Chihuahua mix survives after eating hundreds beads from floral arrangement: "No one could believe it"

PORTLAND, Oregon -- You won't believe what a Portland pup managed to chow down! Hundreds of floral water beads. If you don't know what those are, you aren't the only one. This one had even the vets scratching their heads.

Staff at the DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital in Portland say they've seen it all. Dogs who have eaten socks, rocks and just about anything they can get in their mouths.

But never, they say, something quite like this.

Ellie, a two-year-old Chihuahua mix, is known to her owners as a terrible scrap hound. They say she has the incredible ability to eat just about anything.

"We call her Ellie Belly," said owner Sarah Haverly.

So when Ellie came across some water beads meant for a wedding floral arrangement, it seems she thought it was all a tasty treat just for her.

"I took a shower, and when I got out, there were the scraps of the bag. I thought, 'what was in here that the dog would have eaten?'" said Haverly. "In my bare feet I then realized I was stepping on the beads, but they were so teeny tiny, I had no sense of how many she consumed."

Those tiny beads expand in water, and in this case, that's what they did inside Ellie's stomach.

"I did a sweep of her mouth with my finger and found a whole bunch of them already starting to grow behind her gums, so I called DoveLewis," said Haverly.

"When she came in and gave that history, she got a lot of blank looks," said DoveLewis Surgeon Coby Richter. "On the phone I said, 'pardon me, a floral what?' All of us had to do a Google search -- 'what is a floral bead.'"

Richter said after reading up on the beads they didn't believe they were toxic, but knew they were dangerous to Ellie, because they absorb and grow in water.

Surgeons took an X-ray of Ellie's belly to figure out just how many beads she ate, but say it was tough to tell because it all just looked like food. Richter says she was stunned when Ellie wound up throwing up an entire Ziploc bag full of beads and in surgery they discovered even more.

"After the fourth handful coming out, I'm like 'you don't have to count them. We are clearly in the hundreds,'" said Richter.

Richter says since this was their first experience removing beads like this from a dog, they don't know what would have happened had they sat in Ellie's tummy any longer, but they do know it wouldn't have been good.

"The next morning, the bag of beads she vomited was bigger than the dog. No one could believe it, "said Richter.

Fortunately, Ellie survived and is doing remarkably well. She was stitched up and sent home with the cone of shame, one crazy story and a whole new nickname.

"This week we've been calling her the million dollar belly," joked Haverly. "We're just glad this little nut is OK. The whole team at DoveLewis was so great, we were on a first name basis here for a while. We're just grateful to everyone for their quick care and good help."

Staff says while it's quite possible Ellie's appetite for these beads might be rare, like anything else, it's best to be careful about putting dogs in a position to eat something they shouldn't.

They add that her owners did the right thing by bringing her in so quickly after the incident.

"I'm just so happy that the owner thought even a tablespoon, or two of these beads was a big deal for her dog to eat, because it definitely wound up being much more," said Richter.