Dog Chewed and Swallowed a Plastic Bag – What to Do Next
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? Common symptoms to look out for that may indicate a blockage in the dog’s stomach include vomiting, inability to poop, lethargic movements, diarrhea and loose stools, and 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.