My Dog Ate a Nerf Bullet: What To Do? (Signs To Check)

If you are a dog owner, then it’s likely you have noticed that dogs love to explore things, and especially with their mouths. Unfortunately, most of the time, canines don’t make the best choice of what to put in their mouth and what not to, and that more often causes trouble.

This time, your canine came across one of your kid’s misplaced Nerf bullets, and as usual, went ahead to satisfy their curiosity. However, things didn’t go as anyone would want— your canine ended up swallowing it!

Now, as a loving dog owner, that will trigger many questions and concerns. And if you are here to find the solution, then definitely this is your day! Here, we will be telling you what to do next if your dog ate a nerf bullet. But just before we get there, first things first;

What Are Nerf Bullets?

Nerf bullets, also called Nerf darts, are foam projectiles used in Nerf guns. And for the sake of the uninitiated, Nerf guns are simply toy guns produced by Hasbro.

Kids love Nerf guns. In fact, they love them so much. These toy guns have been existing for quite some time. Actually, I bet most of us, if not all, have used Nerf guns at some point in our childhood. It’s several decades since their invention, and they are still up there when it comes to fun!

Nerf bullets used in Nerf guns come in a wide variety of shapes and colors. However, they more often are cylindrical. And while they are fun and harmless to humans when used for indoor games, it’s different for dogs.  Leaving these darts all over the place after use can attract severe consequences for your pet.

What Happens If Your Dog Eats a Nerf Bullet?

While the NERF foam may not cause any toxicity to your dog, the big size of the darts may cause a few issues when ingested. Again, these bullets are indigestible, and that means they remain a threat all through their time in the body.

After swallowing a Nerf bullet, your Fido may experience intestinal perforations and damage to vital organs. It may not look like it, but that attractive and seemingly harmless Nerf dart can be life-threatening after it gets to your dog’s system.

Again, a Nerf bullet can cause your dog to choke. Choking is simply an obstructed airway. When it happens, it blocks oxygen from reaching the lungs, exposing your dog to the risk of organ failure and other dangerous conditions.

After you suspect that your dog is choking, check their airway and remove anything that may be blocking it. If you can see a part of the Nerf bullet in your dog’s mouth, try and swipe it away with your finger to see if it’s possible to remove it. Do it gently to avoid launching it deeper.

Where the Nerf bullet seems to be very tight, avoid any more attempts to remove it yourself. Instead, reach the vet immediately. Taking things into your own hands can cause the bullet to break apart and cause even more damage.

Where you succeed with the removal after the first try, take your pup to the vet. Your pet may seem okay, but you never know how they are feeling. In most cases, long periods without oxygen require hospitalization.

In addition, choking can leave painful damage on your dog’s throat that may get worse with time. In other words, you can’t just afford to dodge that trip to the vet when choking happens!

Unfortunately, at times telling that your dog has ingested a Nerf bullet is easier said than done. But is there a way you can know after your pup eats a Nerf bullet? Well, that and more on the section below!

Can Dogs Eat Nerf Bullets?

Yes, your dog can eat a Nerf bullet, but it’s not healthy for them. This foam bullet doesn’t contain any nutrients, so it won’t benefit your pup in any way. However, it can put the life of your Fido on the line.

Dogs are curious beings, and it’s natural. They will explore anything that looks strange in their environment without giving a thought to the potential consequences.

Again, these furry friends are intelligent. However, that doesn’t mean they can make a sound judgment on what to put inside their mouth. Even with one of the cleverest dogs, there isn’t much you can do to keep them from exploring everything in their environment, at least not for an attractive toy like a Nerf bullet.

And when that small soft foam projectile enters your dog’s mouth, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen next. After mixing with the dog’s saliva, Nerf dart becomes more slippery and can easily slip down your dog’s gut.

And after ingestion of non-food items like toys or balls, there are a thousand and one possible outcomes.

Signs That Your Dog Has Ingested a Nerf Bullet

If you aren’t sure whether or not your dog has eaten a Nerf bullet, keep an eye out for the following signs:

  • Conflict in bowel movements (they should be firm and regular)
  • Lack of appetite
  • Vomiting blood or attempting to vomit up the object. When this happens, it can damage your dog’s throat, cause ulcers, and increase the risk of infection.
  • Inability to swallow properly

In addition, you can also check out for signs of choking.

According to the Animal Emergency Center, they include;

  • Excessive drooling
  • Coughing
  • Pawing at their mouth
  • Breathing problems caused by a blockage in your dog’s throat
  • Appearing panicked
  • Becoming unconscious

The above signs are just a few of the many that will help you tell that your dog has eaten a Nerf bullet. But again, note that sometimes your dog may not show any sign at all, but that doesn’t mean that the ingested object won’t cause issues.

After noticing any of the above signs, take your Fido to the vet immediately. The vet will remove the Nerf bullet and begin treatment, which mainly consists of flushing out your dog’s digestive system.

Again, the vet may recommend a bronchoscopy to check for any damage to your dog’s throat. Depending on the condition of your pet, the dog doctor may also administer intravenous fluids to combat dehydration caused by vomiting blood.

Can Nerf Bullet Cause Blockage in the Dog’s Gastrointestinal Tract?

Yes, Nerf bullet can cause blockage in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract. When it happens, it prevents food and liquids from passing down, thus preventing digestion. In some cases, the blockage may limit blood flow in the affected area causing more adverse effects.

What really causes gastrointestinal obstruction is the fact that Nerf bullets contain non-digestible components. Again, these darts are way too big to move through your dog’s gut without causing issues.

Where there’s a gastrointestinal blockage, you may notice the following;

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain and sometimes swelling
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration

If you notice any of the above signs, find your way to the vet as soon as possible. Without prompt medical care, this blockage can cause more severe effects and even death!

Immediately you get to the vet, the dog doctor will carry out a thorough physical examination of your dog. Where they can’t identify blockage using this method, the vet may perform X-rays and ultrasounds. The two methods will identify the blockage and its location.

Treatment will then depend on the location of the blockage. Where in the stomach, the vet may opt for an endoscopic procedure to remove the Nerf bullet. However, where deep down the intestines, surgery should be the only way to get rid of it.

So generally, your dog eating a Nerf bullet can be dangerous, and solving the problem can be a real hassle. That’s why you always need to keep your dog from coming near Nerf bullets.

How To Prevent Your Dog From Eating a Nerf Bullet Again?

Unlike humans, dogs take time to learn. The fact that your dog nearly died the last time they ate a Nerf bullet doesn’t mean they won’t try to swallow it again. They can do it again and again, so make sure you keep them away from Nerf bullets.

And yes, the surefire way to avoid the trouble from recurring is by being extremely careful with leaving around any type of small object such as Nerf bullets that you don’t want your dog to eat. Always place all Nerf bullets in unreachable areas, such as high shelves or cabinets, or simply keep them away from your dog’s reach.

In addition, train juniors on how to manage their Nerf guns and bullets. Let them know that it can be dangerous when ingested by the four-pawed member of the family. That will go a long way to prevent accidents. Keep in mind that the goal is to keep your Fido as far as possible from Nerf bullets.

Also, you can train your dog when the little ones are playing with Nerf bullets and then free them once the kids are done playing and have collected all the nerf darts. That way, you will have minimized the chances of your dog reaching the nerf bullet.

Conclusion

While they are much fun when using them for indoor games, Nerf bullets have their dark side— they can be dangerous for dogs when ingested. After eating this type of dart, your dog may develop life-threatening issues such as gastrointestinal blockage and organ failure.

That’s why after you suspect that your dog has eaten a Nerf bullet, or see one of the signs of ingestion, act with speed and visit the vet. Otherwise, Nerf bullet may cause permanent organ damage or even kill your Fido.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.