Puppy Swallows Toilet Brush, Recovers at ASPCA Animal Hospital

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 - 4:00pm
x-ray of dog that swallowed toilet brush

Charesse W. calls her five-month old pit bull mix, Petey, her “miracle dog” for good reason. On Christmas Day, Charesse left her Brooklyn apartment to spend time with family. Petey stayed behind, and when Charesse returned a few hours later, nothing seemed amiss. In the days that followed, however, Petey grew very sick. He stopped eating and drinking, and his weight declined rapidly.

Charesse rushed Petey to the ASPCA Animal Hospital, where he received care through the ASPCA’s Trooper Fund—a program in place to cover medical costs for animals whose guardians need assistance with veterinary expenses.

Veterinarian Dr. Juline Holland noted that Petey was severely dehydrated and thin, and she could feel a tubular object extending the length of his abdomen. She stabilized Petey before sending him to radiology, where she was shocked by his radiographs. This small pup had swallowed something strange. Doctors and nurses gathered around the X-ray, studying a long, thin object that extended almost the entire length of Petey’s body.

Petey needed emergency surgery—foreign objects, especially one so large, can cause severe damage to the throat, stomach or intestines if swallowed. The resulting complications can be fatal.

Dr. Yvonne Kline, along with Dr. Marisa Altieri, performed surgery on Petey, and what they found in his the abdominal cavity was astounding. It turned out to be a toilet brush, approximately 15 inches long! The brush end was stuck in Petey’s esophagus, while the handle stretched his stomach to several times its normal length.

ASPCA veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Klinewith Petey and Charesse
ASPCA Veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Kline (left) with Petey and Charesse (right)  

The doctors considered pushing the brush from Petey’s stomach, but it was lodged tightly in his throat. The only other option was to make a small incision into the stomach and extract it. They did so, and gently removed the brush.

“It was the one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen in veterinary medicine and the strangest surgery I have ever performed,” Dr. Kline says. 

The next day, Petey was eating again, and staff noticed how affectionate he was. Petey is taking medicine to relieve gagging symptoms and eating multiple meals a day to gain weight. 

After days and sleepless nights spent worrying about Petey, Charesse was immensely relieved. Her “miracle dog” is working on one important New Year’s resolution: not to swallow anything larger than dog kibble, or maybe the occasional treat!

Marcus Graham, ASPCA senior animal care technician with veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Kline
Marcus Graham, ASPCA senior animal care technician (left) with veterinarian Dr. Yvonne Kline (right)

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I really understand. My cat Houdini, has had a chestnut and a piece of corn cob removed from his intestine. Two separate surgeries, a year apart. Similar symptoms, not eating or drinking. My vet has saved him twice. We have childproof locks on all cabinets now and are very careful with anything small. My forever, 2 year old:)


The owner let the dog suffer for quite a while for it to be emaciated/not eating/drinking - seems really strange to me - that dog looks skinny - I wonder how long she was gone for, and who was babysitting that poor dog...sad...


I know the distress that Charesse felt. My 45 lb. mixed breed got in the trash and swallowed a corn cob. I too noticed that she wasn't eating and was listless. When she continued to act unusual on the second day, I rushed her to the vet's office. She was transferred to a Specialist and operated on the next day. I didn't know if she was out of the woods for 2 days. I was beside myself. Thankfully, the surgery worked. I AM SO GLAD THAT CHARESSE'S PETEY ALSO MADE A FULL RECOVERY. UNFORTUNATELY, WE CAN'T WATCH THEM 24 HRS. I, LIKE CHARESSE, WOULD HAVE BEEN HEART BROKEN IF I LOST MY SWEET SASSY.


When you think about it there is no way the dog could have "swallowed" something 15 inches long and rigid (see the photo). Someone needs to look at possible abuse of this dog.

Rosa Caldwell

Hard to believe, but the pictures sure prove it. That sure couldn't of felt good going down. So glad that she got to it in time to have the surgery without any further damage. Poor baby.


I would like to witness the operation, I can only imagine how they managed to pull the brush out without stretching the intestine to the point of tearing. they had to have bent the dog to get the brush out, dangerous.


Thank God that precious little angel is okay! He's so adorable!


Our golden got dreadfully ill when he was about ten weeks old--we'd just adopted him. Rushed him to the vet. I knew there was an obstruction based on how he was acting (near death). One day and four grand later, they removed a piece of steel wool from his tummy. The next day he was himself again, making friends with everyone who came near. To this day, have no idea where he found the damn thing since I don't use steel wool. Probably between the stones of our foundation.


This is definitely something that qualifies to be on the TV show called "My dog at what?"


I think he was just trying to say, please don't leave me home at Xmas!