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As you finally put the finishing touches on your epic 6020 piece Hogwarts Castle LEGO build (I found it just as an example for this article, but wow it’s seriously cool), you realize that you seem to short a brick or four.
Glancing at your best canine pal that’s been patiently sitting by your side while you puzzled away, you see the slightest flash of LEGO Harry Potter’s lightning-scarred forehead just as it disappears into his cavernous maw.
So now, here you are; wondering, “What’s going to happen if my dog ate LEGO pieces?!”
As scary (and inconvenient to your building efforts) as it may be, most dogs are likely going to be absolutely fine even if they swallow one or two pieces of LEGO.
Small, indigestible objects such as LEGOs and ear plugs are usually eliminated quite easily through natural bowel movements. Feeding your dog with bulking foods such as rice, bread, or pumpkin is often recommended to help expedite this process.
Since they are generally quite small in size and blunt/rounded in shape, LEGO blocks are unlikely to cause many issues as it travels through a dog.
However, it is technically within the realm of possibility for LEGO pieces to cause issues such as choking or internal blockage.
Choking and stomach obstructions are serious, potentially life-threatening scenarios that would require urgent medical intervention.
Keep in mind that both of these complications are more likely to occur in smaller dogs than large ones, as well as when large amounts of LEGO (for example, whole interconnected chunks) are consumed.
If you are concerned, consulting with your vet immediately after the incident is the ideal move. However, more often than not, your dog should poop out the bricks within a couple of days at most!
- What Happens If A Dog Eats Lego?
- What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Lego? 4 Simple Steps
- Why Do Dogs Eat LEGOs?
- How Do I Prevent My Dog From Eating Lego In The Future?
- In Summary
In 90% of cases? Nothing at all.
Ingesting one or two small LEGO pieces will not create any significant issues for most dogs. In fact, LEGO blocks that are swallowed can be excreted relatively quickly- sometimes even in a span of a few hours!
However, until the dog has definitively eliminated the LEGO pieces from its body, they will still be at potential risk of other complications– however small of a possibility that may be.
If the dog ate large connected blocks or swallowed a significant number of the toy pieces, they may be at a higher risk of choking or internal blockage. This will be even more likely if the pup is of a smaller breed.
One other potential issue that could arise from the ingestion of LEGO is internal laceration injury to the stomach or intestines resulting from any sharp edges that the pieces might have.
For example, the roofs of some of the towers of Hogwarts Castle set I linked to above sure look like they could do some damage!
If eaten, the pointy edges could conceivably scrape along the walls of the digestive tract, causing potential injury and inflammation.
First things first: After a dog swallows LEGO, the first issue to look out for is choking. Choking can be deduced through signs such as:
- Excessive drooling
- Gagging, retching, or making weird mouth movements
- Breathing difficulties
If your pooch doesn’t seem to be exhibiting any signs of choking, the next problem to keep in mind is intestinal obstruction.
An internal blockage caused by the consumption of foreign objects can stop or slow down blood flow. This can subsequently lead to tissue death, which is as life-threatening as it sounds. Signs of an internal blockage include:
- Abdominal tenderness or pain
- Abnormal bowel movements, such as diarrhea or constipation
Aside from choking and internal blockage, other less common issues which could arise include:
- Intussusception (where one segment of the intestine telescopes into another segment)
- Peritonitis (Inflammation of abdominal cavity membranes)
Some of the common symptoms that accompany the above conditions include:
Again, in the majority of cases of LEGO consumption, your dog should be completely fine! The above afflictions are just some of the worst case scenarios that pet owners should educate themselves about.
If you do notice any of the negative signs and symptoms listed, take your dog to the vet immediately for evaluation and treatment.
However, if your dog is behaving normally and has a regular appetite, the only thing you will need to monitor over the next few days is their stool (woohoo…) in order to check for any excreted LEGO pieces.
There is zero chance that plastic will dissolve in a dog’s stomach.
LEGOs are made of a plastic called Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) which is strong, stable, and resilient to decomposition under normal circumstances.
There is certainly no danger of any ingested pieces being worn down even by a canine’s strongly acidic digestive system!
Instead, plastic materials- whether that be LEGOs or other objects such as pacifiers– will simply pass through a dog’s digestive tract in the majority of cases.
Unless the plastic is coated in or contaminated by a poisonous substance such as antifreeze, you won’t usually have to worry about it having any toxic effects.
Rather than being poisoned by its consumption, the most prominent dangers dogs face when plastic is eaten are still the aforementioned hazards of choking, stomach blockage, or perforation.
Don’t panic! Your beloved pet is likely to be just fine, and running through this checklist below will help a concerned pet parent to cover all the bases.
check if your dog is choking. If they are gasping for air or behaving frantically, it could be a sign that the LEGO piece is stuck in its airway. In this case, perform the Heimlich Maneuver (shown in the video below) immediately.
Even if your dog doesn’t appear to be choking, examine its mouth and see if the LEGO piece is still inside. There’s always a chance that it could be still lodged or stuck on the pup’s teeth or between its gums.
If the LEGO has yet to be swallowed, try to remove it safely with your fingers only (no long or sharp objects!). Don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian for help if you cannot do it yourself.
Consult with your vet or an animal emergency hotline if your dog ate the LEGO brick within the last 30 minutes or so. Explain the size and shape of the LEGO, as well as how long ago the incident happened.
In some cases, you could be professionally advised to induce vomiting* in your dog.
*Induced vomiting is typically performed within the confines of a veterinary clinic unless the situation is an emergency and the action is advised by a vet. Do not attempt to induce vomiting without professional advice.*
To induce vomiting, you may need to feed your pooch a light meal first as this will help to envelop and bring up the LEGO piece safely.
A solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide should then be provided, either given straight or mixed with milk or bread. Administer a teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10 pounds of bodyweight to induce vomiting.
After your dog has taken the solution, encourage it to move around so that the contents are stirred up within its stomach. If your pup doesn’t vomit within 15 minutes, provide a second dose.
If your dog once again does not vomit after the second attempt, do not give it a subsequent dose! This will cause unnecessary discomfort and distress to your dog.
Instead, it’s now simply time to monitor your dog and wait for the LEGO to take its natural course and appear in the feces.
If over 30 minutes has already passed since the LEGO was ingested, do not try to induce vomiting. The toy will already have travelled further into the digestive tract, and induced vomiting will no longer be an effective option.
If you feel uncomfortable providing hydrogen peroxide by yourself at home, either take your pet to the nearest vet for the procedure to be completed or simply wait for the LEGO to pass through to its stool!
While you are waiting for the LEGO to be passed, providing bulky, fiber-rich foods can greatly expedite the process.
Bulky foods like rice, bread, or pumpkin paste form a type of cushioning around the swallowed LEGO, which makes it easier for it to pass through the intestines.
If the LEGO has yet to appear in their stool after 3 days, or if your dog begins showing signs of internal blockage, immediately call your vet. This is particularly important if your dog is smaller in stature.
There are several different signs of internal blockage that may be exhibited depending on severity. These can include:
- Lack of appetite (Not eating or drinking normally)
- Excessive drooling
Once at the vet, procedures which may be utilized to locate the embedded LEGO piece include an endoscopy, x-ray or ultrasound. In serious cases, procedures such as surgery and endoscopic removal could be necessary to remove an obstructing object.
The usual transit time of small plastic toys such as LEGOs through a canine’s digestive tract is around 8 to 10 hours.
However this is not definite, and the actual time taken can either be longer or shorter. It is quite common to see foreign objects turning up in poop 24 hours or more after they were eaten!
The speed of which foreign materials are processed through a dog’s bowels can be influenced by several different factors, such as the size, shape, and quantity of the plastic eaten.
For example, plastic toys that are rounded and smooth will likely pass through a dog relatively rapidly. This is because there is little chance that they become caught, snagged, or stuck inside the intestines.
However, plastic toys that are larger (like some squeakers) or have an odd, angular shape may experience more resistance when “making their way downtown”, so to speak.
Therefore, the key with any situation where plastic has been eaten is to keep a diligent eye on your pup and to spot any potential warning signs as they arise. If a day or two passes without the toy reappearing, it may be a good idea to take your pet to the vet for an examination.
If you own a dog, you will already know that they are infinitely curious creatures that stop at nothing to have a taste of the objects that surround them.
Some dogs, especially younger ones or puppies, can still be learning what they can and cannot eat.
There are also many other different drivers that could cause dogs to consume LEGOS.
For example, in households with human children, LEGO pieces are often stained with traces of foods or sauces. As you might imagine, this makes the toys irresistibly appetizing to the average canine- who might then decide to take a chomp!
Puppies that are in their teething stage will naturally gravitate towards any hard, chewable material they can find in order to try to reduce the discomfort that they are experiencing. If there are LEGO bricks lying around, these undoubtedly become extremely appealing targets.
Dogs that are prone to stress or separation anxiety may also find it comforting to chew on their owner’s belongings when they are gone. so may help to release endorphins that allow them to feel safer.
(On a related note, this may explain why I frequently come home to decapitated chew toys every time I have to leave my young corgi boy Olliver at home by himself for a few hours!)
Finally, if you find that your canine pal has a habit of trying to eat every inedible object under the sun that it can get its paws on, it could potentially have a condition called pica.
Pica is a relatively common issue whereby a dog will attempt to eat the most seemingly unappealing objects, such as stones, wooden sticks, or fabric. Pica is a whole separate topic of its own, and theories as to why it occurs range from boredom to unmet nutritional needs.
Stopping your dog from eating LEGOs is actually a pretty straightforward thing to accomplish: Simply make sure that they are out of reach in the first place!
As intelligent as some dogs are, the undeniable fact is that they do not have opposable thumbs. As a result, most dogs will not be able to foil even the simplest of closed cupboards or containers.
If you don’t want to pack away a LEGO project in the middle of a build, then leave the bricks on a high table or in a restricted room where your dog cannot access them freely. This way, you can be sure to come back to your nearly-finished masterpiece without a portion of it missing.
Additionally, it’s often a great idea to wash your hands prior to a LEGO session.
Not only is this hygienic (especially important during the current COVID climate!), but it will also help to ensure that the LEGO toys are not contaminated by any traces of food that may leave an appetizing scent for a passing pooch.
If your dog really can’t keep his paws off your toys, then it may be time to provide him with some fun toys of his own!
Some dogs have a particular hankering for that plastic-ky taste, in which case chew toys such as the ever popular KONG is an excellent choice.
Alternatively, some dogs prefer to chew on wood-textured toys like the Petstages DogWood. Click HERE to read our extensive article on the best wood-like toys available on the market!
In extreme cases of LEGO consumption where a dog wants only LEGO and nothing but LEGO, a basket muzzle may be required. These muzzles prevent dogs from eating recklessly while still allowing them to drink and breathe normally.
However, muzzles are of course best used as a temporary measure while the root cause is addressed. Whether compulsive chewing is caused by stress, anxiety, or behavioral factors, any positive long-term results can only be achieved by working through the issues with your pup.
This can be as easy as teaching it to obey commands such as “No” and “Leave”, or may involve appointments with a vet or canine behaviorist in order to remedy the problem.
As worrying as it may be (especially if it’s your first time as a dog owner encountering such things), your dog is most likely going to be just fine after eating a piece or two of LEGO.
More often than not, your dog will simply eliminate the LEGO when it poops over the next day or two.
However, LEGO consumption can be a concern if multiple pieces or large blocks of LEGO bricks were swallowed at once- especially if it involves a smaller dog.
The potential issues of eating LEGO include choking, internal blockage, and lacerating damage. Solutions to overcome these specific problems involve the use of the Heimlich Maneuver, induced vomiting, and feeding of bulky foods to promote elimination.
In severe cases of stomach obstruction, more complex procedures such as surgery or endoscopic removal may be required.
Prompt action and a vet’s experienced guidance will help to quickly resolve this issue in most instances.
Taking preventative measures to stop LEGO consumption through proper storage or behavioral training will go a long way to avoiding the same troublesome scenario in the future!
Heather Abraham is an owner of two dogs, one cat, a leopard gecko, and a parrot (who her dad still cannot teach bad words to), and an avid blogger. From the time she was a young girl, she always felt a connection with pets. She brings her love of every type of pet to you, with information on animal nutrition, medication, toys, beds, and everything else in between. Along with newly-on-board veterinarian DVM editor Elena, she puts pups first while offering other various fun tidbits along the way.