal is to make a cushion around the bone so that it doesn't scrape the intestines as it goes through.
It may well come through without any problems whatsoever - it's amazing what I have seen come out of dogs! However, it is worthwhile for you to know what signs to look for in case it gets stuck:
- loss of appetite, vomiting, abdominal pain (a hunched appearance, or prayer position with her front end down and back end up in the air), fever and lethargy would all be cause for concern
Here's a link with more information:
Most things make their way through the intestines in about 24 hours. Do check all her stools until you see it! If it has not appeared within 3 days, or if she shows any signs of illness, then see your veterinarian promptly.
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The above is given for information only. Although I am a licensed veterinarian, I cannot legally prescribe medicines or diagnose your pet's condition without performing a physical exam. If you have concerns about your pet I would strongly advise contacting your regular veterinarian.