Woman tracks dog after it swallowed her Fitbit

  • March 21, 2023
  • Steve Rogerson
Harley’s Fitbit snack became lodged after ingestion and is clearly visible in her radiograph.

A Michigan woman’s dog swallowed her Fitbit and she was stunned to find she could track her pet’s movements.

Marie Fournier, who lives in Caseville, Michigan, went to retrieve her Fitbit from its charging cord in her bedroom and found it missing.

“I had my Fitbit plugged in on my dresser upstairs,” said Fournier. “I don’t use it every day, but I was confident I had left it in the bedroom. After a couple of days of looking for it, I opened the app and confirmed it must be around because someone was using it. It was hilarious. It had been tracking movement and it was like I rode my bicycle outside for 20 minutes.”

According to Fournier, their two dogs – Halley and Harley – don’t usually sleep with them upstairs and she thought she had puppy-proofed her home. Once she began to think it could be one of the dogs, however, she put her suspicions to the test.

“When I realised it must be one of the dogs who took the Fitbit, I began to suspect that perhaps Halley had eaten it because she was acting strangely,” Fournier said. “I put Halley in the car with me and drove around the block, but the app wasn’t tracking. Then I did the same thing with Harley and found out she was the real culprit. Halley’s strange behaviour must have been empathy for her sister.”

A trip to the vet resulted in a radiograph that not only confirmed the Fitbit had been swallowed, but that there was another mass that they couldn’t identify in her lower intestines. At first, they tried to induce vomiting. Nothing came up, but the mass moved, and we could see it better.”

“With any foreign body ingestion, there is a risk the item can become lodged in the stomach or intestines,” said Renee Schmid, senior veterinary toxicologist at Pet Poison Helpline. “We were also concerned about the Fitbit’s lithium polymer batteries. Lithium batteries can be more dangerous than common alkaline batteries, as they generate electrical current that causes severe tissue damage and necrosis [tissue death] if lodged in the gastrointestinal tract. Since it was more than 24 hours since ingestion, there was a concern the Fitbit would not pass on its own and we recommended surgery.”

During surgery, the medical team found that Harley had not only ingested the Fitbit, including its silicon band, but she had also swallowed a rock the size of a prune. Since Harley was going to be under anaesthesia for the surgery, the Fourniers decided to take advantage and had her spayed.

“The Fourniers were fortunate that Harley ate the Fitbit still attached to the band, rather than chewing and swallowing the battery separately,” Schmid said. “The band most likely helped Harley avoid lodging of the battery and the severe tissue damage that is often seen with lithium batteries.”

If a pet ingests any type of battery, including the most common lithium and alkaline dry cell batteries, severe damage to the gastrointestinal tract can occur and immediate veterinary care is recommended. Depending on the specific type of battery, whether it was punctured, and how much was ingested, treatment can vary from at home monitoring, starting medication to provide gastrointestinal protection, or potentially surgery. Lithium batteries, especially round, button-type batteries, tend to become lodged in the oesophagus, creating even more concerns.

“It’s actually lucky that Harley ate the Fitbit,” said Fournier. “If she hadn’t, we wouldn’t have known about the rock, and it might have caused far more damage or death. Even after they removed the Fitbit from her stomach, it is still working. I recently purchased a new band, and the Fitbit itself continues to track. I’m keeping it out of reach now. Apparently, Fitbits can also take a licking and keep on ticking.”