My Dog Ate Styrofoam: What Should I Do Now? (Vet Answer)

Before knowing the harmful effects of styrofoam on dogs, it is important to learn what it is. Styrofoam is a lightweight polystyrene foam used for a whole lot of purposes. These include packaging, thermal insulation, building insulation, and so on. Styrofoam is available in several forms. Some of them are styrofoam beads, styrofoam peanuts, styrofoam blocks, and styrofoam beans.

Now, coming to the topic. Can dogs eat styrofoam? The answer is a straight NO since it’s harmful to them. If your dog gets hold of the stuffed toys, bean bags, and other stuff and chews them, he may be at risk of ingesting styrofoam. He should be taken to the emergency room at once. Read on to learn more about what you must do if your dog accidentally consumes styrofoam.

Is Styrofoam Toxic For Dogs?

Is Styrofoam Toxic For Dogs

Since styrofoam is toxic for kids, most companies have started using non-toxic styrofoam. So, it can be said that dogs are at a low risk of suffering from chemical poisoning upon ingesting styrofoam. However, this doesn’t mean that styrofoam would not harm dogs at all.

The ingestion of styrofoam may increase the risk of choking hazards in dogs. Because of the plastic that styrofoam contains, it could cause digestive hazards when eaten in excessive amounts. This is because plastic doesn’t break down when it enters the digestive system. Therefore, it leads to blockages in the intestinal tract.

What Happens if a Dog Eats Styrofoam?

What Happens if a Dog Eats Styrofoam

The effects of styrofoam on dogs depend on the amount ingested. If your dog has consumed styrofoam in small amounts, perhaps once or twice, that shouldn’t cause much damage. However, having a lot of it at once or eating it regularly could cause serious problems.

So, when your dog has eaten one or two styrofoam beans, and if he is doing good, there isn’t much to worry about. It will possibly pass through his poop. It even depends on the dog’s size. A big dog eating small quantities of styrofoam and a small dog consuming the same amount won’t produce similar symptoms in most cases.

One of the symptoms your dog might show if he has eaten a lot of styrofoam balls or beans is a choking hazard. If your dog is choked, he will struggle to breathe and even pace up and down in discomfort.

They’ll also make a peculiar sound, mostly in case of partial blockage. However, if the airway is blocked completely, your dog won’t be able to produce any sound at all. It’s an emergency and needs medical intervention. The slightest delay can be life-threatening.

Another symptom of styrofoam consumption is excessive vomiting. When the chemicals in styrofoam begin to irritate the dog’s stomach, mouth, or throat, he may feel uncomfortable and start throwing up. When the dog’s digestive tract is irritated, it may even result in diarrhea. Your dog may not even be inclined towards eating and also show lethargy and restlessness.

If the consumption has been in large amounts or maybe the dog has eaten small amounts over a long period, then the risk is even more. The liver and kidneys will have a tough time processing styrofoam. In doing so, the organs may eventually collapse. This might put the dog at risk of multiorgan failure.

The bottom line is irrespective of the amount of styrofoam your dog has eaten, and it is always safe to consult a vet. You should do this even if your pup is fine and isn’t showing any symptoms that seem alarming.

What to Do if Your Dog Ingests Styrofoam?

dog eats styrofoam.

If you’ve seen your dog eating styrofoam, it’ll help you act quickly. Lest, you’ll have to rely on your assumptions and your dog’s symptoms (if any). Keep calm, and be tactful in following every step systematically. The initial hours are crucial. The sooner (you act), the better (for your dog). Check out some of the things that you can do when your dog has ingested Styrofoam.

1. Take a Close Look At Your Dog

If you spot your dog’s mouth filled with styrofoam balls, remove them at once. The first thing to do is to keep a close watch on him. Is he breathing fine or facing difficulties? Does he show any other signs which don’t look normal? If yes, you would need to rush him to the emergency immediately. If he looks okay overall, you should still keep a watch on him from time to time. The next 24 hours could be vital.

2. Contact The Vet

Contact The Vet

This is one of the most important to-dos when your dog eats styrofoam. Irrespective of the amount your dog ate, it is always safe to seek a vet’s consultation. Be prepared with some of the basic questions the doctor may ask you.

These include your dog’s weight, how long it has been since his consumption, and the amount he possibly consumed.

They’ll even ask you if your dog shows any discomfort. Another question often asked is whether the styrofoam passed out through your dog’s vomit or poop.

If your dog is fine, your vet might ask you to keep him home and watch over his symptoms. In case your pet has been severely affected, you’ll have to take him to the vet’s office.

3. Make Sure He Doesn’t Get Further Access To Styrofoam

Remove the styrofoam from your dog’s sight at the earliest so that he doesn’t continue eating more of it. It could be a soft toy, meat tray, bean bag, or any other item containing Styrofoam. If you see the beans spilled on the floor, clean them immediately. You should shift your dog to another room as you clear the mess.

4. Don’t Try Any Remedies At Home

Don’t Try Any Remedies At Home

This is a strict no-no. Many owners try making their dogs sick and try inducing vomiting. They do this hoping to take the styrofoam blocks or balls out of the dog’s system. But unknowingly, they end up making matters worse for their dogs than helping them out.

Inducing vomiting has a lot of side effects. When you try to make the dog vomit the styrofoam he ate, it might be stuck while traveling from the stomach to the mouth. Sometimes, your dog could inhale it when it gets to its throat, causing further hazards.

So, never induce vomiting unless the vet advises you. In fact, if the vet tells you to do so, he’ll even prescribe the appropriate medicine and the exact dosage.

5. Follow Your Vet’s Advice

If you want your dog to get proper treatment and heal soon, you’ll have to follow the vet’s advice. Do as directed. After checking your dog, he’ll be able to tell you if your dog requires special monitoring or not.

He will also let you know if your dog needs any blood work or other diagnostic exams. Sometimes your vet could provide your dog with a mild sedative to remove the blockage. All of these could result in a lot of costs. If you face budget problems, you may also discuss it with the vet. He may help you find a solution.

How to Prevent My Dog From Eating Styrofoam?

How to Prevent My Dog From Eating Styrofoam

Styrofoam has harmful consequences on your dog. So you should do your best to ensure that your dog doesn’t get access to it and ingests it. Here are some of the measures you can take to prevent your dog from eating styrofoam. Read on to know more.

1. Teach Commands like Drop or Stop

Command training is a must for dogs when they are 8-12 weeks of age. The initial commands to teach include ‘Stay,’ ‘Heel,’ ‘Down,’ ‘Leave,’ and so on.

Once your dog is good at following commands, it will be easier for you to control him the moment he does something undesirable.

Say, your dog is excitedly moving toward the styrofoam meat tray lying on the table; a firm ‘Stop’ from your end may compel your dog to stop what he is doing. Similarly, if you see your dog holding a soft toy in his mouth, the command ‘Leave it’ may urge him to drop it.

2. Be Cautious

Be Cautious

When you have dogs and kids at home, you should be extra cautious about keeping your belongings. You must be double careful when you open packages with styrofoam beans or peanuts. Ensure you keep the floor clean and pick up the fallen pieces to prevent your dog from putting them into his mouth.

Suppose your dog is highly fascinated by soft toys or bean bags and often indulges in chewing the contents. Then, you should keep them away from your dog’s reach, perhaps in another room.

Also, keep a special watch on the trash can that might contain meat trays, cupcake wrappers, or coffee cups which you may have disposed of. It’ll be a better option to throw the trash into the outside bin so your dog cannot get at it.

Does your dog get overexcited upon seeing a package left by the delivery boy at the door? In that case, you could arrange for the packages to be delivered somewhere outside your pet’s reach.

When you take your dog out on a walk, make him wear a leash. This will help you keep a check on him if he shows the urge to run towards bin spillages he sees on the way.


Is styrofoam equally dangerous for all dogs?

Yes, it is. Like, puppies have a habit of chewing whatever they get. Even a small amount of styrofoam may cause a lot of harm to them. But the size of the dog takes into count when it comes to how much damage it will do to the dog. Regarding adults, especially big-sized dogs, three to four styrofoam beans won’t do too much damage. But, if they consume it regularly, that could pose a problem in the long run.

How will you know that your dog has suffered from an intestinal blockage?

If the styrofoam has blocked your dog’s intestines, he will show several symptoms. These include vomiting, diarrhea, and even breathlessness. He could even suffer from severe abdominal pain. This can be identified through signs like twitching and whining. He may even express his discomfort by sitting in a prayer-like posture. His chest will face toward the ground.

What will the vet do when your dog has eaten styrofoam?

The vet will check your dog thoroughly and, if required, will even conduct blood work. If your pooch has eaten some styrofoam, the vet will perhaps prescribe a laxative. If he diagnoses a blockage, he might suggest surgery to remove it. Sometimes a blockage may be removed with the help of an endoscope.


So, to sum it up, styrofoam isn’t safe for dogs. Therefore you must take the initiative of keeping objects made of styrofoam out of your dog’s reach. Be it a small styrofoam ball or a coffee cup – no matter what your dogs ingest, contacting a vet is of utmost importance. When you keep your dog physically and mentally stimulated, he will not chew whatever he gets at hand. He’ll also not engage in other destructive activities.

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