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My Dog Ate a Scrunchie: Our Vet Explains What to Do

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By Dr. Karyn Kanowski

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Written by

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Most of us know not to leave food lying around where our dogs can reach it, after all, we can’t expect them to resist the temptation of a tasty pie or ham sandwich. Unfortunately, a lot of dogs can’t even be trusted with non-edible items! Many dogs have wound up on the operating table because they couldn’t resist swallowing a corn cob, tennis ball, or “delicious” stone from the garden. So, if your dog eats a scrunchie, what do you do? Panic? Ignore it and hope it goes away? Actually, the answer lies somewhere in between these two extremes.

Let’s start with the good news: If your dog ate your scrunchie, most of the time, you will just be down a scrunchie. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and we need to know what can go wrong in this scenario and what to look out for.

The information that follows will explain what sort of complications could happen if your dog eats a scrunchie, as well as what to do if it happens.

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My Dog Ate a Scrunchie!

Nothing moves faster than a dog that’s been asked “What’s that in your mouth?”

Dogs of all ages, breeds, and sizes are known for their ability to turn just about anything into a chew toy, and something like a soft, springy scrunchie is bound to be appealing. Whether or not a swallowed scrunchie is going to cause a problem is largely going to come down to three things: the size of the dog, the size of the scrunchie, and whether or not they’ve done this sort of thing before. Why does that matter?

Fluffy brown dog chewing on a scrunchie
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

Will a Scrunchie Get Stuck Inside?

If your dog has ever had to have surgery to remove something from their intestine, they will have scar tissue where the incision was made. This creates a narrow area in the intestine where objects could become stuck in the future. So, if your dog has a history of eating foreign bodies, you need to be extra vigilant.

Scrunchies are soft, and most of the time, they will travel through the gastrointestinal tract and appear unaltered at the other end. Although we suggest monitoring their poop for the appearance of your hair accessory, we don’t recommend putting it back to use, no matter how good your washing detergent is!

If we are dealing with a particularly voluminous scrunchie, a number of scrunches, or a smaller dog, they could end up with a blockage.

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What to Do if Your Dog Ate a Scrunchie

First, don’t panic. There is a pretty good chance that they will be fine. It would be sensible to call your vet for advice. If they consider your dog to have a higher risk of ending up with a blockage, they may recommend giving them an injection to make them vomit. Don’t attempt to do this at home without speaking to your vet.

If it is a low-risk scenario (e.g., a large dog with no history of intestinal surgery), often the best thing to do is to encourage the scrunchie to make its way to the natural exit. Offer your dog small, frequent meals, but do not allow them to drink lots of water at once. Little and often is the best way to keep everything moving in the right direction.

Dog biting a scrunchie
Image Credit: sophiecat, Shutterstock

What if It Doesn’t Come Out?

If your dog eats something like a scrunchie, it is always a good idea to keep a close eye on their poop so you know when it has successfully made its way out. Usually, this should happen within 24–48 hours, but not always.

Sometimes, foreign objects can sit in the stomach for extended periods until they finally get pushed out into the intestines. Soft objects, like a scrunchie, can take a longer time to reach the rectum than food waste.

If your dog is eating, drinking, and is bright and happy, it may just mean you need to wait a little longer. However, if your dog shows any signs of being unwell or uncomfortable, it’s time to take them to the vet.

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Why Are Foreign Bodies More Common in Larger Dogs?

You might think that small dogs would get small foreign body obstructions and large dogs would get large foreign body obstructions, and sometimes, that is the case. However, the incidence of intestinal foreign bodies is significantly higher in dogs over 20 pounds.

The reason for this is likely because the mouth size of small dogs simply won’t allow them to swallow objects like socks, corn cobs, or scrunchies. Most things small enough for them to swallow will also be small enough to pass through the intestines.

Larger dogs, however, can manage to swallow a sizable object that can cause issues down the line. The further along the intestines an object travels, the drier it becomes, making it harder and harder for it to work its way out.

The brown dog bites the bamboo
Image Credit: Benzkrat, Shutterstock

How Do I Know if My Dog Has an Obstruction?

Most foreign body obstructions occur in the small intestines, but sometimes, objects can become lodged in the esophagus or in the stomach, where it empties into the intestines. The most obvious sign of an obstruction is vomiting, but there may be other signs as well, including:

  • Vomiting shortly after eating
  • Inappetence
  • No feces or small amount of diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Painful abdomen
  • Dehydration (sunken eyes, dry gums)
  • Dark pink or red gums

If your dog is showing any of these signs, particularly after eating something they shouldn’t, they need to be seen by a vet urgently.

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Conclusion

If your dog ate a scrunchie, they will likely be fine. Speak to your vet to get the most accurate advice for your situation, but there’s a good chance that they will advise you to keep your dog hydrated by offering them food and water. You should see the scrunchie appear in their poop after a day or so, but sometimes it might take a bit longer.

Any dog can end up with a foreign body obstruction, but it is more common in larger dogs. Remember to keep tempting items out of reach of your dog, even things that don’t seem appetizing to us! If your dog eats something they shouldn’t, your first call should always be to your vet, as they will be able to assess the specific risks for your dog.


Featured Image Credit: Evgeniya Solovieva, Shutterstock

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