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My Dog Ate a Nylabone – Our Vet Explains What to Do

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By Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

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Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

BVM BVS (Veterinarian)

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Sometimes, despite our best efforts at choosing “indestructible” and safe toys for our dogs, they find a way to do more than just get their teeth into them. Even the toughest toys can break or be eaten whole, such as Nylabones. This article will address the common questions you may have if your dog ate a Nylabone.Divider 8

What Are Nylabones Made Of?

Nylabone is a company that produces dog chew toys and treats. The nylon bone toy, commonly known as “Nylabones”, are non-edible dog toys and are made of a plastic called nylon, usually molded into a bone shape. While they are made of a non-edible material, Nylabones are generally considered safe to chew on, as long as safety warnings are adhered to.

Can Dogs Get Sick From Nylabones?

Nylabones are dangerous if your dog ingests part of or a whole Nylabone. Nylon—the material Nylabones are made from—is known for its strong wear and tear properties; however, if parts of the plastic break off or if your dog eats a Nylabone whole, this can be dangerous.

How Do I Know if a Toy Is Dangerous for My Dog to Eat?

Nylabone also makes edible chews that look quite similar but can be digested and are made of food material, and therefore, do not present a danger if swallowed. Other toys can look similar—such as rawhide chews and animal bones—so it is important to work out what type of toy your dog has eaten. Read the information on the toy packaging before you give your dog or puppy a toy to ensure it is safe for them and you know of any risks.

Any plastic—or fabric-based toy will be non-edible and not able to be digested. This makes it potentially dangerous if swallowed. It is important that if you think this has happened you contact a veterinarian, even if your dog is not showing any signs of illness, as this could develop into a life-threatening condition.

dog eating a bone
Image Credit: Unsplash

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What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Ate Part of or a Whole Nylabone?

If you think, suspect, or know your dog has eaten a Nylabone, it’s time to act.

Here’s what to do:

1. Prevent further access

The last thing you need is for your dog to carry on swallowing bits whilst you talk to the vet—take away the toy and any shards to prevent any further mishap.

2. Call the vet

Call your veterinarian for advice. If they are not open, you should call the nearest open veterinarian, which may be an emergency service. They’ll need to know the size and weight of your dog, and how much Nylabone is missing. If you know when your dog ate the Nylabone, they’ll need to know that, too.

3. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions

There are several possible treatments your dog may need to prevent or attempt to fix a blockage and these are very dependent on each case  – your veterinarian will know best. Your dog may require monitoring and fluids, and they may get an injection to make them sick (in very specific cases small parts of a toy can be brought up safely through vomiting). If your veterinarian has a gastroscope (a camera on the end of a meter-long tube), and the toy has recently been eaten, they may be able to sedate your dog and remove the toy without surgery, but toys left too long or that are too large may need emergency surgery to remove.

4. Do not treat at home

Whilst some things can be treated from home, Nylabone blockage can be life-threatening and you should take your vet’s advice. Do not make your pet vomit unless your vet specifically tells you to—if it gets stuck coming back up your dog will be in a worse situation and surgery will be more difficult.

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How Can You Tell if a Dog Has a Blockage From a Nylabone?

If your dog goes off its food or shows any signs of vomiting, it is possible that your dog may have a blockage in their gut, especially if they have eaten part of their toy. This can be a life-threatening emergency. It is important to remember that even if you haven’t seen your dog eat something, they may still be at risk. If they show these signs, you must seek advice quickly in these situations.

How Long Can You Leave a Dog With a Blockage?

You cannot wait if you think your dog has a blockage since immediate treatment is required. Untreated cases can become fatal very quickly. The best thing to do when your dog ingests parts (or all!) of a toy such as a Nylabone is to seek advice from your veterinarian. If they think a blockage is likely, an x-ray can be done to confirm.

How Serious Is a Blockage in a Dog?

Blockage of the gastrointestinal tract can be life-threatening. It is important that if treatment is needed, this is done in a suitable time frame as dogs can become sick very quickly due to blockages, and they can be fatal. If you have any concerns, you must contact a veterinarian immediately.

How Do I Choose a Safe Toy for My Dog?

Other things to consider when choosing a toy for your pooch are the size and age of your dog, as you need to ensure the toy is correct for its teeth and jaw size. Choosing a toy that is too small or not durable enough means it is more likely to break apart or be swallowed whole by a larger dog. Always seek advice from professionals, such as pet shop attendants or veterinarians, as to whether a toy is suitable or not.

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Nylabone Safety

Are Nylabones for puppies safe?

Some smaller nylon-based products are puppy chews, aimed at helping with teething in puppies. It is important to replace these with bigger toys as your dog grows. If the toy becomes too small for your dog, or as your dog’s jaw becomes stronger with age, your puppy could break or swallow the toy whole and this could result in a gut blockage.

Similarly, adult chews may be too hard for puppies, and they could fracture or wear down baby teeth or adult teeth as they come in. This damage can be irreversible and could lead to painful dental problems later in your puppy’s life. It is important to only give age-appropriate toys to dogs.

Are Nylabones too hard for a dog’s teeth?

Your dog’s teeth are generally strong enough to chew on a Nylabone as long as a suitable-sized toy has been given to them and they do not have any dental problems. Some toys can also damage teeth if they are unsuitable for your dog’s stage in life—for example if a toy is too hard for a puppy.

Can I leave my dog alone with a Nylabone?

Generally, the advice is that you should never leave your dog unsupervised when chewing something that could be dangerous. You also need to think about what your dog is likely to do with the toy—will they throw it around and retrieve it, or are they more likely to repetitively chew on the toy?

Different dogs play in different ways and the behavior your dog shows with the toy can determine its ‘breaking point’ as the more stress they put on a toy, the more quickly it is likely to become unsuitable. Supervision when playing with toys is always recommended. The edible chews may be more appropriate for leaving your dog alone with or consider stuffing a rubber toy.

Funny dog eating appetizing treat_olena yakobchuk_shutterstock
Credit: Olena Yakobchuk, Shutterstock

When to throw away a Nylabone?

Regular inspection of toys to see if there is damage is also very important. As soon as any signs of wear and tear become apparent, you must remove the toy and not let them play with it any further.

Do I need to clean Nylabones?

It is important to ensure all toys are kept clean and hygienic, as they can harbor bacteria that could make your dog sick. Do not subject Nylabones to high temperatures or strong chemicals which may alter the composition of the plastic in the Nylabone and make it unsafe to chew on. Scrub with a brush under warm water and mild, pet-safe detergent, then rinse thoroughly.

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Final Thoughts

Nylabones are useful toys for dogs, but they need to be kept in good condition and used appropriately. If you think your dog has eaten some or all of a Nylabone, you should contact the nearest open veterinarian for advice. If Nylabones are swallowed they can get stuck and cause damage or a blockage that can be fatal, so prompt action is essential.

This article cannot replace advice from your own veterinarian and if there are any concerns regarding your pet’s health and well-being, veterinary advice must be sought from your veterinarian as soon as possible. Please read dog toy packaging to assess any safety warnings before giving them to your dog.

Featured Image Credit: jameslee, Pixabay

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