12 min

Dog Ate Plastic? What To Do & When To Worry

Some dogs just seem to get into everything. If your dog has eaten plastic and you need to know what to do, learn how to proceed here.

Bridget Reed

Updated December 21, 2021 • Published December 08, 2021

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Dog Ate Plastic? What To Do & When To Worry

With their keen sense of smell and adventurous, curious attitude, it’s natural that sometimes dogs get into items that they’re not supposed to. However, when the item that your dog finds could be potentially hazardous and lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and other unsavory symptoms, it can make for an extremely stressful situation. 

In even more dire cases, the objects that your dog erroneously consumes could lead to real problems with their insides or intestines. That’s why being a diligent pet owner is essential, and being conscientious about what your dog is snacking on is essential. That is why it is best to phase out certain plastics in a pet-friendly home. 

Plastic is the most numerous man-made product. There are plenty of opportunities for our canine companions to accidentally snag and eat some plastic. Of course, if this happens, you’re likely panicking and do not know how to proceed. This is your ultimate guide on what to do if your dog ate plastic.

While it’s extremely difficult to refrain from panicking, it’s essential that you attempt to do so. When you panic, your dog will follow suit. If possible, maintain your cool and think as tactically as possible regarding how you are going to seek help for your pet.

Today, you are going to learn everything that you need to know about what to do if your dog consumes plastic.

To begin, you will learn more about what happens to your pet physically if they ate plastic and the dangers that sharp plastics represent. After that, you will get your questions answered about what you should do in such a situation and learn more about what your vet’s likely plan to help will be.

Continue reading to learn more.

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What happens when a dog eats plastic bags?

Unfortunately, if your dog ate a plastic bag, you will have to intervene to help ensure that they will be okay. There are several adverse symptoms that can occur if your dog ate a plastic bag. It’s important to learn about these to understand why rapid intervention to help ensure your pet’s safety is necessary.

Here is what could potentially happen when your dog consumes a plastic bag. 

Airway obstruction

The first potential risk is airway obstruction. This could be hazardous as it could make it extremely difficult for your dog to breathe. If you fear that your pet is experiencing this after they ate a plastic bag, you should reach out to your vet immediately.

They will know how to help your pet and will likely stress how rapidly the situation needs to be addressed to increase your animal’s chances of making a full recovery.

Esophageal injury

Next, esophageal injury is also a risk for pets that have consumed a plastic bag. The esophagus is an important organ for your pet because it carries their food from their mouth all the way to the stomach.

When the esophagus sustains an injury, that limits its ability to successfully execute its job. There are several treatment options for an esophageal injury, but again, it’s essential that you bring your dog to the vet in a timely manner. 

Stomach blockage

If your dog got their paws on a plastic bag, they are also at risk for a stomach blockage. This could be hazardous as a blockage prevents your pet’s stomach from functioning normally.

Ultimately, this could lead to other significant problems for your pet. If you are concerned that they consumed something they were not supposed to eat and have a stomach blockage, as a result, seek prompt medical attention. 

What about when a dog eats sharp plastic?

A plastic bag certainly can be hazardous for your pet, and unfortunately, if they get their paws on sharp plastic, this material might pose an immediate danger as well. Sharp plastic could actually lead to several adverse reactions for your dog. 

Sharp plastic can be pointed, rough, or jagged and, therefore, could lead to tears. If your dog consumed sharp plastic, they are at risk for experiencing mouth lacerations, internal bleeding, and even a digestive obstruction.

Continue reading to learn more about why sharp plastic can be extremely hazardous for your animal. 

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Mouth lacerations

Plastic is able to be swallowed by animals, and when it is, this could lead to a slew of potential problems. One of these includes mouth lacerations. Cuts in your pet’s mouth are extremely uncomfortable for them to experience.

Sharp plastic could easily cut your dog’s delicate gums and lead to mouth lacerations that are frustrating and painful to heal. It’s best to avoid plastic to ensure no lacerations occur. 

Internal bleeding

Because of the sharp, pointed nature of this type of plastic, internal bleeding is possible if your dog ingests a piece of this plastic. Because internal bleeding occurs inside of your pet’s body, you will have to observe external symptoms to figure out if they are bleeding internally. After, take appropriate action to help your pet. 

Digestive obstruction

Digestive obstructions can be extremely dangerous for pets. If you worry that your pet might have a digestive obstruction, you should immediately reach out to a vet. You could infer this based on their inability to pass anything through their digestive system

Pawp veterinarian Dr. Sylvalyn Hammond also shares that your dog’s size comes into play when you are considering if they could have digestive obstruction as a result of plastic consumption.

Dr. Hammond says, “Smaller dogs are more likely to experience gastrointestinal damage and/or blockage from plastic ingestion than large dogs since their organs are narrower.” 

So, what should I do if my dog ate plastic?

If your dog ate plastic, you might be unsure what your next steps are. Remember to resist panicking if you are able to, because dogs are able to perceive their owners’ emotions and can respond to your anxiety with more stress of their own. There’s one important step you should take if you find out that your dog ate plastic.

Follow these critical action items:

Talk to a vet ASAP

The most important thing that you can do is talk to a vet as soon as possible. They will be able to work with you to help figure out what the appropriate treatment is to help your pet get back on track with your health. 

What will the vet do?

Once you bring your pet to the vet to get treated for consuming plastic, your vet will likely proceed with one of these steps.

Your vet has years of experience helping pets that accidentally ate items they weren’t supposed to, which is why it’s so important to bring your pet in as soon as possible. 

They might monitor your dog

If they do not believe that the situation is that dire, the vets will monitor your pet to ensure that no new symptoms pop up. This will likely be your vet’s approach if the pieces of plastic that your dog ate are likely passable or not worryingly sharp. 

They might perform an x-ray

An x-ray can be helpful in deciphering the extent of the situation. For instance, an x-ray can help the vet figure out if the plastic poses a severe risk for your pet or if they will likely be able to pass it themselves. 

They might induce vomiting

In some cases, your vet might believe that inducing vomiting is the best way to remove the plastic from your pet’s body. Again, this depends on the size and sharpness of the plastic, so it will vary on a case-by-case basis. 

They might suggest surgery

Unfortunately, if your pet has a severe digestive obstruction that is prohibiting their digestive system from functioning as normal, surgery will be suggested.

This is in a more dire situation. It’s possible that surgery will be needed depending on the size of your dog, the size of the plastic that they consumed. 

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Loving, careful care

If you have any questions about what to do if your dog ate plastic, you can always contact Pawp and their team of veterinarians. They’re experienced and know how to help advise you on what your next steps should be to ensure your pet’s safety.

Pawp’s vets are available 24/7 for telehealth visits, and there’s never a wait or appointment necessary. It’s a win for you and your pet. 


Abnormal Eating Habits in Dogs | Animal Health Topics | UCDavis School of Veterinary Medicine  

Virtual Microscope - Dog Esophagus | RIT  

Benign Obstructions | UC Davis Interventional Radiology / School of Veterinary Medicine  

Diagnostic and therapeutic approach to upper airway obstructions |University of Illinois 

Digestive System of the Dog | WSU  

Trash or Treasure: Keeping Your Pets Healthy | Oklahoma State  

Small Animal Imaging | UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine  

Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made | NCBI

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