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My Dog Ate Styrofoam: What Should I Do Now?

A dog’s endless curiosity is certainly part of their charm, but it might also put them in risky situations that will stress you considerably, especially when it comes to dangerous ingestions.

If your dog ate styrofoam, before worrying, check how much they manage to swallow, in case of a small quantity, they should be fine. Otherwise, if they ingested a large quantity, call immediately your veterinary because their life might be at risk.

What should you do if your dog ate styrofoam?

styrofoam packing peanutsIf your dog accidentally ate styrofoam, make sure to remove any remainings from the area and call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Hotline.

Depending on the size of your dog, their medical history, and the type of material ingested, there may be different consequences, from mild to very dangerous or even fatal, so don’t underestimate the situation.

Check if your dog shows any immediate symptoms of sickness or if they’re not breathing or acting normally. In that case, you should bring them to the emergency clinic immediately.

If your dog isn’t able to pass the styrofoam on their own, specific procedures or medical surgery may be required. Only your veterinarian will be able to assess the situation upon close examination of your pet.

What you should not do if your dog ate styrofoam. 

Do not try anything on your own initiative if your dog swallowed styrofoam. Chances are you’re only going to make it worse and you could seriously harm your pet.

Especially, do not try to induce vomiting in your dog at home. Some veterinarians may suggest this procedure, but if you’ve never done it before, do not attempt to do it without supervision. It would be safer to bring your dog to the clinic and let professionals handle the situation.

When ingesting styrofoam, inducing vomit might obtain the opposite effect than the one you’re hoping for, because your dog might suffocate as the styrofoam comes back up through their esophagus.

Is styrofoam toxic to dogs? 

Boxer dog

Styrofoam is toxic to dogs if ingested regularly, however, one-time ingestion shouldn’t cause much harm in that sense.

Recurring ingestion of styrofoam can be extremely poisonous, as this material is derived from plastic and your dog won’t be able to digest it. Their liver and kidneys will be overworked from trying to process the plastic and might eventually collapse.

The chemicals contained in styrofoam can also be the cause of serious and lifelong diseases like cancer. Unfortunately, cancer is the main cause of death for dogs over 10 years old and even young ones don’t have a positive prognosis.

Even though a single occurrence shouldn’t be toxic for your pet, the side effects of eating styrofoam are still too dangerous to risk it. Prevention is the key to avoid these dramatic situations.

Why do dogs eat styrofoam?

Your dog is not attracted to styrofoam, but rather to whatever the styrofoam contained.

How many times did you happen to buy food that came in some form of plastic wrapping? Your dog can still smell the food on the wrapping and may try to eat it.

It’s also true that things like packing peanuts look attractive to dogs who see them as playthings. It’s equally common to hear that a dog ate a styrofoam cup that was lying around.

Dogs are playful creatures and small objects may stimulate their curiosity, which is why it’s important to keep your environment dog-proof.

What happens if a dog eats styrofoam? 

If your dog ate styrofoam, they will most probably experience some kind of discomfort in the abdominal region, whether it’s a simple stomachache or something more serious like a gastrointestinal blockage.

Most ingestions of styrofoam in dogs are related to packing peanuts because they’re very small and easy for dogs to find lying around. Also, they seem to find them very entertaining.

However, exactly because they’re so small, your dog might accidentally ingest a big amount of packing peanuts before you notice. The smaller your dog is, the higher chance of styrofoam causing a blockage in the intestines.

Common symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Presence of blood in vomit and/or stools
  • Lack of appetite
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain

Any of these symptoms requires a medical examination to ward off further health complications. A blockage in the intestines is not to underestimate, because in the most serious cases can lead to the death of your pet.

Cornstarch. 

There is a bright side if your dog ate packing peanuts. In fact, not all packing peanuts are made from styrofoam — some are made from cornstarch, which is dramatically less dangerous for your dog.

Cornstarch peanuts are made from natural sources and are biodegradable and not at all toxic for your dog.

To know whether your dog ate a styrofoam peanut or a cornstarch peanut, it will be enough to dip it into a glass of water. Cornstarch will quickly dissolve, while styrofoam will stay the same.

If you happen to be unable to check which kind of packing peanut your dog ate, play it safe, and get in contact with your vet or a pet helpline.

How to prevent your dog from eating styrofoam again. 

styrofoamStyrofoam is certainly more attractive to cats than it is to dogs, and yet you can be sure that if you leave a styrofoam cup or peanut lying around, you will come back to find your dog playing with it.

Some dogs are real athletes when it comes to reaching something they’re interested in, or maybe they’re very big dogs and there’s no counter or piece of furniture that is too high for them.

That’s why you should make sure that the rooms your dog uses the most are completely safe for them to explore. Try not to leave anything that isn’t dog-friendly in places that your dog can reach.

If you unpack something, get rid immediately of all the styrofoam. Whether there’s cornstarch peanuts or plastic peanuts, remove them from where your dog can find them. If you’re planning on using them in the future, make sure they’re stored or locked somewhere your pet won’t find them.

Your dog’s point of view. 

If you want to make sure you took all the right precautions, try to put yourself in your dog’s metaphorical shoes. It might seem silly, but sometimes changing our point of view actually allows us to find more solutions.

Sit on the floor and try to spot all the places your dog may reach and explore. Take in all the details and make sure nothing dangerous accidentally ends up in your dog’s safe area.

One single minute spent seeing the world with your dog’s eyes might save their life someday.

Can dogs eat styrofoam? 

Small puppy

Dogs cannot eat styrofoam, because this plastic-like material can easily turn into a choking hazard or a very expensive medical surgery, if not worse.

If one-time ingestion of styrofoam poses a considerable threat to your dog’s health, repeated ingestion is even more harmful, as it can lead to life-threatening diseases like cancer.

As dogs are very curious and playful animals, prevention will be the only way to keep them safe. Be a responsible pet parent and keep their environment free from dangerous items.