My dog ate a Crayon. What Should I do?

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Key Takeaways:

  • Crayons aren’t toxic for dogs, but they can still cause problems.
  • Dogs can’t digest crayons, so the materials can clump and cause obstructions.
  • If your dog shows any signs of distress after eating crayons, call your veterinarian immediately.

If you have kids, you probably have crayons around the house. When your tots forget to pick up their art supplies or lose a few supplies, Fido is likely to find them. So, what if your dog decides the colorful crayons look like tasty treats?

Fortunately, crayons aren’t known to be toxic to dogs, but they can still give your pup an upset stomach. And if your pooch swallows large chunks or eats enough of them, crayons can cause obstructions.

Are Crayons Toxic to Dogs?

Crayons are not toxic to dogs, but they usually contain paraffin, beeswax, and dyes. Although it’s rare, some of the ingredients may upset your pup’s stomach lining and cause vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain. 

The real risk when your dog eats crayons occurs when she ingests a large chunk or a bunch of crayons. Pieces may get stuck in the throat causing her to choke. And if several crayons collect in the stomach, they may clump together. As the bolus travels into the intestines, it can cause an obstruction.

Crayons do not contain ingredients that are toxic to dogs, but on rare occasions, they may upset your pup’s stomach. When your furbaby eats big pieces or lots of crayons, they can get stuck in the throat or intestines causing a blockage.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Crayons?

If you catch your dog feasting on crayons, remove any remaining pieces from her reach. Check your dog for signs of distress such as gasping for breath, pawing the face, excessive drooling, or gagging sounds. Any time you see signs of choking, take your dog to the vet immediately. 

Provided there are no symptoms of distress, carefully open your dog’s muzzle and clear any pieces in the mouth or throat. Try to determine how much she ate and call your vet to let him know what happened. The doctor will probably tell you to monitor your pup for the next several days for signs of obstruction. If your pup stops eating, has vomiting or diarrhea, shows abdominal pain, or becomes distressed take her to the vet. There may be an obstruction.

If your dog eats crayons, remove any pieces from her access. Check for distress and take her to the vet if you see signs of choking. If she’s symptom-free, let your vet know what happened and monitor your pooch for a few days. If you see signs of obstruction, take her to the clinic.

What You Should Do Immediately If You Suspect Your Dog Has Eaten Crayons?

When you walk into the room and see evidence that your dog ate crayons, check her mouth for any pieces. Make sure nothing is stuck in the back of the throat. 

If your dog is showing signs of distress like panting, gasping for air, or pawing at the face, a chunk of crayon may be lodged in the esophagus causing her to choke. Do not attempt to make your pup vomit. Take her to the vet as soon as possible.

On the other hand, if your pooch is acting normally, assess the situation. Check the room for any remaining crayons and remove them from the area. Then you can contact your veterinarian and let him know what happened. 

Your first action will depend on whether your dog shows signs of choking. If your pooch is in distress, take her to your veterinarian immediately. Otherwise, assess the situation and remove any remaining pieces. You can call your vet once you secure the craft supplies.

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

The more crayons a dog eats the greater the risk of problems. When dogs eat a pile of crayons, it makes it easier for the materials to clump together in the stomach or lodge in the intestines. These conditions cause blockages and prevent food from moving through the gastrointestinal system. Obstructions are emergencies that cause vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, and other symptoms. 

Usually, signs of obstruction do not surface right away. It may take 12-24 or more hours until the crayon bolus enters the intestines, blocks the passageway, and triggers symptoms. So if your dog ingests several crayons, contact your veterinarian. The doctor may want to examine your dog and take an x-ray to locate the coloring supplies.

If your dog eats a pile of crayons and is acting normal, she may not be out of the woods yet. It can take 12-14 hours or more for clumps of crayons to reach and block the small intestine. Call your vet and let him know what happened.

Signs of Trouble After Dogs Eat Crayons

Dogs that eat crayons may feel minor digestive upset because of the foreign material. In this case, your pup may have some diarrhea and vomiting. However, if the art supplies lodge in the throat or digestive tract, your dog can choke or suffer an obstruction. If you notice signs suggesting either condition, take your dog to the vet immediately.

Signs of Choking 

  • Panting or wheezing
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the face
  • Whining
  • Hunched appearance
  • Trembling

Signs of Obstruction

  • Vomiting
  • Early diarrhea followed by constipation and straining to defecate later on
  • Hunched appearance
  • Flatulence
  • Abdominal pain
  • Dehydration
  • Restlessness/reluctance to lie down
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression

What Happens to Dogs When They Eat Crayons?

When dogs eat crayons, the paraffin and wax materials can’t be digested. Usually, you will see multicolored poop in a few days. However, large chunks of crayon may get stuck in the soft tissues. If they lodge in the esophagus the pieces can cause choking. 

In the stomach, the wax and paraffin might gather together and form a bolus. When this happens, clumps of material that are too large for the intestines can get caught in the gastrointestinal tract and block the passage of food. The chunk also pushes against the intestinal wall causing tissue damage and necrosis. Necrotic tissue releases toxins in the bloodstream and causes a life-threatening condition.

Canines can’t digest crayons. If your dog eats crayons, they may pass out in the poop or get stuck in the system. Coloring sticks that get stuck in the esophagus cause choking. When they lodge in the digestive tract, they create obstructions. Both are emergency conditions.

Why Can Crayons Be Dangerous For Dogs?

Because dogs can’t digest crayons, they can collect in the digestive system and cause irritations or obstructions. Large enough chunks can also get stuck in the throat and cause your dog to choke. 

When dogs choke, there’s an obstruction in the throat that prevents air from getting to the lungs. The lack of oxygen to the lungs and tissues creates a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate veterinary care. Obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract prevent the passage of food through the system and cause a backup. Additionally, the bolus of material often causes tissue necrosis and death that leads to toxic conditions. This, also, is an emergency situation.

Dogs can’t digest crayons, so they are either pooped out or get stuck somewhere in the system. If chunks of crayon lodge in the throat, they can cause dogs to choke. Boluses of wax and paraffin that get stuck in the intestines create obstructions. Both conditions are emergencies.

How Will My Vet Treat My Dog if He Eats Crayons?

If your dog eats crayons and you take him to the vet, the doctor will examine him and may run some diagnostic tests including bloodwork and x-rays. Treatment depends on the symptoms and findings. 

If your dog is choking, the doctor will initiate emergency care immediately. He may give oxygen as supportive care and sedate your pooch to remove the obstruction. Pups with an intestinal obstruction require surgery. Additionally, the doctor will administer anti-inflammatory medications, pain killers, and IV fluids. 

When vets treat dogs that eat crayons, they usually start with a physical exam and may take x-rays or bloodwork. Choking dogs receive emergency care to remove the obstruction. Pups with intestinal obstructions need surgery. 

How Long Will it Take for My Dog to Recover After He Eats Crayons?

Recovery time after your dog eats crayons varies depending on how the materials affected your pooch. Mild digestive upset will probably last a day or two. It usually takes a few days for dogs to heal from choking because crayons are blunt objects and usually won’t cause extensive damage to the throat. When pups have surgery for an intestinal obstruction, they usually need about 4-6 weeks to recover. 

The recovery time for dogs that eat crayons depending on the effect of the crayons. Mild digestive upset and choking will probably only take a few days. If your dog needs surgery for an obstruction, recovery will take a month or more.

The Final Woof

Fortunately, crayons aren’t toxic for dogs. But they can still cause issues because the materials aren’t digestible. When your dogs eat crayons, you might see multi-colored poop after about a day. However, larger chunks or boluses of crayons can cause choking or obstructions.

When crayons lodge in the throat and cause choking, your dog requires emergency veterinary care. If the materials reach the digestive tract, they can get stuck in the intestines. You may not notice signs of obstruction for a day or two, but when you do you need to take your dog to the vet immediately. He’ll need surgery. The recovery time after your dog eats crayons varies depending on how the materials affect your furbaby.

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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