My Dog Ate a Rubber Toy and Seems Fine – What Should I Do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Rubber is dangerous for dogs to eat because they can’t digest it.
  • Rubber can cause choking, digestive upset, abdominal infections, or obstructions when dogs eat it.
  • If your dog eats rubber, you should contact your veterinarian immediately.

Your kids are playing in the yard with a small bouncy ball they got at the arcade. Suddenly they come in to let you know the dog ate the ball. What should you do?

While tiny pieces of rubber may pass through the gut without problems, this material can also cause significant problems. If your dog swallows a rubber ball, rubber band, or all or part of some other rubber toy, you should contact your veterinarian.

In this article, we’ll discuss how ingested rubber can affect your furbaby, what you should do when your pooch gobbles up a rubber toy, and signs that rubber is causing issues. To prepare you for a veterinary visit, we’ll explain what your veterinarian may do to treat a pooch that eats rubber and how long it takes a dog to recover after eating rubber.

Let’s dive in.

How Much Rubber Is Dangerous to Dogs?

The amount of rubber it can take to cause trouble for your pooch depends on your dog’s size, the size, and shape of the ball, toy, or piece your pup snarfed up, and how many pieces. For example, a large dog such as a German Shepherd that eats one small rubber band or a tiny piece of a chewed-up rubber ball may have no difficulty. But if he ingests a package of rubber bands or swallows an intact bouncy ball, he could choke or suffer from an intestinal blockage. 

Miniature and toy breeds will tolerate less rubber because their digestive system is smaller. So there’s less room for pieces of toys to pass through without getting stuck.

No matter how much your pup eats, you should contact your veterinarian. 

How much rubber is dangerous to your dog depends on his size and the size of the toy or piece of rubber. Large breeds can sometimes ingest tiny pieces without any issues. When it comes to miniature and toy breeds, the digestive tract is smaller making it harder for pieces to pass through safely. 

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate a Rubber Toy?

Knowing what to do and what not to do if your dog eats a rubber toy can make a huge difference in his well-being. Balls, rubber bands, and other rubber objects can easily lodge in your pal’s throat or digestive tract and cause an obstruction. 

The moment you know that your pup ingested rubber, check for signs of:

  • Panting
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Restlessness
  • Choking
  • Retching or vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Swollen or painful abdomen
  • Pieces stuck in the throat

You should take your pooch to the veterinarian immediately if you see these symptoms. If your pooch seems fine, call your vet’s office and let them know what happened. They may instruct you to observe your pooch closely for the next few days. 

If you suspect your pooch ate some rubber, check him to see if he’s showing concerning signs like choking, vomiting, drooling, or panting. These types of symptoms may indicate an emergency. Take your dog to the veterinarian immediately. If there are no concerning signs observe your pup for the next few days.

What You Should Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Ate Some Rubber

If you walk into the room and see shredded rubber on the floor next to your dog, or if you have another reason to suspect that your furbaby ingested some rubber, carefully check your dog’s mouth. You may find a piece of rubber or a rubber band in the oral cavity. 

As long as your dog hasn’t partially swallowed the item, you may attempt to remove it. However, if the rubber band or another object is stuck in the throat or extends into the throat, don’t try to dislodge it. You risk pushing the item further into the throat and causing your dog to choke Take your to the veterinarian immediately.

If you suspect your dog ate something made of rubber, check his mouth. Look for pieces of rubber in the oral cavity or throat area. You may be able to remove rubber that’s in the oral cavity, but don’t attempt to take out items that are in the throat.

What if My Dog Ate a Lot of Rubber But Is Acting Normal?

When dogs eat a pile of rubber, you may not immediately see signs of trouble or distress. Items that are small enough to pass through the esophagus arrive in the stomach. Because your dog’s body can’t digest rubber, the ball, band, or toy will either stay in the stomach or move on to the intestines.

Rubber that remains in the stomach can cause irritation to the lining and predispose your dog to an abdominal infection or peritonitis When pieces of rubber continue to the intestines, they may clump together and cause an obstruction. Either condition is dangerous for your dog and will require veterinary care. 

So, even if your pooch is acting normal after eating a lot of rubber, you should contact your veterinarian. The doctor may want to take an x-ray or ultrasound of your dog’s gastrointestinal tract to see where the rubber is located and determine the next steps.

Sometimes rubber passes safely through the throat to the stomach, so dogs don’t show immediate signs of distress. Because the rubber can’t be digested, it may still trigger an infection or obstruction. Therefore, it’s best to call your veterinarian any time your dog snarfs a lot of rubber.

Signs of Trouble After Your Dog Eats Rubber

If your dog eats rubber, and it gets lodged in the throat, you may notice choking symptoms like:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pawing at the face
  • Restlessness
  • Retching
  • Drooling

When you don’t see immediate symptoms, your veterinarian will probably instruct you to observe your special pal for signs that may point to peritonitis or an obstruction.

  • Vomiting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Rapid breathing
  • Diarrhea at first then decreased poops
  • Black stools
  • Reluctance to lie down
  • Pain in the abdomen

When rubber gets caught in the throat, you’ll notice signs of choking like difficulty breathing and pawing at the face. If objects enter the digestive tract before causing trouble, you’ll see symptoms that point to peritonitis or an intestinal blockage. 

What Happens to Dogs When They Eat Rubber?

If your dog ingests a small piece of rubber, there’s a chance it will pass through the digestive tract and out in your dog’s poop. However, rubber can also cause some serious conditions in dogs.

When dogs eat large pieces of rubber, the chunks may get caught in the esophagus and cause your dog to choke. Pieces or items that are small enough will reach the stomach, but they can’t be digested.

Once in the digestive tract, it can irritate the stomach lining and cause vomiting or diarrhea. If it lingers in the gut too long, your dog may have gastritis or peritonitis. Because of the stomach’s acid content, rubber pieces may also clump together and cause an obstruction at the entry into the intestines or within the intestines. 

When a dog eats a small piece of rubber, it may pass through his system without any negative side effects. Larger chunks can cause your dog to choke or enter the digestive tract. In the stomach, the rubber may irritate the gut lining or clump together and cause obstructions.

Why Is Rubber Dangerous for Dogs?

Dogs can’t digest rubber, and pieces can get stuck in the soft tissues. As a result, when a dog swallows rubber, it may lodge in the esophagus or intestines and cause life-threatening blockages. It may also irritate the stomach lining and trigger infections. If obstructions or infections are left untreated, they can become life-threatening situations. 

Some dogs eat rubber from their chew toys. When canine playthings are wet or heavily used, pieces may break off.  To prevent the risk of your dog swallowing a piece of rubber: 

  • Only allow your pooch to play with these types of toys under supervision. 
  • Don’t leave rubber toys laying around the house when you’re not home.
  • Change out older toys with new ones regularly.

Rubber is dangerous because dogs can’t digest rubber. The material can get stuck in the esophagus or intestines, or it can irritate the stomach. That’s why you should supervise your pup whenever he plays with a rubber chew toy. It’s also wise to replace older toys with new ones on a routine basis. 

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog if He Ate Rubber?

When you take your dog to the vet, he will examine him and take an x-ray or ultrasound to identify the location, amount, and size of rubber in your pup’s digestive tract. If the rubber is in the esophagus, he may induce vomiting to remove the object.

 If larger pieces are in or beyond the stomach, inducing vomiting might cause your dog to choke.  If your veterinarian thinks the rubber could safely pass through the digestive tract, he may hold your pup for observation. If there’s an obstruction, surgery will be necessary. 

Your veterinarian will take x-rays to determine the size and location of the rubber and treat your dog accordingly. If the rubber is in the throat, the doctor could induce vomiting. Some dogs may be placed under observation to see if the rubber passes safely through the digestive tract. Others require surgery.

How Long Will It Take for My Dog to Recover After Eating Rubber?

Your dog’s recovery period will depend on the effects of the rubber. 

  • If it passes through the digestive tract, you should see it in about 12-24 hours.
  •  Dogs that choke on rubber toys will recover over several days.
  • If your pooch has an infection, he will require a course of antibiotics for at least 10 days to 2 weeks.
  • Pups that require surgery for an obstruction will need at least a few weeks to recover. 

The recovery period will depend on the type of damage caused by the rubber. Pieces may pass through the tract in a day or so. Otherwise, the time required for recovery can range from a few days to several weeks. 

The Final Woof

Rubber is dangerous for dogs to eat. Their systems can’t digest the material. Larger chunks can easily get caught in the throat or intestines causing choking or obstruction. If you know or think your dog ate any rubber, call your veterinarian as soon as possible.

When the veterinarian examines your dog, he’ll take an x-ray or ultrasound to determine how to treat your pooch.

Treatment may include inducing vomiting, observation for signs of trouble, or surgery. Recovery depends on how rubber affects your dog and the method of treatment.

Photo of author
Dr. Libby Guise earned her DVM from the University of Minnesota in 1994. After working in private practice in Wisconsin for two years, she joined the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer. In 2011, Libby came home to focus on raising and teaching her adoptive daughter. She lives in Wisconsin with her daughter, husband, and two furbabies: Charis, a lab-mix rescue pup, and Chesed, a Springer Spaniel.

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