If your dog has eaten a plastic bag the short answer is: call your veterinarian!
The long answer is: it depends!
Let’s face it, you probably don’t want to call your vet when it happens at 11 p.m. on a Sunday.
Your dog ate a plastic bag, can it be so bad?
Actually, there are many things to consider. Your dog may have eaten a small plastic bag without any particular consequences. But maybe he ate such a large portion that you have to worry about his health.
What should you do in both cases? Let’s look at the details below.
What happens when a dog eats a plastic bag?
Many consequences are possible.
Let’s take the size of the dog as an example. Next, find out the size of the plastic that has been eaten. Finally, the amount of plastic that has entered your stomach.
The consequences will vary depending on these factors. Anyway, here are some possible scenarios.
- Choking danger for the dog: The plastic bag is not easy to swallow and can get stuck in the dog’s throat.
- Dogs do not poop. If the pouch gets into your dog’s intestines, it will likely prevent the animal from defecating due to the obstruction.
- Plastic harms your dog: it can damage the mouth, teeth, throat, intestines, stomach, rectum, and even teeth.
- Dog vomiting or drooling: Your dog may instinctively try to get rid of the pouch by vomiting, which will cause him to vomit all the food he has previously eaten.
- Dog food poisoning: If there are chemicals in the bag or substances like chocolate that make your dog sick, you may have to deal with a poisoned pet.
Other than this, it’s hard to know what will happen if your dog eats a plastic bag. As the possibilities are almost endless, the ideal is not to wait for something to happen before calling the vet (he will give you valuable and reliable advice on what to do).
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But at best, and hoping that your dog has only eaten a piece of plastic bag, you can expect your dog to simply have difficulty swallowing and return to his normal life.
Dangerous symptoms to watch out for if your dog has eaten a plastic bag
The things mentioned above are things you can find. But what about the things that should worry you?
What are the things that should make you take your dog to the vet immediately? Here are some things you should keep in mind.
- Constant vomiting. If your dog vomits more than once or twice in a few hours, you should not hesitate to take him to the vet.
- Loss of appetite: If your dog doesn’t want to eat, it’s a sign of an underlying disease that could lead to immediate damage to the stomach or intestinal tract (which might require surgical intervention).
- Lethargy: A sick dog does not want to move. This can also occur if your dog has something internal that causes him harm or discomfort.
- Diarrhea: Loose stools are common when something is causing an obstruction in the intestines.
- Whimper. There’s nothing worse than hearing your dog complain of constipation or discomfort. Then you know it’s time to see the vet.
If these symptoms persist for longer than you think is healthy, don’t hesitate to take your dog to the vet immediately.
What should I do if my dog has eaten a plastic bag?
Below, we’ll provide you with a number of more specific steps you can take after confirming that your dog has eaten a plastic bag.
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Check your dog’s condition
The first step is to measure the degree of discomfort of your dog.
You should focus on the following
- Shortness of breath
- Constant drowning
- Total panic
- Symptoms of increased pain or discomfort
If your dog is too restless, something terrible is happening, and in this case, medical help is almost inevitable.
Your dog may have an internal obstruction that could lead to serious problems if left untreated, you will know what to do (go to a veterinarian immediately).
If your dog isn’t showing any of these symptoms, you can put your mind at ease. It’s probably not a serious problem.
Remove the plastic by hand
Whether your dog is anxious or seems completely calm, it’s important to check his mouth immediately.
If you see plastic, you can remove it immediately. This is not easy, as dogs are reluctant to receive help in this situation (most dogs are reluctant).
In addition, plastic has a tendency to stick. It can be on the roof of the mouth, in the throat or even on the teeth. If possible, you can consider wearing gloves.
In any case, be sure to get rid of the plastic. Be careful when removing plastic. If the plastic is not removed carefully, it can cause damage such as cuts and serious injuries.
Note: If the dog is afraid, it may become aggressive. If this occurs, call the vet and try to solve the problem with the help of someone else. You don’t want him to bite you on the finger.
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Making your dog vomit
This is usually not the best solution, as vomiting can cause discomfort to the dog and, in the worst cases, more serious damage.
Fortunately, this is not mandatory. Even if it’s not recommended, call your veterinarian before doing so.
The most common cause is that your dog has eaten the plastic bag piece by piece instead of whole. If dogs have pieces of plastic bags in their stomachs, they are less likely to damage their throat and intestines by vomiting.
However, this should only be done if you have the green light from a professional. If you try to do it yourself, you can not only scare the dog, but also cause it unnecessary harm.
Check the amount of plastic consumed
Even if you’ve checked your dog and made sure there’s no more plastic in his muzzle, there’s still something in his stomach.
This is where you have to measure how much it is. However, the most important thing is the type of plastic.
Most plastic bags are very thin and break easily. This may not be a problem because your dog won’t eat the whole bag at once. However, if your dog eats a thick plastic bag, you may need to worry a little more.
This is especially true for dogs that have eaten black garbage bags. These bags are less biodegradable, so they take a long time to decompose. And what’s worse, they are dense and difficult to break down, so they can cause problems for the dog.
If you are sure that the packaging is not dangerous (a little paper for example) and your dog will not eat more than he can stand, you should not worry. If not, you can take your dog to the vet.
By the way: if your dog eats more than just the plastic bag (for example, chemicals or metal), it is very important that you go to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
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Contact your veterinarian
When such an accident occurs, nothing is more useful than contacting a professional, immediately.
You probably won’t call your veterinarian until you’re sure your dog isn’t in immediate danger (choking or moaning). The advice you receive will be of great help.
Not only does the veterinarian have more experience and know how to deal with the situation, but he may also know exactly how to proceed. For example, if they have already experienced a similar situation, they will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed so that your dog is not harmed.
These are some of the possible scenarios that may arise in the future
- The dog goes to the vet: The vet will ask you to take him to a clinic where they will examine the plastic parts that could cause serious damage (and remove any doubts).
- Manual removal – After taking your dog to the vet, you may need to remove plastic parts by hand or with special tools.
- Surgery: If your veterinarian discovers that your dog’s intestines or other parts of the digestive system are blocked, he or she may recommend surgery.
- Antibiotics and other medicines. Your veterinarian may recommend certain medications to prevent infections and other problems after your dog has eaten a plastic bag.
- Dietary changes: If the dog doesn’t seem concerned about the situation, it’s likely that he’ll only have problems with bowel movements (for which the vet may recommend a special diet for a while).
In addition to these possibilities, it depends on the specific situation, the breed of the dog and the experience of the veterinarian. However, these are all possible scenarios (sometimes more than one) that you should consider.
Can dogs digest plastic?
You might think that plastic breaks down in their acidic stomachs. But that’s not the case.
Even the thinnest plastic bag takes time to completely decompose. In fact, your dog is more likely to excrete the plastic than digest it.
As your dog does not have any diseases that can affect his digestive or intestinal system, the plastic bag should be out of his body within 10 hours of ingestion.
Reasons why dogs eat plastic bags
No one can say why dogs eat plastic bags. However, we can list the most common reasons for this behavior so you can better control it (and possibly find the real reason behind your dog’s behavior).
Hunger and dissatisfaction
Dogs are hungry animals. Even well-fed dogs will try to eat almost anything as long as it’s tasty. And that includes plastic bags.
If a dog finds something wrapped in a bag while looking for food, he won’t hesitate to eat it either. This is especially true for garbage bags containing food waste. However, this can also occur with food stored or freshly purchased at the supermarket (e.g. meat or dog food in a package).
If your dog has a habit of rummaging through garbage bags, you may need to buy a dogproof bucket to avoid it. Also, do not hesitate to put your work in a training program to avoid a recurrence.
One thing to know: Your dog may also have parasites that make him unhappy with the food you give him. In this case, the ideal would be a visit to the veterinarian.
Boredom and curiosity
Dogs can also get bored from time to time. This occurs when they have not gone for a walk or have been too long in the same closed space in a few weeks.
This occurs most often in energetic dog breeds that have a hard time sitting still, such as Border Collies and Huskies. Their way of unloading and avoiding boredom is to chew objects. Apparently, this can include plastic bags and anything else.
His furniture and kitchen are in danger. Also, when they are bored and lack stimuli, they can eat anything they find, just because it seems good to them.
Important fact: Dogs can become a little unruly when they don’t get love and attention. Don’t leave your dog unattended for a long time. Just like people, they need companionship to feel comfortable. Remember to play with your dog.
Tooth eruption and chewing
Dogs love to bite things. There is no way around it. There’s no doubt: from baby dogs with teddy bears to adults who love to chew on big bones.
To prevent your pet from biting the plastic bags, you should have a toy nearby to bite. Otherwise, you’ll see that your dog will try to play with everything because he needs something to bite on.
Note: Always offer your dog a chewing toy that is large enough that your dog can’t swallow it. You don’t want your dog choking on it.
Anxiety and aggression
Dogs also tend to suffer from anxiety (due to external stress or separation), which sometimes even leads to serious physical disorders such as tremors or uncontrollable fear.
The consequences of anxiety are numerous. A typical side effect is chewing objects and it may be that an innocent plastic bag in the kitchen is the cause of a dog choking.
Sometimes it’s because they feel uncomfortable for other reasons. The way you cope with anxiety or stress may be biting something or being aggressive.
Finally, dogs do not like to be left alone. Separation anxiety causes them to do strange things, such as biting objects that smell like their owners.
You can control your dog’s anxiety by training him and providing companionship, like a cat or other dog.
Useful fact: Dogs tend to eat things from your house to relax, they don’t do it to bother you because you didn’t let them.
How can you prevent your dog from eating plastic bags?
There are many things you can do to prevent your dog from eating plastic bags. Your dog’s motives for doing so will give you an idea of what you need to try.
But since you’re looking for more practical advice, here are some tips for you to keep in mind.
- Buy toys: Buy something your dog can chew and bite whenever he feels like it.
- Find a companion: Don’t leave your dog alone for more than 8-10 hours, as this can lead to anxiety.
- Feed your dog well: Don’t let your dog suffer from lack of nutrition or hunger.
- Walk your dog: Walking your dog can solve many of his problems as it relaxes him and makes him happy.
- Keep an eye on your dog’s health: Don’t forget that dogs can get sick from time to time and this can cause problems. Take your dog to the vet every so often (especially if there is a noticeable change in his behavior).
At the end of the day, it’s about giving your dog the best life possible. We know you’re doing your best, so don’t worry, here you can find what you’re looking for, follow our tips above and it will be much easier.
Have you learned what to do when your dog has eaten a plastic bag? We hope so.
The main conclusion is this: there are as many consequences of your dog eating a plastic bag as there are causes. But no matter what, you can always prevent the problem from escalating by calling your veterinarian and having your dog treated as soon as possible.
And what do you do? It won’t be a big deal to get your dog to help you once he’s eaten a plastic bag. Better still is not to let your dog eat the contents of the bag at all.
Note: This article is a reflection on how I have acted with this problem with my dogs, I am not a veterinarian and that is the person you should go if you have a health problem with your dog.
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