Help! My dog ate plastic bags! What do I do?

dog ate plastic bag
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Sometimes it seems like dogs just can’t help themselves! They’re always eating stuff that they aren’t supposed to, much to the dismay of pet parents. In today’s Q&A, we’ll be talking about what to for the dreaded “dog ate plastic bag” search query!

Will my dog pass the plastic bag on his own?

dog ate plastic bag

There is a possibility that this will happen, particularly if it was a very small bag. However, this is not always the case and there can be complications.

For example, it’s possible for the bag to get stuck on the way down!

In this case, your dog may try to throw up the bag, but it could also restrict their airways if they can’t get it back up.

Be sure that you keep a very close eye on your dog to make sure that they aren’t having any trouble breathing.

If the plastic bag makes its part way back out of their throat, then you may need to step in and help get it all the way out if it’s visible! Look for signs of distress like difficulty breathing or constant dry heaving.

What about if the plastic bag comes out the other end?

In some cases, the plastic bag may come out the appropriate end. However, an intestinal blockage is not unheard of. If you intend to wait and see if your dog passes the bag, then you need to watch them very, very closely.

If your dog seems to be having trouble going to the bathroom then it’s time to go to the vet! It’s possible that your dog could have an impaction caused by the bag blocking their normal bodily functions. However, there are other dangers as well. A blockage in the intestines or stomach can cut off the blood supply, causing a plethora of very dangerous issues.

In general, it should take 10-24 hours for the plastic bag to pass through your dog’s intestines and exit the body. If you intend to wait it out, then make sure you’re keeping tabs on your dog and looking for it.

When do I need to go to the vet?

We would recommend, at the very least, calling your vet for their opinion on the issue. They can give you advice which specifically fits your circumstances and let you know if your dog is in danger.

It’s far better to go early and potentially have the vet induce vomiting to remove the bag then to wait until your dog requires surgery. Removable of a foreign body is one of the most common issues that vets encounter.

Fortunately, plastic bags are at least soft, so they don’t carry the risk of slicing up your dog’s insides like a sharp plastic toy would. However, they can still be dangerous, so be careful.

If you’ve noticed your dog vomiting but nothing has come up, or that they are exhibiting abdominal pain, then you should seek veterinary help. Their issue could be very serious and waiting will only make it worse for them.

How do you know if your dog is experiencing abdominal pain? Gently feel around their stomach, or even try picking them up, it’s likely you’ll hear a yelp or they will pull away, indicating discomfort.

What to do to prepare for next time

Don’t think that your dog won’t do this again, because he will. Dogs don’t know that objects are dangerous, and they will eat them repeatedly! This means you’ll need to make it a habit to prevent your pup’s access to plastic bags.

Make sure cabinets are always closed, get baby proof locks if you have to, and make sure that the trash can is out of reach at all times. Placing it in an under sink cabinet or in a closet is your best bet. Otherwise, you can expect a repeat of this experience.

Michelle Rei
Michelle Rei
Michelle is a pet parent turned amateur pet product researcher. After adopting a fur baby with digestive issues caused by bad pet food, she's poured hundreds of hours into research to find the best of the best to help him and other pets live happier and healthier lives.
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