Lego bricks provide entertainment for both children and adults — and unfortunately, for dogs too. It is not uncommon for dogs to be attracted by these small pieces of plastic and their playtime often ends up in accidental ingestions.
If your dog ate a Lego, the size of the piece will be fundamental to decide whether to wait for symptoms or go directly for a medical examination. Small dogs are more likely than big dogs to suffer consequences from Lego ingestion.
What should you do if your dog ate a Lego?
When dealing with dog eating legos, the first thing you want to do is to identify the piece of Lego they’ve eaten. How big is it? Which shape does it have? These are very important details to establish the dangerousness of the situation.
Like in many other instances when a dog eats something they shouldn’t, small dogs and puppies are more at risk of bad consequences from eating legos, because these hard bricks can easily get stuck somewhere in their bodies, so you should call your vet immediately.
However, if your dog ate a small Lego, they should be able to pass it without problems, no matter their size. Remember to check the stools to see if they managed to poop the legos.
The easiest way to get your dog to expel the Lego is to induce vomiting. This practice is normally used in animal clinics and some veterinarians might suggest you do it at home if you’re worried that the Lego may get stuck.
Be careful: you can only induce vomiting if your dog just ate a Lego. In about 30 minutes from the ingestion, the Lego will pass through the stomach and won’t come up anymore.
In order to induce vomiting in your dog, you need to give them 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10 pounds of body weight. If they don’t vomit after 15 minutes, you can try one more time.
If they still don’t vomit after the second dose, do not give them more peroxide and wait to see if they pass the Lego normally in the following hours. If not, call your veterinarian.
Not all pet parents feel comfortable with this procedure and some argue that it might be dangerous for the dog when the piece of Lego comes back up through the throat, because it may get stuck.
This is actually a legitimate concern, so if you’re new to the procedure, you may want to bring your dog to the vet and let them handle it.
What happens if a dog eats a Lego?
For most dogs, eating legos bear no consequences. If the dog ate a tiny Lego, they might not even show any particular symptom.
In a smaller percentage of cases, dogs may experience discomfort or develop life-threatening diseases that require prompt medical intervention.
Big pieces of Lego can cause suffocation upon ingestion, which is often fatal for dogs as it leaves little to no time for proper intervention.
This happens more frequently with puppies and small dogs, but some pieces of Lego can be a choking hazard for big dogs as well.
The texture and shape of Lego bricks make it especially hard for them to pass through the esophagus without getting stuck or scraping the internal walls.
If your dog has trouble breathing, you can try opening their mouth and check if you can see the piece of Lego. Be sure to restrain your dog before you touch them because a panicking dog can become aggressive. However, do not muzzle them.
In the case of suffocation, you can try the Heimlich Maneuver as an emergency measure.
Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, often caused by bacteria, poisoning, or foreign objects.
Dogs affected by gastroenteritis will present recurring episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, in which the vomit is often yellowish and foamy (bile) and diarrhea will be present several times per day.
Fever and lack of appetite are also common in dogs with gastroenteritis, who may also gag after eating or drinking.
A proper diagnosis of gastroenteritis will only be possible after a thorough medical examination, including blood analysis and x-rays to find the obstruction.
Lego pieces often have sharp edges, which can scratch or provoke small wounds in the walls of the stomach and intestines. This is very dangerous because internal wounds give way to infections and inflammations like peritonitis.
Peritonitis is a serious condition whose mortality ranges between 50% and 70% in dogs. It is usually a consequence of the perforation of the abdominal cavity or the rupture of the intestines by a foreign object.
Abdominal pain, fever, bleeding are all common symptoms of peritonitis. Death usually comes as a consequence of the shock due to the bacterial infection.
In the case of peritonitis, a prompt intervention will be fundamental. If your dog shows any abnormal symptoms, you should rush them to the vet immediately.
Big pieces of Lego are more likely to get stuck in the gastrointestinal tract (stomach, large intestines, small intestines), however, even a small piece might cause trouble.
The blockage usually prevents your dog from eating and pooping regularly or even at all. As contradicting as it sounds, constipation and diarrhea are among the most common symptoms of blockage.
Constipation means the obstruction is complete, while diarrhea means that only liquids manage to pass through the intestines. Lack of appetite, bloating and vomiting are also recurring symptoms when your dog has a gastrointestinal blockage.
Sometimes a blockage eventually solves itself, but given that this problem can cause dehydration and weakness in your dog, it would be wise to get your pet medically checked instead of waiting for symptoms to get better or worse.
Why do dogs eat Lego?
There isn’t a real reason why a dog should eat legos, so this largely remains a mystery. However, one can imagine that if someone touches legos with fingers stained by some food that dogs find delicious, they will be attracted to the little toys because they can follow the smell.
This is true for any other object, so make sure you or your children wash your hands properly before touching items that your dog may find lying around.
As they explore the world with their nose and mouth, they won’t be able to discern edible and non-edible things if they smell good to them.
If it’s not the first time your dog ate a piece of Lego, or if they eat unusual things regularly, your dog may be affected by a psychological condition known as pica and will require medical attention.
How to prevent your dog from eating Lego again.
You should keep legos stored away when you’re not using them, or you should only keep them into a designed room that should be locked or anyway impossible to access by your dog, whether you’re home or not.
The more curious your dog is, the more careful you will need to be in not leaving anything dangerous where they can find it.
Your home is their home as well, but this doesn’t mean they should have free access to everything at any given time. Putting restrictions will be fundamental to have properly trained dogs who will be less likely to get into trouble.
Is Lego safe for dogs?
Eating legos bears too many unpredictable consequences to be deemed safe. Like it often happens for foreign objects ingestion, in most cases your dog may turn out fine, but there are some variables that are impossible to predict and some of them may be fatal for your pet.
If you have a big dog, you certainly have less to worry about because it’s unlikely that a small piece of Lego will cause much trouble. Nonetheless, you should not allow your dog to eat just whatever they find on the ground.
If your dog is a reckless one, you may want to train them early on. Training your dog will ensure that not only they won’t put themselves in danger at home, but they will be less likely to pick up things from the ground when they’re outside, and it could just save their life.
You should see your dog as a child and take all the precautions necessary to make them feel safe. Unless your dog can help you build that castle of Lego you want, keep them away from those devilish bricks!