If your dog ate crayons, you may feel concerned and wonder whether your dog will need veterinary attention. As with many things in life, there are no sure answers, because there are many factors to consider such as the size of the dog, the type of crayons ingested and the quantity ingested. Fortunately, most crayons are non-toxic, considering that they are purposely made for children, and children, (just like dogs!) may happen to mouth and eat crayons when they are left unsupervised, even for a few seconds.
My Dog Ate Crayons
If your dog ate crayons, there are several factors that you will need to consider and one of them is the type of crayons consumed. Crayons made for kids from reputable companies are in general simply made of paraffin wax and nontoxic pigments. The Crayola brand usually has the words "non-toxic" featured somewhere on their boxes.
If you are uncertain of the content of the crayons your dog ate, you can call the manufacturer's phone number to make sure there are no toxic ingredients. Also, look for any cautionary statements on the box.
However, even if your dog ate a non-toxic type of crayons, he is not out of the woods. Eating too many crayons can cause your dog an upset stomach, warns veterinarian Dr. Kara. Dogs with an upset stomach will typically have vomiting, diarrhea or both. If your dog has a mild upset upset stomach, you can try some dog upset stomach remedies, however, consider that some symptoms of an upset stomach may be similar to those of a blockage (read below).
In the best case scenario, your dog may not suffer any ill effects from ingesting a non-toxic crayon or two, but there are other factors that need to be considered such as the size of the dog and whether your dog tends to chew things up or swallow them whole.
The most concerning issue with a dog eating non-toxic crayons (other than choking) is the crayon not being able to pass through the digestive tract and causing a blockage.
"The good news is that as long as the crayons are made in the US they won't be toxic to him (kids have been known to eat them too so they are now made with nontoxic products only in the US), although if he eats enough of them he can surely get a stomach ache."~Dr. Kara, veterinarian
Signs of a Blockage
If your dog ate crayons, the chances for a blockage depend on several factors. For instance, if your dog is small, there are higher chances for something to get blocked through the digestive tract compared to a larger dog.
Another factor is your dog's tendency to chew. If your dog tends to chew things up, there are better chances for the item chewed to pass through compared to a dog who gulps things down without chewing.
And then, there is quantity, if your dog eats a great deal of crayons, there are higher chances that they may be difficult to pass, causing a blockage due to volume. Not to mention, that risks are higher if your dog also ingested parts of the box.
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When a dog develops a blockage, an item gets stuck somewhere in the digestive tract and prevents food from passing. Affected dogs develop loss of appetite, abdominal pain, lethargy, vomiting as they are unable to keep food down. Normally, these signs develop in the next 2 to 3 days following the dog's crayon eating incident. If your dog develops one or more of these signs, a vet trip is highly recommended.
"Crayons are not typically a problem when chewed and ingested. If they were not chewed into small enough pieces, the major concern would be a foreign body obstruction. If chewed up though, they should pass fine. "~Dr. Gary, veterinarian
Keeping an Eye on Stools
Of course, if you know your dog ate crayons, you can exhale a sigh of relief if you see the crayons come out of the stool in the next day or two. You may therefore be lucky to see the crayon in the stool.
Some dogs owners who are extra concerned may even go on to inspect the stool using a stick to check for presence of crayons within the stool, in these case, they aren't readily identifiable by visual observation only.
Crayons have a tendency to pass through a dog's digestive tract without being absorbed. Because of this feature, veterinarians may sometimes suggest feeding dogs crayon shavings of different colors for the purpose of differentiating the stools of different cats or dogs in multiple-pet households.
This strategy comes especially handy for dog owners who need to submit stool samples to the vet but own dogs of roughly the same body weight, making it difficult to tell “whose is whose," explains veterinarian Dr. Randolph.
At the Vet's Office
In most cases, a dog eating crayons leads to no major complications other than perhaps a mild transient bout of vomiting and/or or diarrhea.
If your dog ate crayons very recently, (no longer than 2 hours ago), you may want to call your vet and ask if you should induce vomiting. Your vet can give you details instructions on safe ways to induce vomiting in dogs. To induce vomiting you would give your dog 3% hydrogen peroxide at a dose of 1 ml per pound explains veterinarian Dr. B.
If your dog ate crayons, and your dog is acting ill, you may want to play it safe and see your vet. Your vet will likely ask you information pertaining the ingestion such as when the crayons were consumed, how many, whether the dog also consumed the box, and what symptoms you are seeing. It may help to bring along the package of the crayons.
Your vet will perform then a physical exam, checking your dog's gums, respiratory rate and pulse. Your vet may then palpate your dog's abdomen and check for signs of any abdominal distension or pain. Next, the vet will likely take some x-rays of the abdomen so to check for signs of the foreign item stuck somewhere in the digestive tract. In the instance that the x-rays reveal a true blockage, the vet may suggest closely monitoring the situation or surgery.