Plastic is everywhere nowadays, from common everyday objects to the packaging of the food we eat. So, it almost goes without saying that sooner or later your dog will eat plastic and it will be important to know how to behave when that happens.
If your dog ate a small piece of plastic, nothing will likely happen as long as it isn’t pointed. In some cases, however, the ingestion of a lot of plastic (forks, bottles, plastic caps, toys, etc …) can be very dangerous and can be considered a medical emergency.
What can happen if your dog eats plastic?
When a dog eats a piece of plastic, the situation is usually simple: either it is a medical emergency or it is a “wait and see” situation.
If your dog may have eaten hard plastic and is having trouble breathing. The first thing you can do if your dog has breathing difficulties is to try the Heimlich maneuver on It, as it may be too late to take It to the vet. If the dog overcomes the crisis, take It to the vet anyway.
If It experiences symptoms such as abdominal pain, vomiting, drowsiness, and complaining, go straight to the vet It probably has had a gastrointestinal block that could only be resolved by surgery.
If your dog is fine and there are no signs of choking and gastrointestinal obstruction, It may have ingested something small and may pass on its own. Again, the best thing to do is to warn the vet.
Usually, it’s not hard to know if a dog has bitten into plastic objects because there will be pieces scattered across the floor. Maybe a nice sandwich wrapped in plastic left on the table or the pieces of Legos left on the floor that in the eyes of a dog are a temptation. Remember that many dogs chew plastic as they would their toys. For them, it is nothing more than a pastime and entertainment.
If your dog has eaten a plastic bag or something thin and soft, it may not be necessary to go to the vet right away. Here are some questions you will be asked:
- What kind of item did your dog eat?
- What did the plastic container contain?
- How much did It eat?
- How long ago did It eat it?
- How old is your dog and what breed is it?
- How much does it weigh?
- Does It show symptoms of pain or discomfort after eating plastic?
- Does It eat and drink normally?
- Did It throw up or poop? Was there any plastic in it?
- Does it show a strange behavior?
If your dog has gnawed on a plastic bottle or container that contained potentially dangerous food or liquids, you will be asked to go to the clinic right away.
Sometimes dogs may even pass by an open plastic garbage bag, where they can often find dangerous foods such as corn cobs, coffee grounds, or banana peels. Or they might chew bottles with detergents or hygiene products like toothpaste.
These should be considered as medical emergencies because your dog is at risk of intoxication and/or poisoning, as well as an obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract.
Unless your dog eats sharp plastic or harmful foods like the ones mentioned above, your vet may calm you down and tell you to simply monitor Its behavior until the plastic is expelled with the stool. If the plastic doesn’t come out and your dog’s condition worsens, take It to the vet.
Sometimes the symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage don’t show up immediately and if the plastic has caused some internal damage, it may take a few days for your dog to develop the first symptoms.
What should NOT be done if the dog has ingested plastic?
One thing to avoid if your dog eats plastic items is inducing vomiting at home. This procedure is typically used by veterinarians when it comes to dangerous ingestions, but it carries some risks.
If your dog has eaten sharp plastic (knives, forks, etc …) or hard plastic, there is a possibility that the pieces will injure the stomach and esophagus, so it is best NOT to induce vomiting unless it has been the vet to ask you.
Why do dogs eat plastic?
Dogs are usually attracted to the smell and texture, so it may be that a plastic smelled seductive to them, or the container itself was quite intriguing to chew on.
Sometimes, a dog that eats plastic is a subtle call for help. In fact, there are some conditions that could prompt dogs to eat plastic or other inedible materials for various reasons, including pica. Pica is a psychological disease that makes dogs unable to resist the urge to eat inedible objects such as wood, paper, rubber, or even strange materials such as plaster on walls.
There is no single cause behind pica and each case is different. Sometimes these weird cravings can be due to a deficiency in the dog’s diet that you are unaware of, sometimes it can be the consequence of a behavioral problem. We remind you that dogs can suffer from depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders just like us, and pica is sometimes the most obvious symptom of your dog’s suffering
Can Dogs Digest Plastic?
No, they can’t. The acids in a dog’s stomach are very strong, but the plastic is impossible to digest and even if your dog manages to excrete it, it will come out exactly as it came in.
Since there are different types of plastics and plastic products, it is difficult to tell what might happen if a dog eats plastic. ItHe can often suffer from gastrointestinal upset, but sometimes it can get much worse.
Hence, plastic can be very dangerous for dogs, and you need to keep it away from It. Of course, accidents are always around the corner! But, if your dog has eaten plastic or even if you suspect it has, consult your vet right away.