ARL caring for dog who ate paper masks and needed life-saving surgery

The Animal Rescue League of Boston (ARL) is reminding the public to properly dispose of PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) after a dog recently needed emergency surgery to remove the paper masks he had ingested.

PPE has become a way of life for all of us, however if not properly disposed of, masks, gloves, and other PPE may become life-threatening hazards, not only to domestic animals but to wildlife as well.

ARL joins the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR), Massachusetts Veterinary Medicine Association (MVMA), MVMA Charities, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, and the Dracut Police Department  in providing this important public awareness message.

Why is improperly discarded PPE so dangerous?

Masks can smell like food, and dogs or wildlife may think they’re a treat. These items can cause massive stomach upset or intestinal blockages, and the metal nose wire in masks may cause a variety of health issues, including stomach and esophageal tears, as well as sepsis, which may prove fatal if not treated.

Signs your dog may have ingested a foreign body include:

  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal tenderness or pain
  • decreased appetite (know as anorexia)
  • straining to defecate or producing small amounts of feces
  • lethargy
  • changes in behavior such as biting or growling when picked up or handled around the abdomen

When finished with a piece of PPE, it should always be disposed of in a covered waste container.

We are all in this together, and it’s up to all of us to protect our pets and wildlife and to keep Massachusetts beautiful!