What To Do If My Dog Ate Plastic?

What To Do If My Dog Ate PlasticWhen it comes to the most common household items, plastic is high on the list. Plastic is all around us, and is a backbone of many within your home. Because of this, there are plenty of opportunities for our pups to consume it.

So is it a big deal when our dogs eat different types of plastic? In this article we will dive into the details of this behavior, and help you understand why you should always take plastic consumption seriously!

Different Types of Plastics

There are multiple forms of plastic that our dogs can get their paws on. While some pose more of a risk to our furry friends than others, each type of plastic has the potential to cause complications if they are consumed. Before we move onto the details of a dog eating plastic, let’s first list the many types of plastic that can be in your home.

  • Dog toys
  • Food containers
  • Plastic bags
  • Plastic bottles
  • Bottle caps
  • Plastic cups
  • Garbage bags
  • Plastic bowls
  • Saran wrap
  • Tupperware
  • & more

Why Do Dogs Eat Plastic

There are a few reasons why your pup might resort to this behavior, ranging from behavioral issues to a search for a new snack. Understanding the reasons behind plastic consumption can help you prevent it in the future, and keep your dog safe from the complications that can come along with it.

Food Motivation

Sometimes a dog will consume plastic due to a lingering smell of food on the item, or because the item is currently holding food. Dogs have powerful noses, making it hard to resist the smell of a tasty snack. If plastic is in your dog’s reach that smells of food, they will likely dive in. Most food is covered with plastic wrap and if that plastic has food on it, it will entice your dog to eat it. This is one of the most common reasons that dogs eat plastic.

Boredom

Our dogs can resort to undesirable behavior when they are not receiving enough mental and physical stimulation. Canine boredom can cause a dog to tear up anything in reach, including plastic items around your home. Whether it is their favorite toy or the cup sitting on your counter, a bored dog may go to town.

Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety in dogs can lead to an array of destructive behavior. Dogs may tear up items around your home in attempts to self sooth, and plastic items can fall into this category. If your dog is left alone at home and they are struggling to cope with your absence, they may resort to chewing or eating things they should not.

My Dog Ate A Plastic Bag/Wrap

So is it dangerous for a dog to eat a plastic bag or wrap? While this may not be as serious as consuming a hard piece of plastic, there are still some risks to be aware of. First, the most immediate risk of consuming a plastic bag or wrap is choking. A lightweight plastic material can easily block a dog’s airway, making it difficult to breathe.

Another potential risk is that the plastic bag or wrap can ball up in the stomach or intestines and cause a blockage. While this may not be an issue for large dogs that can easily pass it, this can be a serious threat for small furry friends.

My Dog Ate Sharp Plastic

As you may have already guessed, it is extremely dangerous for a dog to consume hard pieces of plastic. Whether they eat pieces of a dog toy or chew on a hard plastic bowl, they are both just as risky. First, the consumption of hard plastic can seriously injure your dog’s mouth as they chew it. 

Pieces of plastic can push up into their gums, causing lacerations in their mouth. These sharp pieces can continue to cause damage as they pass through the GI tract, causing pain and potential bleeding along the way. 

The last potential risk of consuming sharp plastic is the threat of obstruction. Large pieces of plastic can become trapped in the digestive tract, causing a life threatening obstruction that can only be resolved with surgery. These pieces of plastic can cause serious damage to the intestines, making treatment even more complicated. 

What To Do If Your Dog Eats Plastic

If your dog consumed plastic, you’re likely looking for advice on what to do next. No matter the type of plastic that was consumed, there is only one option that will ensure your pup’s safety throughout the process; contacting your veterinarian.

Plastic consumption is something that you should never try to handle at home on your own. For example, many pet owners assume that they should induce vomiting at home when their pups eat plastic. Unfortunately, this is extremely risky to do at home and without medical training.

Plastic bags can cause an airway obstruction when they are vomited, while large pieces of plastic can cause serious damage and injury to the esophagus. Because of this, your vet will need to monitor your pet closely throughout the process, or may not even recommend inducing vomiting at all.

This is just one example of why you should always contact your veterinarian once you realize that your dog has consumed plastic. Whether it just happened or you notice the torn up plastic hours later, it is best to seek professional advice. This is your dog’s best chance at a good prognosis.

Why It’s Important To Act Fast

If your dog ever eats plastic, it’s important to act fast. The longer the plastic remains in their digestive tract without intervention, the higher the chance of potential complications. No matter how long ago your dog has consumed the plastic, it is key to contact your veterinarian from the moment you realize what happened.

If you are able to catch your dog in the act, you can immediately take your pup to the vet in hopes of inducing vomiting safely. This will also give your vet the chance to address any immediate threat the plastic has caused.

If you discover that your dog has consumed plastic hours after the fact, you should still contact your veterinarian at that moment. While the option of inducing vomiting may be off the table, they will need to take a look at your pup and run any diagnostics that can help them determine where the plastic is in the digestive tract. This way, your vet can determine if any further care is needed.

When pieces of plastic are left in the digestive tract, they have the potential to cause irritation, injury, obstruction, and more. The longer you wait to seek medical attention, the riskier it gets for your beloved companion.

Recreate The Scene If Possible

When you do take your dog to the vet to be examined, it is helpful to know just how much plastic they consumed. For example, if your dog tore up their favorite toy, you should bring the rest of the toy that is still intact, along with any chewed up pieces. This will allow your vet to have an idea of how much plastic they actually ate, and whether or not they should be concerned.

Dangers Of Dogs Eating Plastic

While we briefly discussed the dangers of plastic ingestion in dogs, let’s dive into each potential health risk.

Some of the main dangers of dogs eating plastic include:

  • Airway obstruction and choking
  • Injuries in the mouth
  • Bleeding due to lacerations from sharp pieces
  • Intestinal irritation
  • GI obstructions
  • Abdominal pain

Vet Treatment For Plastic Consumption

When taking your dog to the vet after their plastic consumption, you may be wondering what comes next. To help you better prepare for your dog’s vet visit, let’s discuss some of the most common treatment options when a dog eats plastic.

  • Inducing vomiting: If your dog just consumed the plastic and the vet is not afraid of potential injury, they may induce vomiting. Your vet will do this by giving your dog an injection that makes them nauseous, and monitoring your pup as they vomit.
  • Performing x-rays: If your vet does not recommend inducing vomiting or is unable to get your dog to vomit the plastic, they will likely perform x-rays. This can show your veterinarian where the plastic is in their digestive tract, as well as look for any obstructive patterns.
  • Hospitalization: Sometimes a soft piece of plastic or small pieces of plastic have moved through the digestive tract, but haven’t completely passed yet. If your vet does not think they require immediate surgery and stand a chance at passing the pieces on their own, they may suggest hospitalization. Your dog will be put on IV fluids to help hydrate their gut and assist them in passing the plastic on their own. Your vet will likely perform more x-rays to ensure that every piece has passed at the end of their stay.
  • Surgery: If your dog is unable to pass the plastic or the vet thinks it poses an immediate risk, they will likely recommend surgery to remove it. This involves cutting into the area that the plastic is hiding, and assessing the damage of the intestines. When the plastic is removed quickly and there is minimal damage to the intestines, the dog has a good prognosis. Things get a bit more complicated if there is any intestinal damage.

Concerning Symptoms To Watch For “After” Your Dog Ate Plastic

If you decide not to take your dog to the vet and to monitor them at home instead, there are a few symptoms to look out for in the following days. While we always suggest contacting your vet for further care, let’s discuss the concerning symptoms to watch for after your dog eats plastic.

  • Vomiting
  • Vomiting blood
  • Anorexia
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Abnormal body postures
  • Acting guarded when touching their abdomen
  • Unable to pass stool
  • Pain when passing stool

If you notice any abnormal behavior after your dog eats plastic, we recommend contacting your veterinarian immediately.

Can A Dog Die From Eating Plastic?

Unfortunately, a dog can die from eating plastic. As we mentioned above, plastic can cause serious damage to the digestive tract in many ways. Whether the plastic causes an intestinal obstruction or serious injury to the intestinal tissue, this can be life threatening for a dog.

A dog can bleed out from intestinal injury, experience a perforated intestine, develop a serious infection, and many other critical complications. This is why it is so important to seek veterinary care when your dog eats plastic, no matter the type of plastic that was consumed. The sooner you contact your veterinarian for assistance, the chance of a full recovery increases.

Can Dogs Pass Plastic On Their Own?

Yes, some dogs will pass plastic on their own without any complications. This is most common in dogs that consume soft pieces of plastic, small pieces of plastic, or are large breed dogs that have bigger intestines.

The issue in waiting for a dog to pass the plastic on their own is the time that passes in between. If you wait for a dog to pass the plastic and they are unable to do so, you introduce the possibility of intestinal damage. Time only increases the chance of potential complication, and can hurt your pup in the long run.

By contacting your vet from the start, you can have professional guidance on what to do next. Your dog may not need any further care, and you may be advised to let the plastic pass on it’s own after all. You just never know, but it’s best to be sure.

How To Stop Your Dog From Eating Plastic

Prevention is the best way to stop a dog from eating plastic. Items around our home can be extremely tempting for our pups, meaning we need to try our best to make the environment as safe as possible. Some of the best ways to prevent your dog from eating plastic include:

  • Purchasing chew safe toys
  • Avoiding any toys that are made of hard materials that can easily break off
  • Keeping any food containers out of reach
  • Trying not to leave out any used plates or cups
  • Keep the trash can out of reach if your dog is tall enough to reach in
  • Make sure your dog has plenty of toys to play with
  • Make sure you are offering plenty of mental and physical stimulation each day
  • Try not to leave your dog unattended for long hours

As you can see, plastic poses a great risk to our beloved companions. Be sure to review the information we discussed above, and you can protect your pup from this health threat in the future.

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