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My Dog Ate a Crayon: Should I Be Worried? (Vet Answer)

Written by: Dr. Iulia Mihai, DVM MSc (Veterinarian)

Last Updated on March 24, 2024 by Dogster Team

My Dog Ate a Crayon: Should I Be Worried? (Vet Answer)

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Dr. Iulia Mihai Photo

WRITTEN BY

Dr. Iulia Mihai

DVM MSc (Veterinarian)

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

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Dogs are known for putting anything in their mouths, including art supplies. This happens especially when they are puppies because they use their mouths to explore their environment. If your dog ate a crayon, there’s usually no need to worry, as crayons are not toxic to pets. That said, in some rare cases, swallowed crayons can lead to stomach upset, obstruction, or choking.

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Should I Worry If My Dog Eats a Crayon?

Crayons are made of paraffin wax and pigment and are considered non-toxic. After all, the companies that make crayons make them for children, and just like dogs, kids like to put everything they touch in their mouths.

So, if your dog eats a crayon, it most often will come out the other side nearly unchanged. Sometimes, though, dogs can get an upset digestive system. Other problems that can occur rarely are choking/suffocation if the crayon gets stuck in your dog’s throat or obstruction of the digestive tract (esophagus, stomach, or intestine), especially if you have a small dog that eats a large piece of crayon or several crayons.

Colorful oil pastels photographed on a white background
Image Credit: NASDAQ chives, Shutterstock

What to Watch For If Your Dog Eats a Crayon

Crayons are not toxic to dogs and can pass through their digestive system unchanged. Large dogs will usually have no problems if they eat a crayon. However, small and toy dogs may experience some digestive issues.

1. Clinical Signs of an Upset Stomach

Even if crayons are not considered toxic to dogs, they can still cause an upset stomach. Clinical signs may include:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea or lack of bowel movement
  • Lack of appetite
  • Gas
  • Lethargy

If these clinical signs occur after your dog ate a crayon, a visit to the vet is essential.

Dog vomit in the living room
Image Credit: A-photographyy, Shutterstock

2. Clinical Signs of an Obstruction

If your dog ingests multiple crayons, they can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach, or intestine, causing an obstruction. Unfortunately, obstruction of the digestive tract is a condition that can put your dog’s life in danger, so you must act fast. In general, surgery is needed to remove the obstruction for your dog to be saved. The clinical signs may include:

  • Vomiting (repetitively)
  • Diarrhea (possibly bloody)
  • Weakness
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Whining
  • Hunching

If these clinical signs occur or they persist or worsen, contact the veterinarian immediately for an evaluation.


3. Clinical Signs of Choking

In other cases, the crayons don’t even reach your dog’s stomach because they get stuck in the throat, possibly causing suffocation. Clinical signs may include:

  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Distress
  • Drooling
  • Coughing
  • Gagging
  • Retching
  • Blue gums (cyanosis)
  • Panic
  • Panting
  • Dog lying down or sitting in unusual positions

This is considered a medical emergency and you must act immediately.

gray and white Pit Bull Terrier mixed breed dog drooling
Image By: Mary Swift, Shutterstock
Here is what you can do:
  • Gently open your dog’s mouth, and try to dislodge the crayon(s) with your fingers or hand (if they are visible). Be careful not to hurt yourself.
  • If step one does not work or the crayons are not visible, get to a vet immediately.

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What You Should Do If Your Dog Ate a Crayon

If you see your dog with a crayon in their mouth, remove it as soon as possible, and prevent them from consuming more. The more crayons they ingest, the more severe the effects will be on your pet. If you have seen or suspect that your dog has already eaten a crayon (or several), here is what you can do:

  1. Do not induce vomiting at home. Always talk to your vet when your dog swallows a foreign body, including a crayon (even if it’s not toxic). In some cases, it may not be necessary to do this. In addition, inducing vomiting can be harmful to your dog.
  2. Monitor your dog. Watch your dog’s behavior and the clinical signs that may appear after they swallow a crayon. If they stop eating, vomit, or have diarrhea, contact the vet. You should also monitor your dog’s bowel movements to see if they pass the crayons in their stool. If your dog does not have a bowel movement, contact the veterinarian because it is possible that the crayons got stuck somewhere in the digestive tract.
  3. Contact the veterinarian. Contact the veterinarian even if your dog seems fine. They can tell you exactly what to do depending on your pet’s breed and weight and how many crayons they have ingested. If your dog has eaten several crayons, contact the vet immediately because they can get stuck in the esophagus, stomach, or intestine and put your pet’s life in danger.

How to Prevent Your Dog From Eating Crayons

Even if the chances of your dog getting sick from eating crayons are small, you must take certain measures to prevent this behavior in the future. After all, even if crayons are not considered dangerous for dogs, there is a possibility that your dog may consume something else that could harm them next time.

Therefore, here's what you can do:
  • Keep your pet away from your kids’ rooms, especially if your kids don’t clean up (yet) after themselves. Keep your dog away from the trash bin, garage, or any other place that presents a potential risk.
  • Give your dog chew toys or chew treats, especially if you have a puppy that is teething. These items can also help your dog with boredom, which is why they usually chew and eat things that they aren’t supposed to.
  • Contact a vet or animal behaviorist who can help you with your dog’s chewing problem.
shiba inu dog chewing a kong toy
Image By: AlyssaRich, Shutterstock

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Conclusion

Swallowing a crayon should not cause concern because in most cases, nothing bad will happen, and there is no need for treatment or veterinary intervention. However, in rare cases, some dogs (especially small ones) can suffer from digestive problems (vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain).

In severe cases, such as when your dog swallows several crayons, there may be a risk of esophageal, stomach, or intestinal blockage. Blockage of the digestive system is considered a medical emergency because it can put the pet’s life in danger. Moreover, there are cases in which crayons do not reach the stomach because they get stuck in the throat, which can lead to suffocation. In this case, you must intervene immediately to remove the crayons from your dog’s throat.


Featured Image Credit: pticelov, Shutterstock

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