Your Dog Ate a Non Food Item: What Should You Do?

Small toys, socks, coins, rubber bands – inquisitive pups will swallow just about anything. If the item is small and not toxic, it may pass through your dog’s system without causing any health issues. However, if the item is large or sharp, it may cause an obstruction in your dog’s gastrointestinal tract, leading to a medical emergency that may cost you your puppy’s life.

It’s crucial to keep your dog away from any small or potentially hazardous items. If your dog keeps trying to eat non-food items, consult your vet so they can address any underlying medical or behavioral issues.

Signs Your Dog Ate a Non-Food Item

If your dog ate a non-food item, you may notice the following signs:

  1. Vomiting, choking or gagging
  2. Loss of appetite
  3. Change in bowel movements: Your dog may have diarrhea or constipation, or its stool may contain the swallowed item.
  4. Distended abdomen or abdominal pain and discomfort: Your dog may seem uncomfortable or in pain when you touch its abdomen.
  5. Lethargy or restlessness
  6. Drooling and pawing at the mouth
  7. Shaking or trouble breathing

Sometimes signs that your dog has swallowed a foreign object may not be so obvious. That’s why it’s important to note any changes in your dog’s usual behavior. Always treat the ingestion of non-food items as a medical emergency. And time is crucial. If the non-food item moves into the intestinal tract, it may cause a dangerous obstruction that can only be resolved through surgery.

What’s more, it’s important to determine whether the swallowed item is potentially harmful to your dog. Suppose you’re unsure of its toxicity, contact your vet immediately for further guidance. You can also get in touch with the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center (APCC). They’re available 24/7 and can provide first aid recommendations.

What To Do When Your Dog Ingests a Non-Food Item

Call your veterinarian. In such a case, your vet is best suited to determine the appropriate course of action. Be sure to share the following information:

  • What non-food item was swallowed
  • How long ago your dog ate the non-food item
  • Your dog’s age, breed, and weight
  • Any symptoms or unusual changes in behavior

Typically, the vet will induce vomiting to get rid of the foreign object. Never induce vomiting yourself without first speaking to a veterinarian or the APCC. An X-ray may be required to determine what and where the foreign object is and whether it’s causing an intestinal obstruction. Once located, the object will be removed, and any intestinal damage will be repaired.


Pups have a tendency to swallow strings – those from turkey or barbeque roasts are particularly appealing. Never pull on the visible end of the string, whether it’s hanging out the mouth or the puppy’s rectum. It could be embedded in tissue within the digestive tract, and pulling on the strings could injure the intestines, which could end up being fatal.