What to Do When Your Dog Eats a Plastic Bag (Urgent Action Needed)

Dog Ate Plastic Bag

Call or take your dog to the vet RIGHT NOW. There are many things that can go wrong when a dog accidentally eats a plastic bag. It doesn’t matter if your dog ate the plastic bag as a whole or in torn pieces. The faster you take the dog to the vet, the lesser the chances of complications.

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Plastic Bag?

Not every dog-eating-plastic-bag situation can be classed as an immediate emergency but you don’t want to leave it to chance. A number of things can happen when a dog eats a plastic bag.

In the best-case scenario, the plastic bag is small enough to pass through the dog’s digestive tract and eventually come out the other end. In the worst-case scenario, the plastic bag will cause a partial or full blockage of the dog’s digestive system.

The medical treatment required for a plastic bag blockage may differ based on a number of factors such as the location of the blockage. The vet may conduct a number of examinations (e.g. X-Ray, endoscopy, ultrasound) on your dog to identify the location of the obstruction.

One potential treatment that may be required is an intestinal blockage surgery. This surgery is major in the sense that the dog will need to go under anesthesia and be hospitalized for a few days post-surgery. Unfortunately, this surgery is expensive and will most likely cost a few thousands dollar.

Another immediate solution is to try and have your dog throw up the plastic bag. We, however, strongly discourage you from doing this unless the vet gives you the green light to do so. Trying to get your dog to throw up the plastic bag may actually lead to more harm than good.

Symptoms of Blockage in a Dog’s Stomach

What if the dog ate the plastic bag while you weren’t looking? Here are some symptoms to look out for that may indicate a blockage in the dog’s stomach.

  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inability to poop
  • Lethargic movement
  • Diarrhea or loose stools
  • Signs of abdominal pain

If your dog starts to show any of the above symptoms then we highly recommend giving the vet a call to receive guidance on what to do next.

How Long Does it Take for a Dog to Digest Plastic?

Dogs can’t digest plastic but if the plastic bag is small enough then it may very well pass on and appear when the dog defecates. According to American Kennel Club, it should take under ten hours in normal circumstances for food to transit from the mouth to the large intestines. With plastic bags, it will potentially take longer since it is an indigestible object.

Why do Dogs Eat Plastic Bags?

There’s no definite answer as to why dogs eat plastic bags or foreign objects in general. What we do know is that dogs are very curious animals and their curiosity can get the best of them at times.

Another possible reason might have to do with pica, an eating disorder which involves a dog eating something that isn’t typically thought of as food. According to PetMD, one possible cause for pica is nutritional deficiency. If you haven’t been feeding your dog a well-balanced diet then here’s a chance to change that so that the dog no longer has the urge to consume foreign objects to satisfy his appetite.

Is there a Cure for Pica in Dogs?

Unfortunately, treating pica isn’t as straightforward as giving the dog medication. If the eating disorder arises due to behavioral issues then your dog may need a lifestyle change in order for pica to go away. For example, one recommendation a vet may offer is to increase the amount of physical activities your dog gets.

There are far too many stressed dogs out there that don’t get the amount of physical (and mental) exercise needed to lead a healthy lifestyle. Making sure your dog gets the appropriate amount of exercise can help resolve many behavioral issues, such as pica and excessive barking.

Pica may also arise due to an underlying medical condition or disease. In this case, you will need to consult with the vet to determine a treatment (and dietary) plan that is appropriate for your pet.

Disclaimer: The content on MyPetChild.com is for informational purpose only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinarian advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian when in doubt.

6 Comments

  1. Candy W September 2, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    My catahoula Leopard Dog ate a plastic Walmart bag with some chicken bones. She threw up this morning and this evening. She had had loose bowels too, this evening there was a point when she went out and seem to not do a thing. The she went went out after her dinner and it wasn’t. She is still eating good but she is a at-large dog can she pass this object?

  2. Dylan Peterson September 23, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    It’s good to know that you shouldn’t leave anything to chance if your dog eats a plastic bag. My dog recently ate a plastic bag, and he seems fine, but I want to be sure. I’ll be sure to take him to the vet to make sure that he’s okay.

  3. Kirsten December 26, 2019 at 8:56 am

    My brother’s husky ate/swallowed a quart sized siding Ziploc bag from the trash on Christmas day. That for sure would not pass through his system and dogs cannot digest plastic. We brought him to our emergency vet immediately. In case you didn’t know, waiting a few hours to see if the dog pukes it up on his own is not advisable because that is when the object will enter the small intestine and require surgery in most cases. We were able to get his stomach pumped. Not an experience I ever want again. The process starts by the vet laying down paper on the floor, giving you a door bell, and you putting an opiate drop in each of the dog’s eyes, waiting ten minutes as you Heimlich maneuver the dog’s stomach as its in a standing position. While that is happening, someone should hold the leash to prevent the dog from moving. As soon as the dog vomits, you ring the door bell. If not vomiting within 10 minutes, you ring the door bell and the entire process is repeated until successful. I think it can be repeated only about 3 times before the dog requires a endoscopy to view the stomach contents. Then it will be determined if the object can be pulled out at that time or if surgery is required to remove it from the intestines. Stomach pumping is ~$179.00. Endoscopy is ~$2,500.00. Surgery of course is much more expensive. We got lucky and the plastic bag came up within the first +/- 7 minutes of pumping his stomach. It came out rolled up in a tube shape and thus it would have been very easy for it to have gotten wedged in his intestines creating a blockage if we had waited a few hours.

  4. Christopher October 15, 2020 at 5:49 pm

    I think this is precisely what is happening to my dog. It ate plastic. I noticed it in itz poo. Itz loosing appetite. I notice it is backing more at night. It seems to loose weight! I admit I haven’t been walking it too often.

  5. Shyam Prasad S December 1, 2020 at 2:07 am

    My dog eat plastic bag it was white egg piece was there so

  6. Kesh June 21, 2021 at 8:26 am

    Hi All. Just wanted to post my recent experience with my 1.5 year old Dacshund male. He ate an entire plastic sandwich bag (200mm×100mm). He ate the plastic bag early in the morning and was okay for most part of the evening and night but he started eating a lot of grass. Day 2 was constant nausea and vomiting. We took him to the vet who treated him for the symptoms as they didn’t want to do invasive surgery straight away as the x-rays and scans showed no blockage or gas build up. They treated him with pain killers and antibiotics to prevent infections. Day 3 was similar, another vet follow up visit along with more injections. He did start eating food during the evening. Day 4 he ate normally although a much reduced portion as recommended by our vet. Day 5 he pooped out the plastic with our help. I guess this is a success story as there was no blockages and he didn’t require surgery. Thank you all for sharing your stories and opinions!

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