My Dog Ate Crayons

colorful crayons

Some dogs will eat almost anything. If yours is one of them, you have probably been on the phone to your vet more than once, asking if the non-food item that Rover just ate will hurt him. If that non-food item was crayons, your dog should be ok. We will talk about what can happen when your dog eats crayons and what signs and symptoms you as a pet owner should watch out for after your dog eats crayons.

Why Did My Dog Eat Crayons?

The main question you might have is, why did my dog eat crayons in the first place? Crayons are found in most households with children, and are a curiosity to dogs. They like the smell of these wax, non-toxic, colorful sticks, and might just want to see what they taste like. If your dog is a natural chewer, crayons likely won’t be safe in your home. Puppies who are teething might like the feel of chewing on crayons, to soothe their discomfort. Some dogs will eat anything they come across, food or not, always looking for a snack. Others could eat crayons out of boredom, especially if they are alone in the house and have no other stimulation. Eating crayons could also be a sign of a medical or behavioral problem in dogs. If your dog repeatedly eats crayons, take them in to the vet for a check-up.

Are Crayons Toxic to Dogs?

In the United States, crayons are designed to be non-toxic. They are made from paraffin wax mixed with chemical pigments that give them their colors. In the 1990s, the Binney & Smith Company, the main manufacturer of crayons in the U.S., started marketing crayons that smelled like various foods. This led to young children trying to eat the crayons, so the company changed its tactics, instead making crayons that smelled like non-edible things.

In the U.S., all art materials that are sold must be non-toxic, by law (specifically, ASTM D-4236 safety standards). Crayons, therefore, are non-toxic, which means that they won’t poison you, or your dog. However, ingesting a large amount of crayons could result in gastrointestinal upset. It can also cause your dog to choke, if crayons become lodged in their throat. This is one reason why crayons should never be left where dogs can get to them, especially while you are out of the house. In this way, crayons could quickly kill your dog by making them choke. Crayons can also lead to intestinal or esophageal blockage, requiring an operation to remove the obstruction.

What Should I Do If My Dog Just Ate Crayons?

If you are at home and know that your dog just ate crayons, there are some things you should and should not do:

  • Prevent your dog from eating any more crayons (duh, right?). Remove the crayons from the dog’s reach and secure them.
  • Do not try to make your dog vomit. This could be more harmful to your dog than actually eating the crayons.
  • Contact your vet, even if your dog seems to be ok. It is always important to seek medical advice from your vet. Note your dog’s age, breed, and weight, and approximately how many crayons they have eaten when you call. Depending upon how many crayons your dog has eaten, your vet might want you to bring them in to the office right away.
  • Monitor your dog for symptoms, which are outlined in the next section.

What Symptoms Should I Look for If My Dog Ate Crayons?

Symptoms that you should watch out for if your dog has ingested crayons include, but are not limited to:

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should immediately contact your vet for guidance.

How Can I Keep Crayons Away from My Dog?

Although they aren’t necessarily toxic to dogs, crayons can pose a choking hazard, and should be kept out of your dog’s reach if at all possible. Here are some tips to help you to do so:

  • Keep crayons put away, in boxes in drawers or on high shelves in closets, when not in use. Train your children (hah! Easier said than done) to put crayons away when they are done using them, telling them that they could hurt Fido if left out.
  • Keep your trash secured, away from your dog’s reach. If a crayon is in a trashcan, and that trashcan is accessible, never fear, your dog will find it. Keep trashcans inside pantries where dogs can’t access them, or buy a trashcan with a locking lid.
  • Use baby gates. Baby and pet gates can keep dogs from entering rooms where crayons are being used. If you absolutely cannot trust your kids to put crayons away from the dog’s reach when they have finished using them, a gate can be a handy tool to keep your dog safely from them.

Most dogs that eat crayons will be ok. However, it’s always a good idea to notify your vet when this happens. Keep a close eye on your dog and keep the crayons out of your dog’s reach so this doesn’t happen again.

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