Help! My Dog Ate A Toy!

Here’s when it’s a problem 😬

dog eating a ball

Ever feel a complete sense of panic after watching your dog chew off and swallow a piece of a toy?

Your brain probably went into hyperdrive, wondering if your BFF just wound up in an emergency situation.

The Dodo spoke with Kirsten Butler, a vet tech and practice manager at the Center For Animal Wellness in Denver, Colorado, to find out whether or not you should be totally freaking out right now.

What happens if your dog eats a toy

If your dog is a heavy chewer, he can probably tear a toy to shreds in a matter of minutes, and the more he rips it up, the more likely he is to accidentally swallow something during playtime.

Luckily, it’s not always an issue.

“If chewed up into small enough pieces, a toy may be able to pass through the intestinal tract with the pet’s stool,” Butler told The Dodo.

But if the pieces are bigger, it could turn into a surgical emergency.

Foreign objects in the [gastrointestinal] tract can cause irritation and, in the worst cases, obstruction requiring surgical removal,” Butler explained.

Signs your dog has a GI obstruction include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of those symptoms, contact your vet right away.

“Your vet will need an X-ray or ultrasound to diagnose a blockage,” Butler said.

How different toys affect your dog if he eats them

“[The] type of toy swallowed does make a difference,” Butler explained.

Basically, chew toys made with different materials will have different effects on your dog.

Hard bones may splinter and cause damage to the GI tract as they pass through,” Butler said.

If your pup swallowed part of a fabric or rope toy, this can result in linear foreign body, which is a medical emergency.

“If frayed, and part of the rope gets stuck while the rest of it tries to move on,” Butler explained, “this can cause intussusception, where the intestines start collapsing onto themselves.”

Since it can be tough to tell if your pet’s toy will simply pass through his system or pose a more serious problem, you should hit up your vet pretty much anytime he swallows something he shouldn’t, just to be safe.

How to keep your dog from eating toys

The most important thing to do is always keep an eye on your pup while he’s playing with any toy.

“The best advice is to monitor your dog while chewing on toys,” Butler said.

That way, if you catch him with a piece of a toy in his mouth, you can fish it out before he actually swallows it.

And if you aren’t quite quick enough, you’ll at least be able to call your vet right away, instead of once you start noticing signs that your pup isn’t feeling too hot.

There are also toys out there designed specifically for heavy chewers that should (hopefully) keep your dog from destroying them and getting himself into this situation in the first place.

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