If you saw your dog eat plastic or you are worried that he could have, it’s not OK to casually hope that everything will be all right. You need to do something quickly. Dogs can’t or should not digest plastic. If you noticed your dog eating a big piece of plastic, you can expect big problems. When it’s small pieces, you might just be fortunate that the small pieces pass through the digestive system without much harm to your dog.
Don’t let it come to surgery
If you know the size of plastic the dog ate, maybe the vet might be able to get the dog to regurgitate it. Unfortunately, surgery might occur if you don’t know the size of the plastic the dog swallowed; almost certain if it was a big piece; that will be the next option. It is vital that you or anybody else does not try all kinds of methods to get your dog to vomit – this is something the vet must do. If you or anybody else doesn’t have the expertise, you could cause even more damage to your dog’s health and further complications.
People are always asking the question of whether all plastics are dangerous for dogs. Dogs can’t digest any kind of plastic, period. They should never eat it. Sometimes though, dogs might chew something they are not supposed to or pick up something that you didn’t see them pick up. You might be totally unaware that the dog has eaten plastic – if it was small, you might only observe this in his stool later. But if you notice he can’t eat properly or is throwing up, something more serious is occurring such as an intestinal blockage. Only try and induce the dog to regurgitate the plastic if your vet has told you it is OK to do it, and if it is small and soft. But if you don’t know what to do, it can be very dangerous for a dog to throw up if you have not induced the regurgitation properly according to the vet’s instructions. Further, if the object is big, rush your dog to the vet.
Dog’s need chew-toys and exercise to keep them happy
Dogs love chewing on toys provided to them, so it’s important for them to get plenty of the right chew-toys to keep them happy – that and exercise. Dogs that are cooped up in the house get bored and will look for anything to chew on or to play with to amuse themselves. Unfortunately, many household items are within a dog’s reach, from furniture to ornaments, to paper, all sorts of things – some dogs are big enough to take off items from the counter tops as well, and heaps of them are made from plastic.
Reasons why dogs might eat plastic or non-edible objects
- The Humane Society of the United States says that some dogs, even cats, can eat non-edible objects because they aren’t getting certain nutrients in their diet – like a horse will eat wood or even feces when it gets fed, for instance, old winter grass, which is lacking in certain nutrients.
- In the Merck Veterinary manual, it states that some dogs develop obsessive behaviors to cope with stress for instance such as separation-induced anxiety. Sometimes weaned puppies and kittens will suck on soft materials or blankets to release “feel-good” endorphins that the soft blanket offers them, and which were released when they nursed from their mother.
- Many people notice that their dogs need toys to chew when they are teething. If a puppy is not given a proper chew toy, he will look for things to chew on, and plastic can kill him. Sometimes it important to be able to put a pup in a crate just for a while when he is teething and when you cannot keep an eye on him all the time.
- Some dogs seem to have endless appetites, looking for food everywhere. If you leave plastic bottles and food containers that are empty on table-tops, etc., a hungry dog will help himself to it.
It’s not a laughing matter to watch a dog eating and ingesting foreign objects like plastic. Just think of all the plastic stuff laying around that a dog can chew on:
- Milk jugs, children’s toys, water bottles, baby bottles, dog food bowls, bottle caps, candy/food wrappers, food containers, tampon applicators, plastic balls – and the list of plastic stuff around the house goes on and on.
Dangerous symptoms to watch out for in your dog after eating plastic
If your dog has eaten plastic and starts to choke and show abdominal pain, even throwing up, this is the time to rush him to your vet and to consider it a medical emergency. Even if your dog shows these symptoms only after eating something small like a plastic wrapper or a bottle top, it is a medical emergency. If the plastic object is sharp, it can damage his insides and his digestive system as it moves along. Some objects, if they are big enough 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.
You can’t say “I didn’t see my dog eating any plastic” and just believe he will get better. The fact of the matter is, if he is unable to keep his water and food down and his condition deteriorates rapidly, you have to rush him to the vet immediately. He will need urgent evaluation and x-rays to figure out what is causing those symptoms, and how big the objects are. The vet might even use a barium swallow so that the dog can pass the pieces of plastic via defecating. However, if the plastic does not 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 certain organs within a matter of hours. Once you know exactly what your dog has swallowed, and your vet decides that it is safe, you can induce vomiting. If you don’t know what the dog swallowed, fortunately x-rays or an endoscope might help the vet to find out what the object is.
Once the dog has undergone surgery or the vet has managed to remove the plastic, he might prescribe antibiotics for the dog to help prevent any infection from developing. The vet will probably also recommend that your dog is kept quiet and calm for a few days afterward – this will allow his body to rest and recuperate. Maybe it might even be necessary to adjust the way in which you give your dog water and food for a few days or weeks, particularly if the dog has suffered damage to his intestines.
Time for action
If your dog ingested a plastic object and doesn’t appear yet to be distressed, then it is recommended that you take these actions for a couple of days because it could take that long for the object to pass through his system –
- Immediately you are aware that your dog swallowed plastic, call the vet so that he is aware of the situation. He might even recommend a treatment plan for you.
- If you are worried that your dog might have constipation, you can give him a bit of plain yogurt or some pureed pumpkin to soften his stools.
- Ensure that your dog is still eating and drinking normally because if he or she becomes lethargic, it could be that he or she is in pain. So watch out for any signs of your dog having digestive upsets or unusual bathroom habits – by his refusing to eat or drink or he is suffering from diarrhea or constipation are signs that a trip is necessary to the vet.
How can you stop your dog from eating plastic again?
You might have had the traumatic experience already of your dog swallowing a plastic object before and him having to undergo surgery to remove the object. You might have noticed plastic wrappers etc. in your dog’s poo – how do you prevent this from occurring again?
Get him chew-toys
Buy your dog some of his own chew toys – a powerful chewer needs these – make sure you get indestructible dog toys. If your dog does manage to chew up even these, replace them immediately they start falling apart. This will prevent the dog from swallowing the small pieces that get torn off. Use bigger toys that the dog can cope with and that he can’t swallow.
Is your dog a compulsive chewer or does he suffer from an eating behavior? He or she might be in need of some special training so that they are relieved of 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 objects that aren’t his toys is a “no-no.”
Plastic Is An Environmental Nightmare
It’s difficult to make broad generalizations about plastic because there are so many different forms it takes, but most plastic is indigestible. Save yourself stress, anxiety, money, and maybe your best friend’s life by ensuring at all times that plastic never forms part of his diet!
‘Do something drastic for your dog – cut the plastic!’