As a pet owner, you would have known by now that a dog will eat things they are not supposed to, no matter how much you train them, it is their instinctive behavior.
Dogs go by the approach of If I see it, I will eat it, and that’s where we need to be careful and alert because the slightest opportunity they get, they will ingest any harmful substance they should not.
One such substance is Styrofoam; when your pooch eats it, it’s a matter of emergency. Styrofoam is used in many things, from cups of coffee to food carriers.
This article will discuss what should be done if your dog eats Styrofoam, how dangerous it is, and how to keep your pet safe.
Let us start the article by knowing what actually is a styrofoam.
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What is Styrofoam?
Styrofoam is a foam made out of solid beads of polystyrene, which is a type of plastic that is mainly used for packaging works. It comes in various sizes and shapes and is used to provide support to a packaged product.
Many toys, including pet toys, couches, dog beds, and bean bags, have Styrofoam inside them. And all these things are the favorite things to chew; if not paid attention to them, they will chew the toys and probably eat some styrofoam which can be harmful.
Some companies use Styrofoam to package a lump of meat. When your pooch sees that a lump of meat comes in those styrofoam trays, cups, and plates, they will want to eat it as it may taste as tastier as meat.
And it is very commonly found everywhere. When you take your canine partner on a jog, keep an eye on them as they may find some on the street and wanna chew it.
What Happens if a Dog Eats Styrofoam?
Like all inedible substances, when a dog eats Styrofoam, smaller pieces tend to digest through the metabolism and excrete through feces in two to three days in small quantities as the digestion happens with no major repercussions.
The risk is always to smaller breed dogs; when their throat, including all other organs and internal systems, is small, Styrofoam gets stuck somewhere in between, resulting in the blockage of guts.
But if a larger piece or a lot of small pieces of Styrofoam is ingested by a dog, irrespective of breed, be it smaller or larger, it will cause a gastrointestinal blockage.
In extreme cases, if a dog’s system is not able to digest the Styrofoam or any plastic-made material, chances are the kidneys and livers will collapse too.
The more it stays in a dog’s system, the more damage it will do, as it will keep on releasing the toxic chemicals that Styrofoam is made of.
Apart from various organ failures, these chemicals released from Styrofoam can have long-term effects like cancer.
My Dog Ate Styrofoam: What Should I Do?
If you are affirmative that your dog has eaten Styrofoam, it is not a good sign and calls for attention. Follow the below instructions to prevent serious health issues.
1. Evaluate the condition
The key here is not to panic and observe your dog if they are breathing abnormally or finding it hard to breathe or if there are any changes in the colour of their gums.
If they appear to be choking, unable to breathe, or gasping, immediately head towards the nearest veterinarian clinic and seek medical help.
Also, check the substance type and the amount ingested by the dog. Note down the styrofoam type, how much the dog ingested, and at what time it was ingested.
2. Call Your Vet
After evaluating your dog’s condition and other things, call your vet and inform them about the incident and other information you have noted.
They will prescribe some medicines if they dimly fit or want to see the dog physically and run tests to check the impact and condition.
Note down the instructions provided by a vet and follow them precisely for the immediate relief of your pooch.
3. Do not Induce Vomiting
A basic mistake people make is trying to induce vomiting if they see their dog eating non-edible substances.
Induced vomiting poses a larger threat, as a significant portion of the ingested Styrofoam may get stuck in the dog’s throat or esophagus.
Choking is also a risk factor for inducing vomiting and should be avoided. Any decision of inducement should be made by a veterinarian.
Refrain from any homemade treatment, and do not do anything you are unsure of. Always let the medical professional do their job. Home-made remedies have often worsened the conditions.
Is Styrofoam Dangerous for all Dogs?
Yes, it is dangerous for dogs to eat or swallow Styrofoam. Many people say it is not toxic and wouldn’t harm the dog, which is not true.
All styrofoams are made from chemicals, and they may not be toxic immediately, but ingesting them always poses a severe health risk for dogs.
The chemicals like polystyrene in Styrofoam can cause mouth irritation or burning of gums, and continuous ingestion can even cause cancer, as the chemicals in styrofoams are very poisonous.
Besides chemical harm, if your furry pet has eaten Styrofoam, it is most likely to cause gastrointestinal or airway blockage.
Choking is also a probable risk and can happen if your dog has eaten a large portion of Styrofoam.
What are the Symptoms of a Blockage in a Dog?
Blockage of the gastrointestinal tract or airways is relatively easy to detect as they show visually visible symptoms.
If your dog is avoiding eating food or is on the verge of vomiting but is not vomiting, it is a clear sign that it is suffering from gastrointestinal blockage or airway blockage.
Any blockage is a serious health risk and should be brought to a vet’s attention immediately.
Diarrhea or constipation is also a visible sign of a blockage. Apart from all this, any irregularities like laziness, drooling, or gasping are a sign they are unwell, and whether you have seen them eat Styrofoam or not, give them medical help as they may be suffering from a health problem.
How can I Stop my Dog From Eating Styrofoam?
Dogs eating Styrofoam is dangerous, as we all can understand its risks from the above topics. Preventing is always the first step in avoiding such incidents.
Always try to pay more attention to puppies and smaller breed of dogs. Puppies love to chew and eat anything they see, especially the things you tell them not to.
And small-sized dogs have a risk as they have small throats and intestines, and swallowing or eating big nonedible substances can be dangerous for them.
Keep Styrofoam away from the pet’s reach, especially trays or packaging in which meat comes in, and throw all into the bins far away from your dog’s reach.
Another way is to buy styrofoam products in which no toxic chemicals are used. As styrofoam companies are evolving their approach and changing the products’ ingredients, ask for a product in which nontoxic styrofoams are used.
In extreme cases, yes. Styrofoam can cause blockages and choking, leading to fatal organ failures and eventually ending their life.
It is possible for dogs to digest Styrofoam which is ingested in small quantities or sizes. But recurring ingestion or small quantity of styrofoams, if ingested, could not be digested, causing severe health problems.
Nothing, no medicines or food should be given to pass styrofoams or any non-edible substances. It’s a job of a veterinarian, and no home remedy should be done as it may only worsen the condition.
Your dog eating Styrofoam is always a troubling situation. This article provides every detail about Styrofoam and what happens if a dog eats a styrofoam, and what you should do if anything like this happens.
Remember to be calm in this situation as your dog follows you, and calming them is the best you can do. Take this article as a guide to determine your next steps and also to prevent this scenario from happening again.
Till then, happy petting.
Dr. Lillian is a D.V.M. passionate about promoting awareness of dogs. She shares her expertise through her blogs on canineweekly.com and provides animal care services, including internal medicine, dermatology, and emergency care. Dr. Lillian is committed to contributing to animal welfare.