If your dog has eaten a rubber band, you’re probably very concerned about what might now happen. Is there anything you are going to need to do, specifically, or are you able to wait for your dog to pass it through their digestive tracts safely? Well, here is everything you are going to want to consider and do.
So, what should you do if your dog ate a rubber band? If your dog has eaten a rubber band, it is best to contact a vet urgently. While small rubber bands will usually pass through a dog’s digestive tract without injury, they can get stuck (in the throat, intestines, or around other objects in your dog’s stomach). A vet can ensure safe removal while limiting risk.
You don’t want to take any chances here.
Besides, you could be losing valuable time should the band become entangled.
And what’s more, the procedure will be more challenging and complicated for your vet, not only putting your dog at higher risk but also costing much more to treat, too.
There are some things you can do, though, to support your dog. So keep reading.
But first, why would a dog eat a rubber band, to begin with?
It’s essential to know – you don’t want this happening again, do you?
Why Do Dogs Eat Rubber Bands?
Dogs eat rubber bands for various reasons, but it is most likely that they are just inquisitive and are investigating the band. It is also possible that a dog can swallow a rubber band accidentally – or fragments if it manages to break. Otherwise, it could be that the texture feels good on their teeth.
Dogs Like To Explore
Dogs learn about the world using their mouths and their noses. They love to chew, putting many things into their mouths and swallowing them without thinking of the consequences.
For the dogs, they are simply checking out an object – or an animal – and don’t think twice about whether it will harm them or not.
If an object looks fun or interesting, chances are your dog will want to pick it up and munch on it!
Rubber bands are soft and chewy; sensations that feel good on a dogs teeth.
Besides, they are quite similar to dog toys, in that respect.
So, once they manage to obtain a rubber band and get the chance to chew on it, they’ll likely carry on and look to do so again, given the opportunity.
Rubber Bands Are Readily Available
Rubber bands are everywhere, which is unfortunate if your dog likes chewing on them.
Because they are used in home offices, kitchens, garages, and anywhere else in the home, it’s easy for a dog to find some on the floor.
Some children’s toys have colorful rubber bands that can seem attractive to a dog.
Often, rubber bands get left outside when mail or parcels are being delivered or received.
What Will Happen To A Dog That Eats A Rubber Band?
Most of the time, your dog won’t come to any harm from eating a rubber band. Sometimes, though, the rubber band can create a lot of damage. Consequences can even be fatal.
Can A Dog Pass A Rubber Band?
Most dogs can pass a rubber band, but it does depend on the size of the band, the number of bands consumed along with other factors such as your dog’s age, metabolism, the amount of food in their stomach, and digestive health.
Either way, it doesn’t mean he should.
How Long Will It Take For A Dog To Pass A Rubber Band?
There is no set time for how long it will take for a dog to pass a rubber band.
Most things that your dog eats will pass through his digestive tract within 10 to 24 hours.
However, some objects can take as long as several months!
Why Your Vet Needs to Catch the Rubber Band Before It Reaches the Intestines
If your dog has eaten a rubber band, you’ll want to get him to the vet so that the vet can remove the rubber band before it reaches his intestines.
Once a rubber band reaches the intestines, it can be more difficult to remove – it requires urgent surgery.
The rubber band also threatens your dog’s intestines (see below.)
Can A Dog Die From Eating A Rubber Band?
A dog can die from eating a rubber band, either from choking or from damage to the digestive system.
Dogs can struggle to breathe if a rubber band is stuck inside their throats, to the point where they collapse and lose consciousness. Death can follow if they are not seen immediately.
Even if the dog swallows the rubber band, it can get stuck inside his intestine.
As the intestine tries to digest the rubber band, the material can cause his intestinal track to rupture. This process is called plication.
Simply put, the intestine tries to move the rubber band forward. But if the band is stuck, the dog’s bowel will fold upon itself (a bit like the drawstring on a pair of trousers.)
A hole in the intestine results, leading to peritonitis, often fatal.
Peritonitis can lead to necrosis, where the infection kills the surrounding intestinal tissue.
The resulting blockage can prevent food from going through your dog’s intestines.
What To Do Now Your Dog Has Eaten A Rubber Band
If you think your dog has eaten a rubber band, call your vet immediately. Any signs of complications can appear quite fast, usually within 24 to 48 hours. If you aren’t sure he’s eaten anything unsafe, there are signs to look out for.
Sometimes you don’t see your dog eating something he shouldn’t. This is why it’s essential to know about some indicators that your dog may have swallowed a rubber band or another foreign object.
Here are some symptoms or signs to look out for that can tell you your dog might have eaten something he shouldn’t:
- Pawing at his mouth
- Choking or gagging
- Licking his lips more than usual
- Drooling excessively
- Swollen or painful abdomen
- Not eating suddenly
- Digestive problems such as constipation or diarrhea
Because eating rubber bands can be fatal for your dog, it’s best to take a trip to the vet if you believe it’s possible your dog has eaten a foreign object.
Check Your Dog
If you see your dog is struggling to breathe, get your dog to the vet asap. On the way, check your dog’s mouth for foreign objects, paying attention to:
- Between his gums
- Under his tongue
- The roof of his mouth
- The back of his throat
Sometimes a rubber band gets stuck between teeth and can be partially swallowed, causing choking. If you see the rubber band has NOT been swallowed and it moves easily, you can remove it yourself.
Note: Don’t try to pull out a rubber band that’s stuck in your dog’s throat! You could damage his throat or other sensitive parts. Even if you see the rubber band hanging from his mouth and going back into his throat, don’t be tempted to cut it out yourself. Your vet will sedate your dog to remove the rubber band safely.
Perform The Heimlich Manoeuvre On Your Dog
Here’s how to help your dog remove an obstruction using the Heimlich Manoeuvre.
For Big Dogs
Don’t pick up your big dog because you could inadvertently cause internal damage.
Here’s what to do if your dog is standing:
- Put your arms around his stomach
- Make a fist while clasping your hands together
- Place your hands just behind his ribcage and push firmly, moving your fist up and forward
- Help your dog to lie on his side afterward
If your dog is lying down on his side:
- Put one hand on his back to support him
- Put your other hand just below his ribcage, on his abdomen
- Push your hand up and forward at the same time
For Small Dogs
- Get your dog to lie down on his back
- Put the palm of your hand just below his ribcage on his abdomen
- Push in and forward at the same time
After the Heimlich Manoeuvre, no matter the size of your dog, check his mouth.
You may have dislodged something, and if it’s now in his mouth, it should be loose enough for you to remove yourself.
What Your Vet Will Do
If you’ve brought your dog to the vet, here’s what you can expect. Your vet can do any of the following:
- Sedate your dog to remove the rubber band from his throat or mouth
- Induce vomiting
- Do a physical exam, including X-rays, to check if your dog has swallowed something and if there is a blockage
- Do an ultrasound or an endoscopy. This will determine the likelihood of your dog being able to expel the rubber band himself without the need for your vet to intervene with surgery
- Do an extraction to remove the rubber band without harming the delicate esophagus
- Carry out gastrointestinal surgery, which may necessitate the removal of large parts of your dog’s bowel. This type of surgery is very risky, and some dogs may not survive it
- Recommend surgery of a different type, depending on where the rubber band is in your dog’s system
Note: If your vet needs to carry out extensive procedures on your dog, know that a rubber band can have expensive consequences. Surgery and other procedures can run up vet bills ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
How To Prevent Band Eating From Happening Again
If you’ve just had a scare at the vet and have come home a bit poorer, you will want to know how to stop your dog from eating more rubber bands.
Here are some prevention ideas:
- Restrict access to certain areas of your home by closing doors or using baby gates
- Keep rubber bands and other objects your dog could potentially swallow stored in drawers. Don’t leave such objects on floors, low tables, chairs, or in other places your dog can access
- If your dog opens cabinets, try securing the doors with baby-proof latches
- Keep an eye on your dog when you’re out walking him, even when he’s on a lead. Lots of dogs will pick up irresistible ‘tidbits’ from the ground before their owner can even blink to see what they’ve found
- Explore your home on your hands and knees to get a sense of any hazards your dog could encounter. See your home from his viewpoint, and remove any objects you encounter that could end up in his curious mouth
- Always watch your dog when he chews on toys or treats
- Revise your inspection of areas of your home that might become accessible to your dog as he grows: desktops, countertops, kitchen counters, etc.
For what are relatively boring objects, rubber bands can cause a lot of damage to a dog if they are eaten.
Can being the most important word here.
The truth is, some dogs are able to safely pass them.
But that doesn’t mean you should leave it ‘to chance’.
So, if you know that your dog has swallowed a band, get in contact with a vet as soon as you can.
The fast you act, the easier it will be for your vet to get it up and out of the system.
And they can support your dog during the process too.
Concerned or wondering what other things your dog can/cannot eat. Check out my related guides below:
- My Dog Ate A Scrunchie
- My Dog Ate A Napkin
- My Dog Ate A Baby Wipe
- My Dog Ate A Bandaid
- Dog Ate A Balloon
- Dog Ate Babybel Wax
- Dog Ate Toy Stuffing
- Dog Ate Cling Film
I am an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.