My Dog Ate a Toothpick: What to Do Now? (Signs & Symptoms)

Dogs are extremely curious animals and well, food lovers too! Due to this reason, if they find anything in their way, they are going to eat it. Sometimes, they may eat an unharmful object whereas sometimes, it could be potentially harmful.

Toothpicks lie on the harmful side as they’re quite sharp and can rupture your dog’s intestinal walls. Hence, you need to take special care if your dog ate toothpicks. Now, don’t panic as we have answered almost every question that you need to know if your dog ate a toothpick. So, read on!

What Should You Do if Your Dog Ate a Toothpick?

If you find that your dog ate a toothpick, you need to take immediate action. Given below are a few things that you need to do.

1. Contact a Veterinarian Immediately

If your dog ate a toothpick, you shouldn’t wait for any symptoms to show. Instead, we strongly recommend contacting a veterinarian immediately.

A vet can conduct a thorough examination of your dog to ensure that there’s no life-threatening damage caused. If required, they may suggest operating on your dog to remove the toothpick.

Toothpicks lie on the dangerous side as they’re sharp and can harm your dog. So, there’s nothing you can do except call up a professional and let them inspect the damage.

2. Check What Type of Toothpicks They Ate

In case you cannot get in the touch of a veterinarian, it’s best to check what type of toothpicks your dog ate. Now, there are two types of toothpicks available:

  • Wood Toothpicks: These toothpicks are less harmful. Moreover, if your dog ingested wood toothpicks, there are chances that they chewed it first. Hence, there would be lesser chances of internal bleeding or wounds.
  • Plastic Toothpicks: These toothpicks are definitely more harmful than wood toothpicks. It’s because a dog’s intestinal juices aren’t strong enough to break down plastic. Thus, there’s an increased risk of internal bleeding.

However, in both cases, there’s a risk of internal wounds. So, it’s best that you try to find a veterinarian as soon as possible and take your little furry friend to them.

3. Feed Soft Food To Your Dog

If your dog ate a toothpick, they might be in discomfort. Hence, you need to try to ease them up by providing soft food to them.

Peanut butter is one of the best soft foods to feed to your dog. All you need to do is spread a generous amount of peanut butter on white bread and feed it to your dog.

You can try this out as the soft foods can go inside your dog’s body and cover the sharp toothpick. Thus, reducing the chances of internal wounds or bleeding. Moreover, it can also help the toothpick to pass easily through your dog’s intestine and expel out through feces.

After you have fed your dog peanut butter and bread, it’s best to check their feces to find the toothpick. Yes, this is going to be gross but you need to do it for your dog’s safety.

Just try to wear thin gloves and inspect your dog’s poop by squeezing it to find the toothpick piece. If it has come out, your dog is no more in danger!

You can also try giving them other soft foods, like Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage). It can help in removing the toothpick from the dog’s body.

4. Do Not Try To Induce Vomiting

A lot of dog owners suggest inducing vomiting if your dog has ingested a foreign object. But, remember that, in the case of toothpicks, you should avoid this method.

Toothpicks have extremely pointed edges. So, if you try to induce vomiting and the toothpick comes out of the esophagus, the sharpened edges may cause wounds and hurt your dog.

5 Signs To Lookout if Your Dog Ate a Toothpick

Did you catch your dog near the box of toothpicks? Are you unsure whether they actually ate one or not? Well, in such cases, you need to be on the lookout for some signs always. These include:

1. Fever

A dog’s body temperature is anywhere between 101°F and 102°F. So, if you find that the temperature is more than that, your dog may have an infection and consequently, a fever.

This happens because a toothpick can rupture the digestive tract of a dog and lead to ulcerative cuts. Thus, allowing the bacteria to grow and cause an infection.

Hence, a fever is indicative that your dog ate a toothpick.

2. Abdominal Pain

Another obvious sign that your dog ate a toothpick is when they are walking awkwardly. This shows that something is wrong with their abdomen due to which they are experiencing abdominal pain.

3. Blood in Feces or Vomit

If you see this sign, then it means that your dog is in serious pain. Whenever blood appears in a dog’s feces or vomit, it means that there is internal bleeding.

Hence, the toothpick may have inflicted internal wounds due to which there’s blood in your dog’s feces or vomit. In such a condition, you need to take your dog to a veterinarian as soon as possible.

4. Constipation

Constipation isn’t a very common sign if your dog has ingested a toothpick. But, it’s quite common in small dogs as they may have difficulty passing their stools. It could be because the toothpick is obstructing the passage of stools.

5. Lack of Appetite

Dogs love to eat food! So, if your dog isn’t eating food after you caught them near the toothpicks, the chances are that they may have eaten a toothpick.

So, if you see any of the above-mentioned signs, it’s mostly confirmed that your dog ate a toothpick. For further confirmation, it’s best to take them to a vet clinic.

What Could Happen if Your Dog Swallowed a Toothpick?

The effect of a toothpick on a dog depends a lot on your dog’s size. Let’s understand why.

As a general rule, if you have a large dog that ate a small foreign object, it may not be that risky. The dog may easily digest the object or excrete it out fully. On the other hand, if you have a small dog, the issue can become serious.

If your small dog has ingested a toothpick, it can cause a puncture in the dog’s intestinal walls. This could cause the gut bacteria to mix with the bloodstream and cause bacterial infection. It may also lead to a condition known as Peritonitis, a type of serious inflammation in dogs.

Moreover, the toothpick can get stuck in your dog’s little throat and cause suffocation.

You may find your dog experiencing some other health issues such as:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Increased body temperature
  • Poisoning
  • Inability to stand
  • Gastrointestinal inflammation
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

However, note that there is a risk involved with toothpicks in the case of both small and big dogs. So, it is best to contact a professional immediately rather than waiting for any symptoms to appear.

Can a Dog’s Stomach Acid Dissolve Wood?

A dog’s stomach may be able to dissolve wood. But, it cannot dissolve wood, the way it can dissolve food. Hence, there’s always a risk here that the wood may cause intestinal blockage or even internal wounds.

If you suspect that your dog has eaten something related to wood, like wood toothpicks or wood chips, then you need to look for intestinal blockage symptoms. These include:

  • Repetitive vomiting and diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration in body
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constant whining

If your dog doesn’t have any symptoms, then it may not have a blockage.

How Long Does It Take for a Dog to Pass a Toothpick?

As mentioned earlier, a dog’s stomach may have difficulty breaking down plastic or wood. Hence, it may take time to pass a toothpick.

Note that it usually takes about 3 to 5 days for your dog to pass a toothpick. If it gets more than that, you need to see a veterinarian and consult them regarding this.

Can Dogs Eat Toothpicks?

Dogs should never eat toothpicks. It’s because they’re extremely sharp and made up of materials such as wood and plastic. Both materials are hard to break down and cannot pass through stools easily. Moreover, their sharp and pointed surface can cause the intestinal walls to rupture and lead to internal bleeding.

So, if your dog ate a toothpick, you need to take them to the vet clinic immediately, regardless of the symptoms. A thorough examination is needed in this case. But, if you cannot find a vet, try to give soft foods to your dog, like peanut butter. This might ease up the process of excreting out the toothpick.

Last but not the least, if you have a dog at home, try to avoid keeping toothpicks. But, if you still need them, place them in areas where your dog cannot find them, like cabinets.

Also, if you discard your toothpicks in the dustbin, try to pet-proof your dustbin such that the dog cannot access it.

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.

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