If you’ve seen your dog eat plastic, or you’re just worried your dog ate plastic when you weren’t looking, you need to act quickly.
Dogs cannot digest plastic. So, large pieces of plastic can cause bad problems. But small pieces are often able to pass through without harm.
If your dog has eaten plastic, your vet may get your dog to regurgitate it, if small enough. But in more extreme cases, surgery can be required.
It’s important to never make your dog vomit without your vet’s guidance. As this has the risk of causing some serious health complications.
Questions People Ask Vets
You’re not alone here. This is a call that vets 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?”
If you know or think that your dog has swallowed plastic, phone your vet and describe what your dog has eaten. In most cases it is a question of watching and waiting. But if other action needs to be taken, your vet will be the best one to advise you.
My Dog Ate Plastic FAQs
If you need the answer to a specific question quickly, click on one of the links below.
Here are some of our readers’ most frequently asked questions about dogs eating plastic:
- Why does my dog eat plastic?
- What types of plastic do dogs usually eat?
- What should I do if my dog eats plastic?
- How can I stop my dog eating plastic?
Or you can continue reading for more information on the topic as a whole.
Can Dogs Digest Plastic?
An important question is, can dogs eat plastic at all? Or can they digest certain types of plastic but not others?
Unfortunately, dogs cannot digest plastic of any kind. So, they should never eat it.
But, as any dog owner knows, 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. But either way, you should contact your vet straight away.
Ways of Removal
You may be able to induce your dog to regurgitate a small/soft plastic object. But you should only ever do this if your vet tells you to. It can be very dangerous to make your dog throw up if you don’t do it properly.
If your dog has swallowed a larger or sharp object, there might not be much you can do to help from home. You may need to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible.
In this article, we’ll walk you through the types of plastic objects that dogs often eat. Sometimes, making these items as inaccessible as possible is the best solution.
My Dog Eats Plastic – Why Does He Do That?
If you’re on any type of social media platform, then chances are that you’ve seen dog shaming posts.
Owners post pictures of their pets with a sign stating what embarrassing or funny object they’ve eaten or chewed up.
It makes for some pretty funny reading! But why do so many dogs like to chew up our things? And are there any ways we can prevent it?
Reasons for Chewing
Dogs chew or ingest foreign objects for a number 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! Lots of dogs even chew up their own beds!
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. From your furniture, to precious ornaments and bits of paperwork.
This is particularly true with large breeds that can easily reach onto dining room tables or even kitchen countertops!
Some people use anti-chew spray to try and stop this. However, it’s hard to chew-proof every item you own!
My Dog Ate Plastic Due To A Nutritional Deficiency?
The act of eating inedible objects is sometimes called “pica.”
According to the Humane Society of the United States, some dogs (and even cats) may eat non-edible objects because they lack a certain nutrient in their diet.
This has not been proven through scientific studies. But, it’s possibly also why a few species of animals eat their own poo.
For instance, horses chew wood or eat feces when they are lacking nutrients from fresh green grass. This is typically seen during the winter. Rspecially if they are not given high-quality hay.
My Dog Ate Plastic Compulsively?
According to the Merck Veterinary manual, some dogs develop abnormal obsessive behaviors as a method of coping with anxiety or stress. Such as separation-induced anxiety.
They take a normal everyday behavior that they enjoy, like chewing on something or eating. Then, they engage in that behavior obsessively to calm themselves.
For example, some recently weaned puppies (and kittens) will suck on blankets or other soft materials. This is an effort to release the same “feel-good” endorphins that were released when they nursed from their mother.
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 given proper chew toys may chew anything they can get their little chompers on. Smooth, hard plastic may be what 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.
My Dog Ate Plastic Because He Was Hungry?
Some dogs have seemingly bottomless appetites. They look for food everywhere they can find it!
So, if you leave plastic food containers on the counter, full or empty, yiu can bet a hungry dog with a powerful sniffer will notice.
Just ask anyone who has left last night’s takeout or a Tupperware container full of cookies out!
Dog shaming posts can be funny. Plus, some overly anxious or hungry dogs have a reason for seeking something to chew on.
But, a dog ingesting a foreign object is definitely not a laughing matter!
Later in this article, we’ll talk about the varied levels of health hazards possible if a dog swallowed a plastic toy or a dog swallowed plastic bags, for example.
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 stopping your dog 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.
But, when a dog eats plastic and begins choking, shows 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.
Lots of problems can occur if your dog ate plastic. 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. This can cause 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.
So, ingestion of any foreign object has the potential to need surgical intervention.
But I Didn’t See My Dog Eat Plastic…
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.
Even if you’re not sure, and your dog seems okay, it’s always best to call your vet and see what they advise.
So, what do you do if, say, your dog ate 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 mentioned 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. As well as 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, check in his mouth to make sure there are no other pieces he could also swallow. Even if he has already swallowed some, you want to minimize any further damage.
However, only remove them if it is safe to do so without injuring yourself. If not, ask for your vet’s help.
Tell Your Vet
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 to use a 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.
Plus, never induce vomiting in your dog without your vet’s instruction or guidance. It can be very dangerous, and your dog’s safety needs to come first.
Once you’ve determined what your dog has swallowed, and your vet has decided it is safe, they can help you induce vomiting. Your vet may need to use an x-ray or endoscope to find out what object has been swallowed.
My Dog Ate Plastic – It’s Time For Action!
If your dog has ingested a plastic object but doesn’t appear to be in distress yet, we recommend taking the following actions for the next few days. It may take that long for your dog to naturally pass the object.
Immediately following the incident, call your vet to keep them informed of the situation. You can also see if she has a recommended treatment plan.
If you’re worried about constipation due to the foreign object, give your dog a little plain yogurt or pureed pumpkin to help soften her stools.
Make sure that your dog is still eating and drinking normally. If she stops either and/or becomes lethargic, chances are that she’s in pain.
Watch for any sign of digestive upset or abnormal bathroom habits. Refusal to eat or drink, as well as the onset of diarrhea or constipation, signifies a trip to the vet.
My Dog Ate Plastic – How Can I Stop Him Doing It Again?
If your dog ate plastic, you may have gone through the traumatic experience of having a large plastic object surgically removed from your dog’s digestive tract.
Or perhaps you’ve found a particularly interesting pile of poo which contained a small plastic object.
How should you prevent this from happening again?
Here are some steps that you can take to prevent some instances of plastic-eating.
Is your pup bored and found something to chew on (such as a shampoo bottle or other plastic toiletry item) that wasn’t necessarily “just lying around”?
Buy her some of her own chew toys if she doesn’t already have some. If she’s a powerful chewer, make sure that the toys are indestructible.
If she does manage to chew up any of these toys, replace them as they start to fall apart. This should help to stop her from swallowing any smaller pieces that have been torn off.
Use the biggest toy your dog can cope with. This can avoid your pup swallowing the entire thing whole, and can make it harder to destroy.
Food and Trash
Did your dog find an empty or half-empty container of leftover food? Clean out all food dishes that are not going to be put away in the cupboard, refrigerator, or dishwasher. This makes them less likely to smell something tempting.
Is your pooch is a “dumpster driver” that likes to go through the trash (and found the plastic object there)? Get a trash can that has a locking lid or that they cannot get into.
These are simple steps to stop your dog from accessing plastic, but also food that may not be good for your dog!
Does your dog suffers from a compulsive chewing or eating behavior?
She may need some special training to help relieve the stress that induces the anxious behavior.
You can read our article about coping with separation anxiety in Labrador dogs here.
Regardless of your dog’s reason for chewing or eating a plastic or other foreign object, you can train her that picking up non-food objects that aren’t her toys is a big “no-no.”
Head over to our training guides for more help. These can help if you struggle with a dog that eats plastic.
My Dog Ate Plastic
If your dog ate plastic, small or large, there’s a risk that they will become seriously ill in a number of hours or days.
Some objects can be easily passed. Some objects can be passed but not without damage to the inside of your dog’s gut. And some objects stop everything from moving, period.
So, even if your dog ate a small bit of plastic, it’s best that you talk with your vet before taking extra measures.
A dog may pass a small piece of plastic on their own, with no change in their overall demeanor.
But, it takes a few days for a food particle or foreign object to pass from ingestion to defecation.
You may think that your dog is fine initially but be taken by surprise when he becomes ill in 24 to 48 hours. This is why it’s important to act quickly whenever your dog eats plastic.
Take Immediate Action
If your dog ate plastic and becomes ill, it’s best that you take immediate action to ensure the best probable outcome.
A ruptured stomach from a sharp plastic object is nothing to sneeze at!
If you are having problems with your dog chewing or eating inappropriately, you may need to determine the root cause of the behavior before you can completely eliminate the issue.
While you can do your best to put potentially hazardous objects out of your dog’s reach, a determined and anxious pup may find other things with which to relieve her stress.
Tell us About Your Experiences
We hope this article has been helpful. If you’ve had problems when your dog ate plastic, tell us your story in the comments.
What ways did you deal with the problem?
This article has been extensively revised and updated for 2019
- Bogue Animal Hospital, Ack – My Pet Ate Garbage!, 2013
- Humane Society of the United States, Pica: Why Pets Sometimes Eat Strange Objects
- Landsberg, G, Denenberg, S, Behavioral Problems of Dogs, Merck Veterinary Manual
- The Happy Puppy Site
- The Labrador Site
- Ward, E. Ingestion of Foreign Bodies in Dogs, VCA Animal Hospitals