Dog Ate Plastic Wrap…and Other Household Items Dangerous to Dogs
Imagine having to make an emergency trip to the vet because your dog ate plastic wrap or a sock!
Everyone who gets a dog or cat soon learns that a certain amount of vigilance goes with pet ownership. Puppies and kittens especially can get into everything and escape through the tiniest opening.
Some of the better-known dangers are toxic plants and food.
But, do you know about the other dangers that might lurk in your home and garden? From the bathroom and laundry room to the office, kitchen, garage and even the great outdoors, there are some expected and unexpected hazards your pet might face including saran wrap, foil, toys, and chemicals.
There are things in every dog owner’s environment that pose serious risk, possible injury and death to their dog. The problem is that most dog owners don’t even realize it!
There is good news. First, a lot of these potential dangers are things your pet will probably ignore. You can easily take care of most of these potential problems. Some of the rules are simply common sense:
Keep small objects and items that can be easily eaten or swallowed out of their way.
As for other dangers, just look around from your pet’s point of view and see what might be tempting and troublesome. Consider pet-proofing your home to be much like baby-proofing; you’re simply making sure that pets and possible problems don’t mix.
Doggie Dangers Around Your House
#7. Plastic Bags and Plastic Wrap
Just like these items can suffocate your baby, they can also suffocate your dog.
The difference is that we keep these items away from our babies and toddlers, but we don’t really think about the risk that they pose to our dogs.
You unwrap that steak from its saran wrap and absorbent plastic pad, or you take it from the freezer bag and you toss those items into the trash.
Then your dog wanders past the trash and smells the odor of red meat radiating from the plastic.
Dogs don’t understand what “plastic” is and that it is not actually the steak or meat or fish that was once tucked inside. Often, they devour the saran wrap because their nose and senses can literally taste the meat that was once there… Not only can the plastic saran wrap suffocate your dog if they inhale it and it gets stuck in their windpipe/esophagus area, plastic can also get stuck in the stomach or intestines requiring surgical removal.
When I throw away saran wrap or other plastic from meats and other foods, I take those pieces of garbage outside right away so that there is no opportunity for my dog to make this fatal mistake.
Aluminum foil can be just as deadly. It can block off your dog’s trachea, cutting off airflow so that your dog will suffocate. Not only this, but unlike saran wrap, aluminum foil has sharp edges, so it can also scratch up your dog’s trachea. Even if it’s swallowed and your dog manages not to choke, expect damage to the stomach and digestive tract.
#6. Children’s Toys
Children’s toys come in all shapes and sizes! And, in my opinion, it is nearly impossible to differentiate a child’s toy from a dog toy, especially for your dog!
Typically, children’s toys are the ones made in “pocket size”. Actually, I LOVED these kinds of toys when I was a child. They were toys I could hide in my palm and in my pockets and take everywhere with me.
The problem happens when a dog steals these toys and begins playing with them, these toys can be tossed and easily choked on. Pieces can also be chewed and ingested causing bowel obstruction. It is critical to help your children understand that their toys need to be put up in safe places or the dog needs to be shut out of their room, in order to keep everyone safe.
Rocks pose another danger. Unfortunately, I have seen dogs euthanized because they have swallowed rocks on multiple occasions.
Dogs, like people, can suffer from PICA which is characterized by a desire to consume non-nutritive substances. However, most often this disorder develops from boredom.
People landscape their yards with large, decorative rocks. And a dog left outside for too long can learn to grab, toss and play with those rocks, ultimately consuming them, intentionally or unintentionally.
The first kennel I worked at, on my first day, a 2 year old Labrador Retriever was being euthanized because he had swallowed his 4th large rock. The owners opted for bowel obstruction surgery the first three times, but on the 4th they simply opted to euthanize their dog.
I have never gotten over how sad it is that training and complete avoidance was never used.
Don’t leave your dog outside long enough to figure out how fun it is to play with large rocks.
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Sticks are another danger that most dog owners don’t realize!
Not only can a dog choke on a stick or pieces of sticks.
Splinters from these sticks, if chewed on, can lodge in the back of the dog’s mouth and throat and cause abscesses!
Don’t play with sticks!
Get your dog an appropriate toy to play with and toss!
#3. Bones, Rawhides and Other Chewable Edibles
Dogs are voracious!
They often think with their stomachs...and they're not dreaming of vegetables!
Some dogs will scarf down their food extremely quickly, only to be vomiting it up later because they ate too much too quickly or ate something that they shouldn’t.
An impulsive, ravenous chewer can break and splinter objects made for “chewing” into smaller but still large objects that can easily pose a choking danger.
Unfortunately, I have seen my own dogs chew an item (like a rawhide) swallow and regurgitate it because the object was too big to swallow.
This is terrifying.
And, sometimes they can’t easily regurgitate it or bring it back up. Vomiting sometimes isn’t possible.
If I allow my dogs to chew on certain items, I make sure they are very large and I take them away when they become too small.
I never want to risk that my dog could choke on something that I had given him to chew on!
#2. Xylitol, Gum, Peanut-butter
Xylitol is toxic to dogs! How many of you, reading this article have some sugar free gum in your purse?
I bet a few of you have Peanut Butter sweetened with xylitol in your pantry.
A small amount is all it takes to put your dog in a coma or cause death.
30 minutes is all it takes, and in some instances only one piece of gum.
I have outlawed all sugar-free gum or sweeteners in my household. It simply is not worth the risk. I’m sticking with sugar!
Balls kill dogs every day! I see big dogs all the time that are playing with balls that are much too small.
Pick up a tennis ball and put it near your dog’s trachea. Chances are, if you have a big dog, the tennis ball is just barely bigger than their windpipe or the outside size of their neck.
Now imagine your dog, jumping through the air, mouth open getting ready to snatch the ball out of the sky.
If the dog snatches, and breathes in he can literally suck the ball down into his windpipe.
And, once it is down far enough it will need to be surgically removed, if you can make it to an emergency clinic in time!
Recently, my niece and nephew have become obsessed with baseball and so the backyard is littered with baseballs.
I have noticed how dangerous a baseball is without it’s cover! So many strings to choke on or cause an obstruction.
Thankfully, in this day and age, dog toys and dog balls come in all shapes and sizes.
Big dogs can play with large balls that are too big to cause choking.
I always tell my clients, when in doubt GO BIG!
I would much rather my dog struggle to get the ball in her mouth than risk aspiration and death because she accidentally inhaled her favorite toy that was too small!
Pet Proofing Your Home
You can easily take care of most of these potential problems. Some of the rules are simply common sense: Keep small objects and items that can be easily eaten or swallowed out of their way.
As for other dangers, just look around from your pet’s point of view and see what might be tempting and troublesome.
Consider pet-proofing your home to be much like baby-proofing; you’re simply making sure that pets and possible problems don’t mix to create a goulash of injuries, tragedy, and expensive trips to the veterinarian.
Also remember, while dogs may seem to be more trouble-prone than cats, cats can get into far more — and higher — spaces in your home.
There’s even a bonus to these precautions: a tidier house.
Storing things safely away after using them also turns out to be much easier than coaxing them away from a pet determined to destroy them, or even worse, making an emergency trip to the vet.
And it will leave you with much more room for you and your pet to play with the things that are safe.
Dog-Proofing Your Bedrooms
Aside from the danger of a puppy’s chewing on your good shoes, bedrooms are generally fairly benign when it comes to pet danger. But to be on the safe side, keep jewelry, hair clips, pins and bands away from exploring pets.
One potential serious hazard, though, is mothballs. They’re toxic, so if you use them, be sure they’re in a place your pet absolutely can’t reach.
These are storage areas for lots of things, including things that can be a problem if your pets get into them.
The simple solution is to keep things like pesticides, gasoline, solvents, antifreeze, coolants and oils either high up or in a closed cabinet.
The same is true for small things, like screws, nuts, bolts and nails, otherwise you may have to call the vet. And then you get to explain to your spouse that you have to pay a whole paycheck’s sum of money because you left a screw on the floor. Yay!
If you live in a snowy climate, be aware that deicing compounds may also contain dangerous chemicals, so look for ones that are safe for pets.
Living Rooms and High-Traffic Areas
There generally aren’t too many dangers lurking in these rooms, but there are a few possible trouble spots.
The fireplace is a big one; pets can be harmed by flames and flying ashes. A simple screen is probably all you need.
Another overlooked danger is fire-starter sticks. They’re somewhat sweet, and some dogs can’t resist eating them.
Wires and cords can also be a problem; chewing on a plugged-in cord can electrocute a pet.
Tucking cords away or covering them will keep them out of your pet’s way and also will leave your room looking neater.
As a general precaution, put anything you value or anything that’s a chewing or choking hazard (puzzle pieces, small toys and so on) out of reach when you’re not around. Open doors and windows are great for letting in fresh air, but not great if they tempt your animal out into a world of cars and other dangers.
Be sure that if pets can get out, they’ll be heading into a safe place, such as a fenced yard. Otherwise, screens are a great compromise. You can even find ones that are almost invisible.
Puppy-Proofing Your Kitchen
Food is, of course, the most common kitchen-related problem.
The best-known problem food is probably chocolate, but other possibly toxic foods include avocados, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, onions, garlic and coffee.
Other things to watch out for are sharp knives and little things like twist ties that can easily be swallowed.
You may want to install a door or gate to keep animals out of the kitchen while you’re cooking. If it looks as nice as this, it’s a bonus.
Laundry Rooms, Bathrooms, and Powder Rooms
Some hazards are obvious: cleansers, detergents, fabric softeners, bleach, medications, vitamins and even dental floss can all be dangerous if eaten or swallowed.
Dogs in particular may be tempted to chew on, and potentially swallow, towels and stray socks (and you were blaming the dryer for eating them), which can lead to severe gastrointestinal problems.
Just as food in the kitchen can be a problem for pets, so can plants in the garden.
Compost, cocoa-based mulches, pesticides, insecticides, fertilizers and other garden chemicals can all cause problems for pets. Your first line of defense is keeping things stored away safely and out of reach.
Traditional snail and slug bait is also toxic. If you need to keep your vegetables and other plants safe from these marauders, look for barrier methods or pet-friendly bait formulations.
Balconies may seem safe, but it’s easy for small pets to slip through the railings or get stuck halfway. Of course, it also would be hard to resist this railing, even if your cat could get over or around it.
Be sure latticework is in good repair as well, so pets won’t get stuck or crawl into spaces where they shouldn’t go.
Just as fireplaces can be a danger indoors, ashes and flames from fire pits and barbecues can be hazardous. Keep an eye on both the fire and your pets, and if you’re barbecuing, keep the lighter fluid out of reach.
Chemicals are an obvious source of trouble if pets drink from pools and spas, but there are other dangers as well. Even if pets can swim, they can still drown in pools and spas if they can’t get out. Long, low steps may help, but your best approach is to keep pets away from the water, either with covers or fencing or by keeping them inside unless accompanied.
As with pools and spas, ponds might pose a problem if a pet falls in and can’t get out. A sloping side to a pond will provide better footing and give your pond a more natural look.
Ponds are also prone to forming algae, which may be toxic by itself or because of the chemicals added to destroy it.
How to Tell if Your Dog Ate Something That it Shouldn’t
Any sudden onset of choking that affects respiration should be dealt with immediately.
Signs of intestinal or digestive discomfort (typically in the form of vomiting and possibly diarrhea) will require investigation.
Step one is searching for missing objects that your dog may have swallowed.
Step two is visiting your veterinarian to verify that your dog swallowed the missing object.
If you are unsure whether your dog could have ingested something, it is best to be cautious and visit your veterinarian. Left untreated, swallowed objects can be fatal.
Always remember to contact the vet if you think something is wrong or that your dog may be in danger. In some emergencies, you may have to induce vomiting, but in most situations, it’s best if a professional takes care of it in order to prevent further harm.
Keeping Your Dog from Eating Things it Shouldn’t
Even though it’s almost impossible to stop dogs from putting things in their mouth, be present as much as possible and keep an eye on what they’re chewing.
Avoid keeping too many dog toys as well as moisture-swollen (read: already well-chewed) dog chews around your home.
Things like socks and underwear can also be a danger for chewing-prone dogs.
Even if your dog doesn’t choke, they can cause intestinal blockage.
Also be sure to remove large pits from fruit and dispose of them properly.
Take away chew toys before they reach a size small enough to fit fully inside your dog’s mouth.
Don’t leave dangerous things laying around your home. As you saw, there are quite a few potentially dangerous items in your house that can cause an emergency veterinarian trip. You don’t want to have to pay the vet. Your dog doesn’t want to go to the vet. And your vet doesn’t want to tell you that your dog is dead because it choked to death on plastic wrap or underwear!
Have any questions about how to puppy-proof your home or things that may be dangerous for your furry friend? Comment below!
I have been a professional dog trainer and pet sitter for over 20 years. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer, through the international Certification Counsel of Professional Dog Trainers. I have trained and worked with police, Schutzhund and personal protection dogs. I trained Assistance Dogs in a men’s prison and ran my own nonprofit organization to take adult dogs from shelters and to train them to assist children and adults with disabilities, at no charge to my clients. My nonprofit organization and I were nominated for several awards of merit and even made the front page of the Denver Post. I was a veterinary technician for many years, where I learned about all aspects of health and preventative medicine. I have trained and worked with exotic animals and cheetahs. I introduced a temperament testing program in my local shelter and sat on the board of directors. I volunteered with my dog “Mr. Snitch” and helped local children learn to read. I have attained obedience titles and several blue ribbons. I am constantly in search of ways to continue my education and excellence when it comes to animals, their behavior and their health.