It’s a call that veterinarians receive all too often. “My dog ate plastic …can dogs digest plastic?” Along with
- “The dog ate a plastic bag, will he pass it with his next bowel movement?”
- “My dog ate plastic wrap, will it cause his intestines to twist?”
- “The dog ate a plastic toy, should I make him throw up?”
Dogs cannot digest plastic but small pieces often pass through without harm.
If you know or suspect that your dog has swallowed plastic, telephone your vet and describe what your dog has eaten. In most cases it is a question of watching and waiting.
An important question is, can dogs eat plastic at all – can they digest certain types of plastic but not others?
Unfortunately, dogs cannot digest plastic of any kind, and therefore, they should not eat it. However, dogs can be very sneaky when it comes to chewing on things that shouldn’t be chewed.
You may not know that your dog ate plastic until he passes a small object in his stool, is unable to eat, and/or starts throwing up. This often indicates an intestinal blockage.
Depending on the size and type of plastic object that your dog ate, the situation may or may not be urgent.
You may be able to induce your dog to regurgitate a small/soft plastic object (with your vet’s recommendation first).
Or you may need to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible for removal of a larger/sharp object.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the types of plastic objects that dogs often eat.
We will discuss what happens if a dog eats plastic and he manages to swallow it.
Then give you advice so he receives proper care quickly, and how you can prevent a similar problem in the future.
My Dog Eats Plastic – Why Does He Do That?
Owners post pictures of their beloved pets with a sign stating what embarrassing or funny object they’ve eaten or chewed up.
Dogs chew or ingest foreign objects for a variety of reasons.
As parents to Labradors and other “chew-happy” breeds know, some dogs chew and/or eat whatever they can find. Just because they find it amusing!
It is important to leave them with plenty of chew toys and also interact or exercise with them enough. Dogs that do not like to be cooped up in the house will find something to amuse themselves with.
Unfortunately, many household items are within reach of a bored dog.
This is particularly true with large breeds that can easily reach onto dining room tables or even kitchen countertops!
My Dog Ate Plastic When Teething
This one may be the most obvious cause for chewing of inedible objects: puppy teething!
Puppies who are not provided with proper chew toys will find solace in anything they can get their little chompers on. Smooth, hard plastic may be the something that they decide to chew on!
This is why it’s especially important to crate teething puppies when you’re unable to keep an eye on them.
What Plastic Objects Do Dogs Chew On Or Eat?
You may not realize how many plastic objects can be found in many a household on any given day! Here are just a few plastic items that pet dogs commonly like to chew.
- milk jug
- plastic bag
- children’s toy
- dog chew toy
- candy/food wrapper
- baby bottle
- bottle cap
- water bottle
- plastic ball – wiffle ball
- flying disc
- plastic parts of dog crates
- shampoo or conditioner bottles
- tennis shoes and sandals
- tampons/tampon applicators
- kids’ building bricks
- dog food bowls
- food storage containers
Many of us have these items on hand pretty much all of the time. So, it’s not feasible to simply do away with plastic in your home altogether.
Don’t worry though! Keep reading to learn some tips for preventing your dog from eating plastic and other foreign objects!
What Happens After My Dog Ate Plastic?
Depending on the type of plastic that your dog ate, the situation may be relatively non-urgent, or it may turn urgent in a matter of time.
Small plastic objects, such as plastic candy wrappers or soda bottle caps without sharp edges, may pass through a dog’s digestive system with little or no stomach irritation.
He’ll continue eating and acting normally.
You may not notice that your dog swallowed plastic of some sort until you see the object in his poo.
However, when a dog eats plastic and begins choking, exhibits abdominal pain, or starts throwing up and/or has constipation or diarrhea, it is a medical emergency.
This regardless of whether your dog ate plastic wrap, or your dog ate hard plastic like a container.
An ingested plastic object that cannot be passed smoothly has the potential to cause any of the following health hazards in a dog.
A soft or hard plastic object can cause a dog to choke as he tries to swallow the object.
Any foreign object can create a blockage in a dog’s digestive tract, causing him to vomit when he tries to eat or drink and/or to not be able to pass normal stool.
A sharp plastic object may damage the inside of his digestive system as it moves.
Some objects, if they’re large and sharp enough, can even puncture a lung or other organ.
Therefore, ingestion of any foreign object has the potential to require surgical intervention.
Even if you did not see your dog eat a plastic object, if he is unable to keep food and water down, his condition will deteriorate rapidly.
Take him to the vet for evaluation and x-rays to determine what is causing his symptoms as soon as possible.
So, what do you do if, say, your dog eats plastic bags? We’ll talk about the actions you should take based on your dog’s symptoms in the next section.
My Dog Swallowed Plastic – What Should I Do?
So your dog has found something more creative to eat… what’s a doggie parent to do now?
As we stated earlier, what happens if a dog eats a plastic bag or a dog eats plastic toy?
This varies based on the size and shape of the object and whether or not it’s soft enough to pass, or too hard to make it through the dog’s digestive tract.
If your dog ate plastic, even in a small amount, the general rule of thumb is to always loop your vet in, no matter how understated the situation may seem.
This way, your vet will already know what is going on, should the situation take a turn for the worse.
Some vets will even recommend hospitalizing the dog so that they can track the offending object via x-ray.
They may try use Barium swallow until the dog passes the object via defecation.
If the object does not continue to move and/or your dog starts to vomit, then your vet can immediately take him into surgery.
We recommend speaking with your vet before you take any type of action, even if your dog has swallowed something relatively minor and not as likely to cause damage.
Timing is everything when it comes to foreign object ingestion. A blockage in the gut can cut off the blood supply to impacted organs within hours.
Furthermore, never induce vomiting in your dog without your vet’s instruction or guidance.