It is quite common for dogs to eat indigestible things. This is especially true for young dogs as they are naturally curious and enjoy chewing.
If you know or suspect that your dog ate a rubber band, you should first establish the size. If it’s a small band, your dog should pass it easily. In the case of a larger one, however, your dog could experience severe gastrointestinal complications, so call your veterinarian immediately.
What should you do if your dog ate a rubber band?
Whether you know for sure or suspect that your dog swallowed a rubber band, you should call your vet, and he may advise you to wait it out and see if the dog passes it.
The veterinarian will also inform you of the symptoms of obstructions, which you should watch out for. If your dog starts to show any of the symptoms, it’s time to bring him to the clinic.
What should you do if your dog is choking?
Swallowing a rubber band can cause your dog to choke. If your dog is choking, contact a veterinarian immediately as it can be life-threatening. Signs that your dog is choking include:
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the mouth
- Making choking sounds
- Gagging and retching
- Rubbing face against the floor
Coughing and blue-colored mucous membranes could signify your dog is also having trouble breathing. And this needs to be dealt with immediately by taking the following steps:
1. Check your dog’s mouth to see if you can see the rubber band. If you can, don’t pull it or cut it as this may cause injury to the throat or esophagus.
2. Protect yourself by restraining the dog before proceeding since choking dogs will struggle and potentially bite in their panic.
3. Open your dog’s mouth by placing one hand on the upper jaw and the other on the lower.
4. Press the dog’s lips over its teeth so that they are between your fingers and its teeth. Any dog can bite, so take every precaution.
5. If you are working by yourself, keep an index finger on your lower hand free to perform the next step.
6. While looking inside your dog’s mouth, sweep your finger from the back of the mouth to the front to try to remove the rubber band.
7. If you can’t move the rubber band with your fingers, call your veterinarian or the emergency clinic immediately.
If the dog is choking and you can’t see the rubber band in his/her mouth, perform the Heimlich maneuver for dogs. More so if the dog has become unconscious.
Are rubber bands toxic to dogs?
No. Rubber bands, unlike acids, alkalis, and petroleum products, are not toxic. If your dog ate a rubber band, the dangers it faces are choking and developing intestinal blockage.
Symptoms to look for
Has your dog swallowed a rubber band? To determine if or when you need to take him/her to the vet, watch out for gastrointestinal blockage symptoms such as:
– Sudden lack of appetite
– Excessive drooling
– Abnormal bowel movements (e.g., change in stool color, consistency, or amount)
According to Dr. Greg Cunningham, symptoms will usually come on very quickly within 24 to 48 hours. If you notice any of these symptoms, take the dog to the vet for evaluation because if left untreated, a gastrointestinal blockage can lead to death.
If your dog is not showing any signs, wait to see if it passes the rubber band. To know for sure, each time your dog poops, you will need to sift through the poop till you find it. Usually, the dog should pass the rubber band in a day or two.
What happens at the vet?
The veterinarian will perform a physical examination and use radiographs (x-ray, ultrasound) to determine if your dog swallowed any foreign material and identify it. The dog’s medical history, including recent exposure to or known swallowing of foreign material, will also help in determining the appropriate diagnostic tests.
Following confirmation of foreign body ingestion, the veterinarian may run blood tests to assess your dog’s general health. Blood tests are especially important since most gastric foreign bodies require anesthesia to remove.
Then based on the clinical examination, symptoms, rubber band’s location in your dog’s body, your vet will suggest the best treatment option.
Treatment of gastrointestinal blockage
Foreign objects like rubber bands are removed by one of two primary methods: endoscopy or surgery.
However, since your dog may be dehydrated and have an electrolyte imbalance from vomiting and hardly eating, the vet may first recommend hospitalization with intravenous fluids. Once your dog recovers, he/she will be anesthetized before the procedure to remove the rubber band begins.
Here, an endoscope is either inserted in the stomach through the mouth or the colon via the rectum. An endoscope is a flexible tube with a tiny video camera at the end, which allows the vet to view and inspect your dog’s gastrointestinal tract.
When the veterinarian locates the foreign body, grasping forceps is passed through the endoscope to retrieve it. The rubber band, in your dog’s case, is grasped then slowly pulled up through the esophagus and out the mouth.
Since endoscopy is a non-surgical procedure, it requires relatively little recovery time. However, if the radiographs showed a significant amount of foreign material is in the intestines, endoscopy may not be the appropriate choice. There’s no way to tell if there’s residual foreign material in the intestines with the procedure.
If the foreign object has a low chance of being removed via endoscopy, surgery is recommended. Your dog is first sedated then his/her mid-abdomen shaved.
The veterinarian then makes an incision along the center of the abdomen and examines the stomach and intestines for foreign bodies. Once located, a small incision is made in the stomach or intestine to remove the rubber band. The incision is sutured, followed by the body wall and skin.
Surgery allows for the examination of the entire gastrointestinal tract, meaning there’s no risk of any foreign material getting left behind. It, however, results in post-operative pain, the risk of infection, and extended hospitalization.
After the removal of the foreign object, your dog will be continued on intravenous fluids until he/she is no longer vomiting or is eating and drinking without vomiting. The vet may also prescribe pain medication (e.g., butorphanol) and antibiotics. Your dog may then require to stay in the hospital for 2 to 5 days, depending on the severity of intestinal damage.
How to prevent your dog from swallowing rubber bands
There are a few measures you can take to help prevent your dog from swallowing dangerous objects:
– Keep commonly ingested things out of reach. These include rubber bands, hair ties, cigarettes, socks, food wrappers, fruit pips, tampons, et cetera
– Monitor your dogs when they are chewing on toys or treats
– Dispose of any chew toys or rawhide bones that get small enough to fit your dog’s mouth
– Prevent access to the rubbish
Can dogs eat rubber bands?
The short answer is no, but if your dog ate a rubber band, don’t panic! Chances are it will pass it over the next few days. However, if your dog starts showing symptoms such as vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea, call your vet immediately.
It’s almost impossible to stop a dog from mouthing objects. However, supervising your dog while they chew on treats and ridding their environment of potentially harmful items, can help ensure his/her safety.