When you have kids at home, you probably spend a lot of time picking up the toys and other items they leave on the floor, especially if you have pets around the house that could eat them.
Crayons are one of the kids’ favorite pastimes and if you have a dog there’s a high chance that your dog will eat crayons sooner or later. Luckily, crayons are not toxic to dogs, but they could still provoke blockage or suffocation, so keep an eye on them.
What should you do if your dog eats a crayon?
If you catch your dog eating crayons, use the “leave it” command to make them stop, then remove all crayons and other harmful things from under their nose.
You should make an estimate of how many crayons they ate. Crayons aren’t as dangerous as pencils, but if your dog ate a whole 64 crayon box, there’s going to be consequences.
Monitor your dogs for signs of discomfort such as:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
If any of these symptoms appear, rush your dog to the veterinarian. If you want to feel safer, you should call your veterinarian as soon as you find out your dog ate crayons. They may not tell you to come in, but they could give you good advice.
Crayons eaten in small quantities shouldn’t do much harm to your dog, at most you may see pieces of them in the stools or weird-colored feces.
Are crayons toxic to dogs?
Crayons aren’t toxic to dogs because the United States regulations establish that they must not be, given that they’re used by little children that could very well eat them. That doesn’t mean they’re encouraging children to eat crayons, but better be safe than sorry!
Crayons are made from paraffin wax and color pigment, very simple ingredients that shouldn’t cause your dog anything more than a mild stomach ache.
Crayons could be toxic in specific scenarios, such as someone touched food or other things that are poisonous for your dog and then touched the crayons without washing their hands. Your dog then ate the contaminated crayons.
In that case, toxicity depends on what the crayons were stained with. If it was chocolate, for example, you should bring your dog to the vet immediately.
What happens when a dog eats crayons?
Crayons rarely cause harm to your dog, even though they’re sometimes not completely digested and you could find entire pieces of crayons in your dog’s stools the next day.
The only problems related to crayons could surface if your dog doesn’t chew on them and eats them whole. In that case, crayons could cause suffocation or blockage in the intestines.
If your dog eats a whole crayon, it may get lodged in their throat and prevent them from breathing. In this case, your dog will show symptoms such as:
- Pawing at the mouth or head
- Heavy breathing
Suffocation is a medical emergency because if the oxygen doesn’t reach the brain, your dog may collapse and death may follow shortly. If the situation is too severe to bring your dog to the veterinarian, you can try using the Heimlich Maneuver.
A large number of crayons or partially chewed crayons could form an obstruction in the stomach or intestines.
Symptoms of gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs include:
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
- Abdominal pain
- Swelling of the stomach
If you suspect that your dog may be experiencing gastrointestinal obstruction, reach the nearest animal clinic for a medical examination.
Within 2 hours from the ingestion, your veterinarian may try to induce vomiting in your dog and get the crayons out of the stomach.
If it’s too late to induce vomiting, the veterinarian may proceed with an endoscopy to locate the crayons and remove them. In severe gastrointestinal obstruction cases, your dog might need to undergo abdominal surgery to remove them.
Why do dogs eat crayons?
No one knows for sure. Dogs eat many things they shouldn’t find pleasant or appetizing for no apparent reason and we just accepted that our fur friends can be a little weird sometimes.
We can theorize that they’re attracted to the particular scent of the crayons and given that dogs are very curious animals, they would not resist taking a bite on something that is new and unexplored to them.
Puppies during their teething period may chew on many inedible things. It’s their way to deal with the discomfort and pain that the new teeth coming out are causing them.
If your puppy ate a crayon, it was probably by mistake. Puppies aren’t interested in eating the things they’re chewing on during the teething period and they usually jump from one item to another, leaving them when they’re tired of it.
Nonetheless, you should not let your puppy ease their discomfort on just anything they can find because they could end up eating something far more dangerous than a crayon.
Make sure to provide your puppy with appropriate teething toys for dogs and keep an eye on them during this delicate period of their life.
Pica is a psychological condition that most often affects female dogs but is commonly seen in male dogs too.
Dogs affected by pica have the compulsive behavior to eat inedible things, often putting themselves at risk of gastrointestinal blockage or poisoning. Dogs with this condition can eat anything, from paper to insulation.
The causes behind pica can be of different nature and include, but are not limited to:
- Separation anxiety
- Metabolic diseases (diabetes)
- Dietary problems
- Attention-seeking behavior
- Lack of stimulation (boredom)
A medical examination will be necessary to establish what is the probable cause behind the pica. Some causes can be treated with a new or improved diet, medications, or behavioral training.
Pica won’t go away on its own and it’s important that you get your dog checked if you suspect they may be affected by this condition, because dogs affected by pica may put themselves in life-threatening situations.
How to prevent your dog from eating crayons.
Even if crayons are far from being the most dangerous thing your dog can eat, it would be better to eliminate the risk altogether. Dogs have strong stomachs, but any changes in their diet could cause unforeseen troubles.
Since small dogs are highly at risk of suffocation and gastrointestinal blockage when they eat linear objects, if you have a small breed dog or a puppy it will be especially important that you take all the precautions against crayons, for example:
– Clean all surfaces that are easily reachable by your dog. You should never leave items on the floor or the kitchen counter because your dog can easily access these places.
– Lock the garbage can. You don’t need to literally lock your garbage can, but make sure it’s not one of those garbage cans your dog can easily open because they surely will and they will eat from there more times than you can imagine. Secure the garbage can outside as well.
– Keep your dog out of the kids’ room, because they will find a lot of interesting things to eat and some of them could be way more dangerous than crayons, like lego bricks.
– Provide your dog with chew toys that are appropriate for their size, jaw strength, and needs. A puppy during teething will need a teething toy, an adult dog will need a chew toy like Nylabones.
Can dogs eat crayons?
Crayons are non-toxic and don’t usually cause troubles to dogs, but they are inedible items made from an industrial process and as such, are not qualified as dogs’ snacks.
It would take a large number of crayons or a very small dog to create a disaster, but if these conditions apply your dog may suffocate or suffer from gastrointestinal problems that will require quick medical assistance.
Eating crayons may also be the symptom of an underlying psychological condition called pica. If your dog makes it a habit of eating inedible things, it’s time for a medical check-up to find out what exactly is wrong with your pooch.
Pica is usually treatable as long as the core issue is found out. It is most often related to anxiety or a wrong diet, which pushes your dog to look for nutrients in other things.
Remember to always store away inedible items that could attract your dog (which means most of them) and make sure your house is pet-proof at all times, but especially when you’re not around.
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