Have you just observed your dog consume a balloon? Maybe they popped one, perhaps there was a package of balloons open, and your dog took once (or a couple). If so, you are likely now wondering what you need to do and concerned about what might happen if you get it wrong. Well, here’s exactly how you should respond.
So, what should you do if your dog eats a balloon? If your dog eats a balloon, you should first try and remove it from its mouth. If your dog swallows a balloon (or any large piece of it), you should call your veterinarian. They will advise on the best course of action, which may involve bringing them in for assessment/treatment.
Either way, you are going to need to watch your dog carefully in the hours and days that follow.
And it goes without saying that you are going to need to prevent these kinds of things going forward.
Dogs shouldn’t be eating balloons – but you likely know that already.
You don’t need a telling off from me!
Besides, dogs can eat things quickly, and sometimes things happen that fall out of our control.
Nevertheless, let us look at how your dog may respond before proceeding to the best response now; you find yourself in this unfortunate position.
What Will Happen To A Dog That Eats A Balloon?
Balloons of any size or shape are not safe for a dog to eat. Balloons pose a choking risk and, in some cases, a poisoning risk for dogs. Not all dogs that eat a balloon or balloon pieces will have negative consequences, but a dog eating a balloon should be taken seriously.
Balloons come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and materials.
Most balloons are hard for a dog to properly chew, which means they are likely to be swallowed whole.
Balloons that are made of mylar (a polyester film often used to make balloons) or latex can easily become lodged in a dog’s throat and expand or change shape to cover the airway and cause a dog to choke.
If a dog eats only small pieces of a balloon, it will have a lower choking risk but may struggle with stomach upset if the balloon is coated with chemicals or special powders to maintain the quality of the balloon’s latex.
A dog’s stomach cannot break down balloons which means they must move through a dog’s digestive system in the same size and shape they were swallowed.
If a balloon becomes lodged in a dog’s throat, stomach, or intestines, it can cause a blockage that prevents both the balloon and other waste from passing through the dog’s digestive system.
Can A Balloon Kill A Dog?
Sadly yes, eating a balloon can kill a dog. This does not mean that every dog that eats a balloon will die, but simply that balloons pose a risk to the health of any dog who eats them.
Balloons are flexible and hard for a dog to chew with its teeth.
Balloons also do not break down in the same way food does as it passes through a dog.
Small pieces of balloon may pass safely down a dog’s throat, but larger pieces and whole balloons can become stuck in a dog’s throat and cause the dog to choke.
Dislodging a stuck balloon is difficult because as attempts are made to loosen the balloon, it simply changes shape and flexes under pressure instead of responding like a more solid item would to things such as the Heimlich.
Choking is likely the number one hazard for a dog who has eaten a balloon.
Some balloons are coated in special powders and chemicals that help maintain the flexibility and life of the balloon’s material.
These chemicals can be toxic to dogs who swallow them.
While swallowing a single balloon with chemicals may not kill a dog, it can cause them to become very ill.
The smaller the dog, the larger the effect of a small amount of chemicals on their health.
Dogs can also die if they have swallowed a whole balloon, a balloon along with string, or multiple balloons.
When a dog swallows multiple balloons or balloons with string attached, the balloons can pile up and create a gastrointestinal block.
A dog with a blocked digestive tract cannot process food or waste properly and can become very ill.
A dog with a blockage will often be bloated, usually has a limited appetite, may strain to use the bathroom with little to show for results, and show signs of persistent pain and discomfort.
Will My Dog Poop Out A Balloon?
If a dog swallows a balloon and it does not get stuck in the digestive tract, the balloon will leave the body in the dog’s poop. Most balloon materials like foil, mylar, and latex cannot be broken down by a dog’s stomach acid.
If you see bits of a balloon in your dog’s waste, it is recommended you dispose of the waste and the balloon right away.
Getting rid of balloon waste helps prevent the dog from eating the balloon again.
You may also feel some relief knowing the balloon has made it out of your dog’s system.
What To Do Now That Your Dog Has Eaten A Balloon
If your dog has eaten a balloon, there are a few steps you should do to help keep them safe and healthy.
Try To Retrieve The Balloon
Balloons are very chewy and not easily broken down by a dog’s teeth.
This means that if you are present when your dog puts a balloon in its mouth, it is likely you will be able to take the balloon away from them.
If your dog puts a balloon in its mouth, immediately open the dog’s mouth and look for the balloon.
When looking for the balloon, be sure to look under your dog’s tongue and between their gums and cheek. Also, look into the back of their throat.
If you see the balloon, it is best to swipe with one or two fingers into the dog’s mouth to remove the balloon.
Be careful not to push it further down a dog’s throat. If you can see the balloon, but it appears stuck in your dog’s throat, or your dog seems to be choking, call a veterinarian immediately.
Collect Helpful Information
If your dog swallows a balloon, you are most likely going to need to give your veterinarian a call.
If your dog is not choking or acting extremely ill, take time to collect some information about the situation before you call your vet.
Things your vet will likely want to know to include how many balloons you think your dog has eaten, the size of the balloons (Are they small water balloons or large party balloons?), the balloon material, and how long ago the dog ate the balloon, and if the balloon had anything else attached to it like a string or a weight.
Once you have these details, your vet can begin to make a fair assessment of how serious the situation is and what the next best steps might be.
Call Your Veterinarian
If your dog has eaten a balloon, it is wise to call your veterinarian even if you don’t see any immediate problems.
Some veterinarians may tell you to watch and wait, but others can advise you on how to help your dog expel the balloon in vomit or may have you come in for a closer examination.
Many times when a dog eats foreign objects, it is okay to wait for a reaction before calling your veterinarian. But not with balloons.
Because balloons can cause multiple problems, from choking or a blockage to potential poisoning, it is wise to call your vet and let them know about the situation.
This is also helpful if you end up needing to take your dog in due to later onset problems because the vet will already have an idea of what might be making your dog sick.
Watch Your Dog’s Behavior For The Next 24 – 48 Hours
After talking with a veterinarian and following their advice, continue to keep an eye on your dog for the next day or two.
Monitor your dog for any signs of digestion problems or other illnesses.
If your dog suddenly becomes lethargic, begins refusing to eat or drink, drools excessively, or shows signs of pain, call your vet again immediately.
When watching your dog, also keep an eye on them when they are in the yard for a potty break. If you see a balloon in your dog’s poop, clean up the poop right away to prevent the dog from eating it again.
Reduce The Risk Of More Balloon Eating
Some dogs get into the habit of eating strange objects and may try eating balloons more than once.
To help prevent your dog from eating balloons, make sure to keep them stored higher than your dog can reach or in a dog-proof container.
Keep an eye on inflated balloons, and make sure to throw away balloons that begin to deflate or lay on the ground.
If you use water balloons, make sure to clean up broken pieces out of your grass.
Never leave a dog that has a history of eating balloons unattended around balloon decorations.
Balloons are a bright, colorful, and fun way to celebrate a never-ending list of occasions. However, they can also be a chewing temptation for a curious dog or puppy.
As you have discovered.
If you’re still here, it’s time to contact your vet.
Unless you know for sure, they haven’t swallowed any. In that case, they should be okay but still, require close monitoring.
Most dogs enjoy playing with inflated balloons, though some dogs are scared of them. This is more likely if they have had a negative experience with a balloon before, like one that popped following play.
Dogs can pop balloons, either by piercing them with their teeth or with their claws.
Balloons are not safe for dogs; they can scare them if they pop, and they present a number of risks if chewed and swallowed. Choking, chemical poisoning and blockage are all potential issues that they can cause.
Concerned or wondering what other things your dog can/cannot eat. Check out my related guides below:
- My Dog Ate A Rubber Band
- My Dog Ate A Napkin
- My Dog Ate A Scrunchie
- My Dog Ate A Bandaid
- Dog Ate Babybel Wax
- My Dog Ate A Baby Wipe
- Dog Ate Toy Stuffing
- Dog Ate Play-Doh
- Dog Ate Cling Film
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.