Why Does My Dog Eat Plastic? Is This Unhealthy?

The reason your dog is eating plastic is because they enjoy chewing on it! This is especially true for bored or energetic dogs. The best way to fix this habit is to get them new toys to chew on. When you see your dog eating plastic, replace it with a new toy.

Most dog owners know that some dogs will eat just about anything. If you have a dog that eats everything in sight, you know what it’s like to constantly be on the lookout for anything that might catch the attention of your dog, such as socks, bottles, and of course, every dog’s favorite thing to chew on – plastic.

Dogs eating plastic perplexes a lot of dog owners, which leads us to the question of why dogs eat plastic in the first place. Do dogs eat it because it’s shiny? Do they eat it because it tastes good? Why are dogs always trying to eat plastic?

Keep reading to find out why dogs eat plastic, if eating plastic is harmful to your dog, and how to prevent this habit if it has become an issue.

Why Do Dogs Chew On Plastic? A General Overview

Long story short, dogs eat (or chew on) plastic because they enjoy chewing! When dogs play with toys, some completely destroy the toy. They rip it to shreds or chew it so much that all the stuffing falls out.

Similarly, when dogs have a toy that’s made of plastic, or they find something made of plastic to chew, they chew it into bits and eat the pieces.

Most veterinarians deduce that this behavior stems from a dog’s prey drive, a desire to hunt and eat prey. The dogs are pretending as if the toy is prey to satisfy their hunting instincts.

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There are risks associated with dogs eating plastic, including intestine obstruction and injuries to the GI tract. On the bright side, plastic itself isn’t toxic, so you don’t need to worry about your dog having plastic poisoning.

The best way to prevent your pet from eating plastic is to prevent access to plastic in the first place. This means throwing away toys made of plastic and buying toys that aren’t made of plastic.

Additionally, you need to make sure your dog won’t be able to get into the trash bins and on your countertops, which are prime spots for plastic bottles and other things they shouldn’t be chewing.

The next best way to prevent your dog from eating plastic is to train them not to chew on things that aren’t theirs. An excellent way to train your dog not to chew on anything but their toys is to use positive reinforcement and deterrent spray. If you need help identifying what items your dog chews, put up a nanny camera or watch your dog while you’re home with them.

Why Dogs Should Not Chew or Eat Plastic

When a dog eats plastic, it’s not necessarily the chemicals in the plastic that could harm them. It’s the choking hazard. Depending on how big the piece of plastic is, your dog could choke on it.

Additionally, plastic develops sharp edges when it’s chewed, so there’s a chance the plastic could cut their mouth or somewhere in the GI tract. This could cause discomfort and potentially lead to an infection.

Why Has My Dog Developed This Habit?

Dogs chew on random items for multiple reasons: boredom, relieving stress, and mental or physical exercise are all great examples. Chewing is a good way for dogs to have something to do when they get bored.

For puppies, it helps satisfy the urge when teething. Like humans, puppies lose their baby teeth and it’s painful when their adult teeth come in. Thus, they begin to gnaw on anything they can find – furniture, toys, and sometimes even you!

If a puppy chews plastic, there’s a good chance that they’ll swallow it, which could lead to an obstruction in the GI tract. Depending on the severity of the situation, it could require surgery to get the piece of plastic out.

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While puppies are a little more susceptible to swallowing things they shouldn’t, any dog is vulnerable to swallowing dangerous items such as toys made of plastic or plastic water bottles.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating Plastic

1. Get Rid of Plastic Toys

The most obvious way to prevent your dog from eating plastic is to get rid of all of their plastic toys and other small plastic items around the house. Your dog can’t eat something that isn’t there!

Of course, it’s almost impossible to never use plastic. A lot of things that you use daily are made of plastic. To keep your dog from getting to these items, keep a close eye on your trash cans and watch where you put the items.

2. Teach Your Dog Not to Chew

Yes, you can teach your dog not to chew! Whenever you find your dog chewing on one of their toys, give them a treat or affection. This is known as positive reinforcement.

However, when your dog is chewing on something they’re not supposed to be, take the item away, say something along the lines of “No,” and give them one of their toys to chew.

Eventually, your dog will learn which toys are theirs and which items they’re not supposed to touch.

3. Buy New Toys

If your dog doesn’t have enough toys, they’ll start chewing on things they’re not supposed to be chewing on. A simple solution is to buy your pet new toys that aren’t made of plastic.

As soon as your dog has easy access to something that you won’t chastise them for, the dog is much more likely to chew on it.

Dogs are people pleasers. In other words, they want to please their owner and be a good boy/girl. When your dog has multiple toys to choose from, it will likely keep them from chewing on your furniture or digging through the trash.

4. Use Dog Deterrent Sprays

Before I go any further, be aware that some dogs will still chew things that have a deterrent on them. Even though deterrent spray is bitter, there will still be dogs out there who won’t be discouraged.

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With that said, it’s still a good option for most dogs. Deterrent sprays are non-toxic sprays you can spray on an object to prevent your dog from chewing on it. Dogs won’t be a big fan of the taste, so they’ll stop chewing it.

5. Watch Your Dog

Keep a close eye on your dog whenever you’re home. If you aren’t home, use a nanny camera that records video. Your dog might be chewing on things you aren’t aware of.

After you determine what they’re chewing, follow at least one of the steps above. Either get rid of all plastic toys, teach your dog not to chew, buy new toys that aren’t made of plastic, or use dog deterrent sprays if your dog is chewing big things such as furniture or decor.

Vigilance is key. Eventually, your dog will realize that you don’t appreciate them chewing on plastic or anything other than the toys you bought for them.

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