– Dogs can eat plastic because of several reasons, either medical or behavioral.
– Dogs cannot digest plastic; either they vomit/poop it or they undergo surgery to remove it.
– Plastic ingestion can bring harm to your dog, including intestinal blockage.
– Don't wait any longer; bring your dog to the vet immediately for prompt treatment.
Table of Contents
- 6 Steps to Take If Your Dog Ate Plastic
- What would happen if my dog ate plastic?
- Why Does My Dog Eat Plastic Anyway?
- How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Plastic Again?
- Common Questions for When Your Dog Ate Plastic
- What Happens If My Dog Eats Plastic?
- Can Eating Plastic Kill a Dog?
- How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Pass Plastic?
- How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has a Blockage?
- Will Plastic Dissolve in a Dog's Stomach?
- How Long Can a Dog Survive with an Intestinal Blockage?
- How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Bowel Obstruction in a Dog?
- Your Dog Ate Plastic? Now you Know What To Do!
OH NO! Your dog ate plastic! What should you do?
No, it's not OK to casually hope everything will be all right.
Not that I'm saying you should panic, but… it would certainly help if you do something quickly.
Dogs can't and shouldn't digest plastic.
If you notice your dog eating small pieces of plastic, you're lucky if it passes through the back end.
But if it's a large one… oh boy. That's a problem.
The urge for our dogs to eat non-edible items is called Pica.
It is most likely Pica if our dogs eat and ingest, not just chew, these non-edible items, according to Dr. Amber Karwacki of Heart+Paw Philadelphia.
“If the non-food item gets stuck in the stomach or intestines, you can see vomiting, decreased appetite, and pain in the abdomen. Excessive drooling, as well as gagging, can be caused if a foreign material is caught in the throat,” Dr. Karwacki said in an interview.
So make sure to do these things if you see (or suspect) your dog ate plastic.
6 Steps to Take If Your Dog Ate Plastic
I remember accidentally leaving my plastic comb on the sofa as I was taking a call.
Zorro, my dog, was sitting with me on the couch at that time.
I went back and found my half-comb partly chewed and full of drool.
So, yes. I can just imagine how panicky you felt upon seeing your dog chewing plastic.
Looking back at that moment (and all the other incidents that happened with my other dogs,) here are the things I did.
They don't necessarily have to be done in order.
But remember: the keyword here is Immediate.
1. Remove Any Plastic Left
If your dog is still chewing, that means there's plastic left in his mouth.
Remove that immediately.
Luckily, with my Zorro, I was able to snatch the comb piece away from him before he even managed to swallow.
And let me tell you, that felt like averting a train wreck.
2. Determine How Much Plastic Your Dog Ate
Now this is important to know. How much plastic did your dog eat?
You can check it from the piece they chewed on.
If you know the size of plastic your dog ate, maybe the vet might be able to get him to regurgitate it.
He can even instruct you over the phone on how you can regurgitate your dog.
But if not, surgery might occur, especially if it turns out to be a big piece.
DO NOT try to make your dog vomit on your own without an expert's guidance, as you may cause more damage than good.
3. Is Your Dog Choking?
Look for signs of choking.
Is your dog hacking? Is he pawing his mouth and nose? Is he sneezing
It's also possible he inhaled smaller pieces of plastic. Not most likely, but still possible.
If he is, take him to the emergency room immediately.
4. Check Your Dog's Posture
If your dog has swallowed the plastic for quite a while now and you see him hunkering down, or like he's straining to poop, that might indicate a stomachache.
However, if you see him standing just about right, and he seems like himself, then you shouldn't panic too much.
Not that you shouldn't bring him to the vet if that's the case.
You should still, especially if you're sure that he ate plastic.
As we said in the beginning: it's not OK to assume it's going to be fine.
5. Check for Breathing Issues
This could be another sign that your dog is choking or that a piece of plastic is causing a blockage in his airways.
You may see your dog panting more heavily than usual, excessive movement in his body while breathing, or breathing with his mouth open.
6. Go To Your Vet
Whichever of the above steps you do first, the bottom line is: see your vet.
If you can call them without prior notice, that's better.
They can guide you further on how you can give first aid to your dog.
If not, rush your pooch to the emergency room because this is an emergency.
I know, sometimes, you're just not too sure if he really ate a plastic, and you don't want to make the unnecessary trip to the vet or pay for a checkup if it ends up not being the case.
However, if you see him not eating properly or throwing up, there's a chance that something serious is occurring.
He might be having an intestinal blockage, for example.
So before coming into that scenario, it's really better to have him checked for nothing than wait for something serious to happen.
What would happen if my dog ate plastic?
Look. I'm not going to baby you and say, “Everything's going to be alright.”
Your dog ate plastic!
If he starts to choke, show signs of abdominal pain, or throw up, rush him to the vet.
Now if he shows these symptoms even though he ate only a small piece like a wrapper or a bottle top, still, rush him to the vet.
Because if that piece is sharp, it can damage his insides and his digestive system as it moves along.
Some objects, if they are big and sharp enough, can even puncture your dog's lungs or any of his other organs.
All of these can result in your dog needing surgical intervention.
As dog owners, we wouldn't want it to come to surgery, would we?
What will happen at the vet?
The first thing your vet's going to do is evaluate your dog immediately, followed by a series of tests to determine where the object is and how big the object is.
The vet might even use a barium swallow, where they'll have your dog swallow a chalky drink as they take an x-ray of his throat.
Endoscopy could be another option too.
If the plastic is small, your vet will likely try to induce vomiting or give laxatives to make your dog vomit or poop the piece.
But if the plastic doesn't move down or out and the dog starts vomiting, the vet will be on hand to take him to surgery immediately.
Timing is everything when it comes to a pet ingesting a foreign object such as plastic.
This is because a blockage in the gut can cut off the blood supply to specific organs within a matter of hours.
And yes, this is a matter of life or death situation.
If it ends up in surgery, first, I'd hug you if I can. It's stressful, I know. And not to mention the cost!
But it is what it is.
Once your dog has undergone surgery or the vet has removed the plastic, he will prescribe antibiotics for the dog to prevent any infection from developing.
Your vet will also ask you to help your dog be calm and quiet for a few days.
He's going to need rest to recuperate after a stressful situation.
If your dog damaged his intestines, your vet would give instructions on his water and food intake.
Why Does My Dog Eat Plastic Anyway?
There are a couple of reasons why our dogs eat plastic or non-edible objects.
It can also be their way to cope with stress or anxiety.
The reason could be medical (nutritional imbalance or endocrine diseases) or behavioral, says Dr. Karyn Collier of Saint Francis Veterinary Center of South Jersey.
“Stress, boredom, and anxiety, particularly separation anxiety, may cause a dog to be destructive and ingest things such as bedding, items of clothing, or items from the trash,” Dr. Collier said.
However, some dogs just really have a big appetite. Whatever they can get their paw on, they treat it as food!
Puppies chew, especially when they're teething.
Remember: there is a lot of plastic stuff in our homes now that our dogs might eat.
Just think of the plastic bottles, food containers, candy wrappers, milk jugs, bottle caps, etc.
Even your dog's own stuff—water bowl, toys—the list goes on.
How Can I Stop My Dog From Eating Plastic Again?
I know that rushing your dog to the vet because of an emergency is traumatic.
So how can we stop it from happening again?
Here are a couple of ways our veterinarian taught me to do with my dogs.
1. Give them chew toys
Give your dog chew toys!
But not just any chew toy because these are also made of plastic.
Make sure it's an indestructible one.
This will make them occupied, happy, and exercised too!
However, if your large Fido managed to chew up even these, replace them immediately the moment you see breaking pieces.
My tip is to use the larger, giant toys.
My dogs are all medium-sized, so they find toys meant for larger dogs more challenging.
The bonus is they don't wear out the toys as fast as the others.
2. Get your compulsive chewers training
Is your dog a compulsive chewer? Or does he suffer from eating behavior?
They might need some special training to relieve the stress that can cause anxious behavior.
Regardless of what your dog's reason is for chewing on plastic and other foreign objects, you can train your dog that picking up non-food things that aren't his toys is a “no-no.”
Dr. Collier advised, “For dogs with separation anxiety, owners should provide training and exercise. It’s also important to ensure that high-energy dogs have appropriate outlets for that energy. Secondly, we eliminate or limit the pet’s access to those items we do not want them to eat.”
Eliminate our dog's access—which brings us to our next solution.
3. Plastic Is An Environmental Nightmare—Cut it Out!
It isn't easy to make broad generalizations about plastic.
This is because it takes so many different forms, and sure, they really help make our lives easier.
However, plastic is indigestible.
So save yourself the stress, anxiety, and money by ensuring at all times that plastic never becomes part of your dog's diet!
‘Do something drastic for your dog – cut the plastic!'
Common Questions for When Your Dog Ate Plastic
Still have some questions about your dog's unfortunate plastic consumption?
We might've answered that for you in this section.
What Happens If My Dog Eats Plastic?
Your dog may pass plastic through his poop.
You may also find yourself cleaning up dog vomit with plastic in it shortly.
But these are the best-case scenario.
It is always up in the air as to whether your dog will have a foreign body obstruction or not.
So if you suspect that this is the case, take him to a veterinarian immediately.
You never want to leave intestinal obstruction untreated.
Can Eating Plastic Kill a Dog?
Yes, eating plastic can kill a dog, even a healthy dog.
Luckily, you have ample opportunity to prevent this from happening.
The critical thing to remember is that your dog's digestive system cannot process plastic.
If your dog swallows any plastic objects, he has to excrete them in one way or another.
But that depends on the size of the plastic.
If your dog eats a larger piece, he may have to undergo surgery.
You should also not assume that your dog is okay if he seems normal after eating plastic.
Nobody knows what's happening in his body until you have him checked by the vet.
How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Pass Plastic?
If your dog swallowed a plastic object, it would be in his intestines within about two hours.
At this point, you can't get your dog to vomit the plastic back up.
In some cases, however, the dog poops the plastic without a problem most of the time.
That is if the plastic pieces are small enough.
Most food stays for about 4 to 10 hours in your dog's stomach as they get processed inside.
That's a long time to wonder what the plastic may be doing in his body.
So it's better to take him to the vet immediately.
How Can You Tell If Your Dog Has a Blockage?
As mentioned, the most significant risk with a bored dog that eats plastic is bowel obstruction or blockage.
Because of this, you need to be alert for the symptoms.
One sign is repetitive vomiting.
Your dog may also not be able to hold any water down, which leads to dehydration.
If you notice any of these symptoms, take your dog to the vet and tell him that your puppy ate soft plastic.
He will check your dog's stomach and may run tests for a foreign object in the digestive system.
Remember that if your dog has a blockage, he will likely need surgery.
Will Plastic Dissolve in a Dog's Stomach?
Sure, our dogs have strong stomachs, but that doesn't mean they can digest plastic.
Their stomach acid can't dissolve these, not even soft ones.
If your pup eats a plastic spoon, plastic bag, or another item, it will have to leave his body, one way or another.
Either he vomits it, eliminates it in his feces, or gets surgery.
Otherwise, it will sit in his intestines and cause a perforation or blockage.
How Long Can a Dog Survive with an Intestinal Blockage?
If your dog has an intestinal blockage from a sandwich bag or something else, you must take care of it immediately.
Left untreated, the complete obstruction will typically kill your dog in just three or four days.
If the blockage is partial, then your dog might live up to three or four weeks without treatment.
The symptoms are also more intermittent and less severe for partial blockages.
The deadliness of a blockage is why it is so vital that you pay attention to what goes into your dog's throat.
If you suspect a blockage based on your dog's symptoms, visit the vet immediately. He will provide veterinary advice to minimize the amount your dog suffers and treat him.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove a Bowel Obstruction in a Dog?
The cost to remove your dog's bowel obstruction depends on the situation.
Expect to pay at least $800.
You may pay $7,000 or more for more complicated situations or in high-cost-of-living areas.
Those costs should include all exams and surgery, including anesthesia, hospitalization, and operating room use.
Your Dog Ate Plastic? Now you Know What To Do!
Our dogs eat plastic because they don't know better. But we, dog guardians, do!
So if you're reading this only as a cautionary tale, then do what you can to not let this happen.
But if things are already said and done, don't blame yourself.
There are ways you can do to save your dog from an unfortunate situation.
Have you experienced something similar to this? Share it with us in the comments section!
Interested to read more about our dog's chewing behavior or gastrointestinal health?
Check out the links below!
- 8 Items Dogs Choke On Most Often
- 15 Ways to Prevent Dogs from Chewing Furniture and Your Belongings
- 11 Dog Stomach Problems (Gastrointestinal and Digestive): Causes and Treatment
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