What to Do If Your Dog Eats Plastic?
If you caught your dog chewing on plastic, you may be panicking and wondering what to do if your dog eats plastic.
As a dog owner, you know that it can be quite difficult to always keep an eye on what they are eating. With so many small objects around the house, there’s no telling what they can ingest in your absence.
The thing about plastic, though, is that dogs can’t digest it. So you need to be particularly watchful if you have a lot of plastic around the house.
Tiny pieces might make it out of the dog’s system. But other times, they can cause serious health complications, and your dog may not survive.
If you find your furry friend sneakily scarfing down a piece of plastic, you need to take immediate action, so things don’t get out of hand.
What to Do When You Catch Your Dog Eating Plastic?
You have just entered the house only to notice bits of plastic in places your dog likes to hang around. Don’t panic because you may end up making matters worse. Here’s just what to do if your dog eats plastic.
Inspect Your Dog’s Mouth for Any Leftovers
Your dog may have swallowed a lot of plastic already, but that doesn’t mean you should let it eat more. Check its mouth to see if there are any leftover pieces stuck in there and carefully remove them. Wear rubber gloves if you’re worried your dog may act up and bite you.
If you’re not comfortable putting your hands in your dog’s mouth, then ask someone else to help you. Make sure your dog’s mouth is entirely plastic-free.
Don't Try to Make Your Dog Vomit
Now some people may advise you to induce vomiting in your dog and get rid of any plastic in its system. It might work sometimes. But since you don’t always know the type of plastic that was swallowed, you may end doing more harm than good.
The plastic may not safely make its way back through the esophagus and can get lodged in there. Since vomiting involves the contraction of abdominal muscles, any bit of plastic inside the stomach may rupture your dog’s intestines.
Only make your dog throw up if your vet tells you to. You may get rid of small and soft objects this way, but to get rid of sharper objects, you may need to bring them to your vet right away.
Figure out the Extent of Damage
If your dog doesn’t seem to be in any pain or discomfort, then the first thing you need to do is identify the type of plastic he ate and how much.
It could’ve consumed a piece of a plastic bag or hard plastic from a toy. Both are significantly different and need to be treated in different ways.
So make sure to scour the house to find any remains. Examine them to figure out how much of it was consumed and if it could potentially put your dog’s health at risk.
Try to determine if there was another substance like chemicals or rotten food that was ingested with the plastic because they can pose an additional threat.
Take Your Dog to the Vet
If you notice that your dog isn’t breathing normally and it appears as though he’s choking on something, then you need to take it to the vet’s office immediately. If your dog is lying down in strange positions and seems to be bloated or in discomfort, then that’s another cause for concern.
The vet will examine your dog to see if it’s at risk of severe health issues and tell you about the recommended course of action.
If your dog chewed up a little piece of plastic wrap and is behaving normally, then the vet will only tell you to monitor your dog’s health for the next few days and see if anything unusual happens. In most cases, though, it will merely pass through the intestines with ease.
But if your dog tried to chomp down on a hard piece of plastic, then its stomach, intestines, and esophagus may be in grave danger. If your dog is relatively small, it might not be able to excrete the plastic and experience significant discomfort. In this case, you must hurry and consult a nearby vet so that necessary steps can be taken.
Please watch an important video below on what to do when dog eats plastic.
What Are the Dangers of Dog Eating Plastic?
There are many dangers of eating plastic. The most common issues that can be experienced by dogs are as follows:
- It can get stuck inside the dog’s mouth or throat and cause painful choking.
- If it’s sharp, it can easily damage the dog’s mouth, throat, intestines, stomach, and rectum.
- It can block the intestines, not allowing any food or other substances to make their way out of the body.
- It can also significantly damage the dog’s teeth.
- The plastic could easily have been covered in chemicals and toxic substances that can harm your dog’s health.
The plastic itself isn’t usually toxic, but you need to consider all the possibilities to make sure you’re not accidentally putting your dog in harm’s way.
Many different types of plastics exist, and most of them have one thing in common. They are indigestible. They’re also awful for the environment because they can last for an extremely long period.
Veterinary Treatment for a Dog Who Has Eaten Plastic
You may have questions about what will go down at the vet’s office, and here’s what you can expect.
Upon your arrival, the staff may take your dog’s vitals and check its history. They’ll most probably ask you about the type of plastic that your dog consumed and any symptoms of concern it has shown. If you found any remains at home, then don’t forget to take them with you so the staff can form a better judgment.
Your dog will then be examined by the vet who may take X-rays to locate where the plastic is inside the body and check if it can create an obstruction.
If it seems harmless to the vet, then they may discharge your dog and only ask you to observe its activity in the next couple of days. But if they think the situation can escalate, then they may ask you to admit your dog.
The plastic can be removed in several ways. Sometimes an endoscopy is performed to extract the plastic. It may be inserted through your dog’s mouth or rectum.
Other times, the vet will have to remove it surgically. They’ll also need to repair any internal injuries that were caused as the plastic moved inside the body. After the surgical procedure, they’ll prescribe medications to make sure infections don’t occur.
You’ll also be told to keep your dog from moving too much and allow it to rest so that it can adequately recover. You may also have to switch up their diet in the coming days, depending on the extent of damage.
Here is advice from a vet as to what to do when dog eats plastic or a foreign object. Be sure to watch this one carefully.
How to Ease Your Dog’s Discomfort After Eating Plastic?
In your quest to answer what to do when dog eats plastic, you have to wonder what to feed your dog or how to ease its discomfort when it has swallowed a piece of plastic.
To relieve some of the discomfort your dog’s experiencing, you can feed it certain types of food to help normalize its digestive function and bowel movement.
Pumpkins have been known to help with many digestive problems. You can feed your dog pumpkin in the form of a puree or mix a pumpkin supplement in its regular food. It will help with any issues related to defecation and will firm up the poop in case of diarrhea. It can also relieve abdominal pain.
You can also give your dog some yogurt to improve its health. It’s rich in calcium and protein and acts like a probiotic that helps with digestion. Make sure you’re getting a yogurt without added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Dogs are lactose intolerant, so don’t feed your dog Greek yogurt because it’s a dairy product.
Rice with Boiled Chicken
Give a small amount of white rice with boiled boneless and skinless chicken to your dog. Start with 4 ounces of chicken and half a cup of rice, but the portions can vary for different dogs. Keep feeding this until its stool starts firming up and goes back to normal.
Try to give them food in controlled portions and slowly ease them back into a regular diet.
What Symptoms to Watch out for When Dog Eats Plastic?
Sometimes plastic can pass through your dog’s system without causing any pain. But other times, the symptoms are so severe that you’ll have no choice but to move quickly.
If your dog shows any of the following signs, then head to the vet’s office right away.
It may start repeatedly vomiting throughout the day because of intestinal blockage.
It may appear to be bloated, especially in the abdominal area, due to an obstruction in the digestive system.
Strange Body Posture
Your dog may lie down in uncomfortable positions because of the discomfort.
It may also start panicking because of the pain it’s experiencing.
Your dog may start crying or whining incessantly.
It may experience diarrhea as well, which may also contain blood.
If the plastic causes internal injury, then you may need to get a surgical procedure done on your dog to remove it and repair the damaged tissues.
What Types of Plastic Dogs Usually Eat?
Let’s talk about prevention. There are so many plastic objects lying around the house that can easily catch your dog’s interest. Some of the most common items that dogs love chewing are as follows:
- Plastic bag
- Plastic wrap
- Children’s toys
- Chew toys
- Water bottle
- DVD/ CD case
- Tampon applicators
- kids’ building bricks
- Food bowls
- Food containers
These are essential items that you simply cannot do without so you can’t get rid of them. What you can do is make sure they’re not within your dog’s reach.
Why Do Dogs Eat Plastic?
Here are a few reasons behind why do dogs eat plastic in the first place.
Dogs can also develop obsessive habits to cope with stress and anxiety. They can take a normal behavior that they love doing, like chewing and use that as a coping mechanism. Separation anxiety is something that can cause them to start behaving compulsively.
This type of behavior helps calm them down, and so they start chewing up anything insight that they can fit inside their mouths.
If you don’t take your dogs out for walks often and don’t allow them to engage in physical activity, they can get bored quickly. You need to stimulate their brains so they won’t develop strange habits like chewing or eating inedible things.
Give them enough attention so that they won’t resort to destructive ways of keeping themselves busy.
If you have a puppy that’s going through its teething phase, then you know it loves to munch on anything it can lay eyes on. If you don’t give it proper chewable toys, they can easily find plastic toys or plastic bags to chew on and accidentally swallow them.
If you are not around to keep an eye on them all the time, then get a crate and keep them in there so they can’t reach strange objects in your house.
Pica is a condition in dogs that makes them want to chew inedible objects. It occurs from medical issues or even poor nutrition. Dogs with a nutritional deficiency start chewing up non-food items to get the nutrient they lack in their regular diet.
You may be surprised to know, but sometimes it’s pure hunger that can make your dog swallow plastic items. Your dog may have an insatiable appetite, and you may not know of it. Even if you make sure it doesn’t miss any meals, you can still find it eating other things to satisfy its hunger.
Nothing is safe from them. Even an empty plastic food container can tempt them. Check with your vet to make sure there’s nothing wrong with your dog and ask for tips for handling its unusual eating habits.
Be sure to watch this video on dog eating a plastic bottle out of hunger.
How to Stop Your Dog from Eating Plastic?
Prevention is better than cure. Owning a dog is a responsibility, and you need to take good care of them and make sure they’re always in good shape. Some ways you can keep your dogs from swallowing plastic are listed below.
Get Durable Chew Toys
It’s common for dogs to rip their toys into pieces, so you need to find the most durable chew toys that won’t break under your dog’s toothy grip. These toys are the safest and of excellent quality that are made, especially for aggressive dogs.
It’s also advisable to give your dogs large toys so they can’t tear it apart with their teeth and aren’t able to chew them up.
Wash Your Food Containers
Dogs are great sniffers. They can smell any leftover food in your food containers. That’s why you need to clean them with dish soap and store them away in cupboards.
Get a Trashcan with a Locking Lid
Make sure you’re not throwing away any food wrapped in plastic. Dogs can go through your trash to find something to eat. To keep them from doing this, you need to get a trash can with a locking lid. They won’t be able to check out the rotting contents anymore.
Train Your Dog
If your dog has compulsive eating habits, then you need to train them so they’ll stop eating strange things. You may have to give them specialized training to help ease some of the stress that causes them to get so obsessive.
You can also get them to unlearn these habits by giving them a firm ‘no’ if they pick up any non-food items. Teach them what to do when you say ‘drop it’ while they are chewing something they shouldn’t be chewing.
Crate Your Dog When You Can't Watch It
You must keep an eye on your pet if they’ve been behaving strangely. When you’re training them to stop eating inappropriate things, you need to watch them closely. When you’re not around to pay attention to them, then you should use a crate. Their safety is more important than their freedom.
Now that you’ve learned what to do if your dog eats plastic, you can be fully prepared to take the right steps if something improper happens. Remember not to panic and take your dog to the vet to make sure it has a quick and full recovery.
Paul Cook is an avid pet and animal enthusiast. He spent much of her childhood on a small farm in rural Iowa. When in high school, Paul nursed an entire box of newborn, and recently dumped, kittens back to health, and successfully found homes for all of them. He’s presently the dog-dad of nine beautiful dogs, Bruno, Lester, Sandy, Bailey, Dio, Pat, Max, Brutus, and Nora. In his career life, Paul has 20+ years of writing experience as a content writer and content collaborator across a host of verticals. When he is not writing, he is spending time with his dogs.