Help! My dog ate a paper plate! This is something you do not hear every day, but it is a plausible scenario. Luckily, in most cases, the dog will be fine after simply pooping (or vomiting) out the paper plate. However, complications are possible, so you need to monitor your dog carefully and, if necessary, call the vet.
In this article, we will talk about what happens when dogs eat paper plates. We will cover some common questions, like what to expect and what to do. Being a pet owner includes knowing the answers to many quirky questions.
WHAT HAPPENS IF A DOG EATS A PAPER PLATE?
In most cases, ingesting a paper plate is not a troublesome situation. In fact, your dog is more likely to develop a gastrointestinal upset because of something that was on the paper plate than the plate itself.
Namely, dogs eat paper plates if there is or there was something nice-smelling and delicious on it. For example, you were eating pizza, and there were bread crumbs and condiments on it. Obviously, your dog will be instantly attracted to it and will even dig through the trash in search of the source.
So, more often than not, the dog will pass the paper plate within two days of the dietary indiscretion. However, on rare occasions, it is possible for the paper plate to cause complications. The worst-case scenario (which thankfully is quite rare) includes gastrointestinal obstruction.
Gastrointestinal obstruction is possible if a very small dog consumes an entire paper plate (or more). The chances are also greater if, instead of chewing, it swallowed large pieces of the paper plate whole.
ARE PAPER PLATES BAD FOR DOGS?
Even if the paper plate does not cause any issues and comes through the other end as expected, these practical tools (paper plates) are bad. And when we say bad, we do not mean just for your dog – paper plates are bad for you.
Namely, studies have shown that paper plates, same as other disposable food wares, contain a dangerous chemical called PFAS (per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances). These chemicals leak into the food and can cause adverse health effects if used frequently.
Now, the amount of these compounds in a single paper plate is not enough to cause issues in your dog. However, in the long run, it is highly advisable to consider using other alternatives to paper plates.
SHOULD I BE WORRIED IF MY DOG ATE A PAPER PLATE?
Whether or not you should be worried depends on your dog’s size and the number of paper plates consumed. In general, a large dog that ate one or half a paper plate will have no trouble pooping it out. However, if a small dog eats the entire paper plate, things can be trickier.
Generally speaking, these are some of the signs and symptoms you should be looking out for in case your dog ate a paper plate:
- Lack of appetite
- Decreased water intake
- Abdominal pain
Obviously, these signs and symptoms do not become apparent immediately after the dog eats the paper plate. It can take between a few hours and two to three days before they develop.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY DOG ATE A PAPER PLATE?
If you are sure your dog ate a paper plate (caught them in the act or a paper plate is missing and there is no one else to blame), you need to call your trusted veterinarian and ask for instructions on what to do.
In most cases, the vet will suggest inducing vomiting. This sounds way more complicated than it actually is. All you need is some hydrogen peroxide and a teaspoon or tablespoon for measuring the exact amount.
The recommended dose of hydrogen peroxide is one teaspoon per 5 pounds of body weight. After calculating the amount needed and giving your dog its recommended dose, you should make your dog move around so that the peroxide can mix with the stomach contents and trigger vomiting. You can repeat the same procedure three times in a row if there is no effect. If your dog does not vomit despite the three attempts or if it throws up, but there are no signs of the paper plate in the vomitus, it is highly advisable to monitor your dog carefully and switch its regular food for a bland diet.
Once again, the term may sound science-y, but it is relatively simple. To prepare a bland diet, you need to mix 75% plain boiled white rice with 25% skinless chicken meat or grounded beef.
A Bland diet has strong soothing powers and will prevent digestive upsets caused by the paper plate’s passage. Plus, the fiber in the rice will add bulk to the stool and help with the defecation of the plate.
Ideally, you should feed this diet for 48 hours and regularly check your dog’s poop to see if the paper plate comes out. If the paper plate is still inside your dog after feeding a bland diet for 48 hours, you need to take the problem to the next level and give your vet another call.
Obviously, if your dog starts exhibiting signs of distress earlier, you must not wait for the 48-hour timeframe to pass – instead, you need to call the vet immediately.
HOW CAN I PREVENT MY DOG FROM EATING PAPER PLATES?
As mentioned, the most common reason dogs eat paper plates is because they smell like something tasty or, basically, if they contain food or are covered with leftovers.
Here are some tips on how to prevent your dog from eating paper plates:
- Never leave the table (with paper plates and food) unsupervised – either make sure there is supervision or do not leave the dog in the room.
- Before throwing the used paper plates, put them in a plastic bag and then dispose of them directly in the outside garbage.
- Do not use paper plates in the first place – as we have already explained, paper plates pose a health risk for you too.
SUMMING UP: DOG ATE PAPER PLATE
If your dog ate a paper plate, do not panic – more often than not, the paper plate will come out the same way it entered or through the other end. However, until it comes out, you can support your dog’s digestive system and feed them a bland diet.
Give the paper plate 48 hours and if it is still inside your dog or starts manifesting worrisome signs and symptoms, call the vet. However, this is not a very common scenario. Luckily, most paper plate-related dietary indiscretions are benign.