What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Glass?

Dogs go about life with an “if I see it, I eat it” attitude that causes a fair share of troubles for their pet parents and can turn very dangerous for them, that’s why it is always better to keep an eye on our dogs and put restrictions where necessary.

Among the most dangerous non-toxic things dogs can eat, sharp items like glass take the crown. If your dog swallowed glass, call your vet, and follow their instructions. You will need to monitor your dog and help them pass the pieces of glass as safely as possible.

What to do if your dog eats glass?

When a dog eats glass the first thing to do is to check their lips, tongue, and mouth for blood, which means there are wounds somewhere that you may not be able to see. In that case, call your veterinarian right away.

On the contrary, if the blood loss is considerable, your dog’s life may be at risk so you should rush them to the nearest animal clinic.

If your dog isn’t showing signs of suffocation (pawing of the mouth, drooling) or other signs of discomfort, the veterinarian will probably suggest you keep them at home.

First of all, they will recommend that you don’t induce vomiting in your dog, because in this case, it could cause more damage than benefit: the glass shards could wound the esophagus and mouth while coming back up.

Feed them with white bread with oil, mashed potatoes, or canned pumpkin (not pie filling), which are all foods that will wrap around the glass shards and help them pass.

Your dog should eat often, but in small amounts, and should always have fresh water available. Encourage them to drink more than they usually do.

Be on the lookout for symptoms such as:

  • Lethargy
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Blood in the stools
  • Lack of appetite

In case your dog starts feeling sick, it should be immediately seen by a veterinarian.

If the shards are small, dogs should pass them without problems and you should check the stools regularly to see if they do.

Remember: it doesn’t matter if it’s the first time your dog eats something inedible or the hundredth time, the first thing you want to do is always to seek professional advice, especially with dangerous ingestions like these.

What happens if a dog eats glass?

The sharp edges of glass shards are very dangerous if ingested and the bigger they are the more they’re likely to cause severe wounds and infections.

Dogs do not eat glass, it is usually an accident. Most stories about dogs that ate glass shards are related to Christmas trees because dogs are very attracted by the decorations and you often hear that a dog ate a glass ornament while playing with it.

The truth is, most dogs will spit out glass as soon as they realize what it is, but sometimes the pieces are ingested by mistake.

For this same reason, it’s rare for a dog to eat large pieces of glass, especially if a puppy ate glass. The pieces are too big for their mouths and they would never eat them voluntarily anyway unless we’re in the presence of a self-destructive form of pica.

Choking Hazard 

A piece of glass will make more damage in the intestines, where it can cause obstruction, internal wounds, and even infections that could lead to other diseases or affect the organs. However, problems could start as soon as your dog eats it.

If your dog accidentally swallowed glass from a big object like a vase or a chandelier, there’s a chance they may have eaten big pieces of it that could open wounds in the gums, tongue, and mouth, and also lodge in the esophagus causing suffocation.

A dog that is suffocating will start drooling, coughing, or pawing at their mouth or head. Prompt intervention is essential because your dog may lose consciousness if they can’t breathe.

Start by checking if you can see the piece of glass inside their mouth and if you can reach it, remove it by hand (make sure your dog is restrained and cannot bite you, because they will be in a panic).

If you’re unable to remove the object, bring the dog to the nearest emergency clinic or try the Heimlich Maneuver.

Gastrointestinal Obstruction

Small shards are likely to pass through the GI tract, but it’s not always the case and if your dog isn’t lucky, they could form a blockage that could prevent your dog from eating, drinking, and going about their life normally.

Symptoms of gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in the stools
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Weakness
  • Abdominal pain or swelling

Unfortunately, it is not possible to see glass shards through x-rays, so your dog will need a medical examination after which your veterinarian can decide what is the best course of action to take.

Gastroenteritis

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines. The symptoms may be confused with other conditions, so it’s important to have a medical examination if you know or suspect that your dog ate broken glass.

Gastroenteritis can be provoked by metabolic disorders, wrong diet, or feeding your dog inappropriate foods (usually human foods), ingestion of feces, bacteria, parasites, or allergies.

It can also be caused by accidental ingestion of inedible items or it can be a consequence of gastrointestinal blockage.

This condition can affect adult dogs and puppies alike and it can lead to severe dehydration and consequently, to electrolyte imbalance.

Since electrolytes are fundamental for the regular functionality of the main organs, dehydration left untreated can be lethal for your dog and therefore requires immediate assistance.

Gastroenteritis can only be diagnosed after a thorough medical examination because it is often confused with other conditions as it has no specific symptoms.

Perforated Bowel

If your dog ate a piece of glass that is particularly big and sharp, they could risk perforation of the bowel.

A perforated bowel occurs when a foreign object manages to tear apart or open wounds in the bowel and it is a very serious condition.

Inedible items such as broken bones, needles, sticks, and aluminum cans can all be the culprits behind a perforated bowel and sometimes they can perforate the intestines in more than one spot at the same time.

A perforated bowel is a medical emergency that requires immediate assistance. If you suspect your dog may be bleeding internally, it would be better to warn your veterinarian while you’re on the way, so they can have the emergency room ready for when you arrive.

The initial symptoms of a perforated bowel aren’t different from those of gastrointestinal obstruction or gastroenteritis. Your dog will refuse to eat or drink, will appear lethargic, uncomfortable, and in pain. They will probably develop a fever as well.

If the blood pressure drops, gut bacteria enter the blood or a major organ is affected by the perforation, your dog might go into shock quickly.

In most cases, surgery will be required to remove foreign objects and to repair the intestines. If the content of the intestines has spilled and spread through the body, it may be necessary to use drainage tubes to remove it.

Treatment post-surgery usually includes antibiotics and other medications.

What happens to your dog during and after surgery for a perforated bowel?

If your dog had surgery for a perforated bowel, recovery is not always easy. There are a few things that can happen to dogs in this situation:

– Short bowel syndrome: if your dog had to remove a significant part of the bowel due to perforation and infections, they could have a hard time assimilating nutrients from food and water;

– Gastrointestinal resection and anastomosis: if there is only one perforation, the damaged part may be removed during surgery and the remaining sections will be reattached together. Sometimes this could lead to leakage in the spot where the two sections are connected, which can lead once again to infections;

– Blood flow restoration: in the presence of bowel obstruction or perforation that prevents blood from flowing correctly, there could be damage to the organs. If that’s the case, it will be the priority of the surgeon to restore the natural blood flow in order to avoid severe organ failure and possible death.

Can dogs die from eating glass?

In very unfortunate cases, yes. Dogs are careful not to eat glass on purpose, but accidental ingestions can happen and if the shards are big and sharp enough, they could cause all kinds of troubles.

However, be assured that in most cases, the glass pieces aren’t big enough to become lethal and your dog will pass them with the stools as if nothing happened.

You can always help your pet pass the glass by feeding them bulky food that can wrap around the broken pieces and protect their intestines. It will also make them pass stools more quickly.

If you’re concerned, you should always ask your veterinarian for advice first. It is recommended to be very careful with dangerous materials like glass around dogs.

You may want to swap those glass ornaments for something less sharp and fragile or at least put them somewhere your dog can’t reach. Be also sure to always clean up glass pieces from the floor as soon as possible, or lock your dog out of the room until you’re finished.