Pets: Strangest eating habits of your beloved pooch or moggie

They may have the most innocent faces you've ever seen, but turn your back for just a second and that's when all the trouble happens. Pet owners will be the first to tell you that their pets often eat a whole lot of things they shouldn't, so we found out more.

"I've x-rayed a dog that ate a door knob," Mulberry Lane Vet Hospital veterinarian Judith Carney said.

This vet admits she has seen many weird and wonderful things eaten by animals during her 30 years in the industry.

"Corn cobs are very common and it's just the right size to block the intestine," Dr Carney said.

"We once fished out an ear plug that was stuck in the gut of a little kitten.

"Underwear and socks are very common."

Blake the cat once ate a spool of thread and then needed a laparotomy and bowel resection which cost $2000. Photo: KERRYL TOBIN

Blake the cat once ate a spool of thread and then needed a laparotomy and bowel resection which cost $2000. Photo: KERRYL TOBIN

Earlier this year Dr Carney treated a Labrador for four days straight after it escaped its backyard and ate poison in a nearby property.

"It went and dug its way out of the yard and ate a packet of snail bait and it nearly killed her. It causes seizures," she said. "Green stuff was coming out of her for two days."

The snail bait took "such a toll" on the dog that it required 24-hour care.

"It was there for four days and anaesthetised most of the time. It's probably the worst poisoning I've ever had to deal with," Dr Carney said.

We treated a cat with a fetish...

HERE TO HELP: Mudgee Vet Hospital staff have treated many pets throughout the years that have eaten things they shouldn't. Photo: SUPPLIED

HERE TO HELP: Mudgee Vet Hospital staff have treated many pets throughout the years that have eaten things they shouldn't. Photo: SUPPLIED

Simone Hurrell, a vet nurse in the NSW Central West, has seen some very strange things eaten by pets during her time.

"There's a local farmer who had his dog siting up the front with him [in the car] and he had an ice-cream and he put it down and the dog swallowed it, paddlepop stick and all," the vet nurse from Mudgee Veterinary Hospital said.

"We had a cat that had a fetish for hair ties and would actually help itself to them and we pulled out wads of them from the cat.

"We had a dog her that used to devour white pebbles from the driveway and it had worn all its teeth down.

"There was also a Labrador that we had to extract a bit of leather boot out of it that it had eaten."

Ms Hurrell said sometimes the result of your pet eating something it shouldn't can be life threatening.

"They [the swallowed item] could get stuck," she said.

"They could vomit or become lethargic and that's when you should take your animal to the vet."

What your pets ate that they shouldn't have

"When we lived on a waterfront our Labrador would eat all sorts of weird things whole. We saw a tail sticking out his rear end, and pulled it to find a very, very large water rat, perfectly whole," Annabelle McHugh said.

Her Labrador Jerry also ate a pie with the foil around it in one gulp.

"Our friend put it down for one second to be the goalie for his mates at the local oval," Ms McHugh said.

"He also ate a whole packet of chocolate Jaffas and wasn't even sick."

Emily Roberts' dog Brandybuck once ate a whole packet of Nurofen.

"He got every tablet out, sucked the sugar coating off and then spat them out, thank goodness," she said.

While Patty Sinclair's Labrador would steal Chux dishcloths, tea towels and socks and eat them.

Rex has eaten Matchbox cars, blankets, plastic food bowls and even parts of a trampoline. Photo: CARLA ANNE MULDOON

Rex has eaten Matchbox cars, blankets, plastic food bowls and even parts of a trampoline. Photo: CARLA ANNE MULDOON

"She also ate shoes and cushions and even stole bananas off the benchtop and ate them," she said. "She would take things into another room and hide and eat them."

Carla Anne Muldoon's dog Rex has eaten Matchbox cars, blankets, plastic food bowls and even parts of a trampoline.

"The funny thing is it all comes out the other end because when I pick it up there are bits and pieces hanging out of it. She has a cast iron stomach," she said.

Meeka the cat will often climb into the tumble dryer to go looking for socks. Photo: VIRGINIA VAN GEND

Meeka the cat will often climb into the tumble dryer to go looking for socks. Photo: VIRGINIA VAN GEND

It's not only dogs that eat things they shouldn't.

Virginia van Gen said her cat Meeka loves stealing socks and would even climb into the open tumble dryer to take them.

Kerryl Tobin's cat Blake ate a spool of thread and then needed a laparotomy and bowel resection which cost $2000.

"Then, eight months later, it found and unravelled a length of thread from a scarf and same again," she said.

"The cat is now living on a wing and a prayer."

While Kylie Tattersall's cat has eaten earphones, the straps off numerous sets of swimming goggles, hair bands. The earphones had to be surgically removed.

Why does your pet eat things it shouldn't?

The experts say there can be a range of reasons why your pet will eat strange things.

Mulberry Lane Vet Hospital veterinarian Judith Carney said dogs are "just hoovers" and often eat anything and everything.

Denison Dog Training Club chief instructor Wendy Ellis said it was very common that dogs eat underwear and socks.

"That is something that smells so much like you that it can be a comfort thing if you're not there," she said.

Stop Chew was no deterrent for Cass Lousie's bullmastiff called Zara.

Stop Chew was no deterrent for Cass Lousie's bullmastiff called Zara.

While for puppies, eating weird and wonderful things is all about learning, Ms Ellis said.

"A puppy's mouth is its hands and it's definitely a learning thing. They learn what it smells like and what it tastes like," she said.

"Puppies will often eat their own poo because when they're young their mother will eat the poos as a cleanliness thing."

However, Ms Ellis said eating random objects can also be due to boredom when pets are left at home by themselves.

She said "nine times out of 10" you won't know if your pet has eaten something it shouldn't, but there are signs to look out for.

"If they start straining to go to the toilet, they're trying to vomit or their stomach is distended, then that's the time to get to the vets, and get to the vet quickly," Ms Ellis said.

Don't let your pets eat...

  • Avocado
  • Chives
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coconut and coconut oil
  • Coffee
  • Cooked bones
  • Cooked manufactured meat
  • Garlic
  • Grapes, raisins, sultanas
  • Lilies
  • Milk
  • Nuts
  • Onions
  • Raw yeast dough
  • Salt
  • Sausages and sausage meat
  • Tomatoes