A dog at the vet for swallowing foreign objects, like hair ties.

My Dog Ate a Hair Tie!

Some dogs will eat just about anything. That doesn’t mean, however, that they can or should. Dogs have resilient stomachs and digestive tracts, but their less-than-picky palates can easily get the better of them. Certain household objects could present a choking or poisoning risk and even result in intestinal blockages if swallowed.

Hair ties are hard to keep track of and easy for dogs to get a hold of. Does swallowing a hair tie mean your dog should take a trip to the emergency veterinarian? Not necessarily, but it should definitely get your attention.

Risks of Swallowing a Hair Tie

For such small objects, hair ties can spell big trouble for hungry dogs. The issues can start immediately if a hair tie becomes lodged in your dog’s throat. In these instances, dogs will typically cough and gag (similar to a person choking on food or a foreign object). It’s not hard to tell if your dog is choking, but addressing the issue could be tricky. Always exercise extreme caution while attempting to dislodge foreign objects.

Farther down the digestive tract, hair ties present additional complications. Small dogs in particular may find them challenging or impossible to pass. As such, they can become stuck in the stomach or intestines, causing discomfort and more severe symptoms. In extreme cases, foreign objects like hair ties may puncture or tear a dog’s intestinal walls. This can lead to potentially life-threatening inflammation and infection if it’s not addressed quickly.

The prognosis for dogs who have ingested hair ties and other foreign objects is generally good. Depending on where the object is lodged, your veterinarian may remove it via endoscopy or through a more invasive surgical procedure.

Signs of Trouble

Have some of your hair ties gone missing? Keep a close eye on your dog, because they may be the culprit. Watch out for vomiting and look for hair ties in their stool. If they’re vomiting or experiencing diarrhea and you still can’t find the hair tie, they may be suffering from an intestinal obstruction.

Watch out for these additional warning signs too:

Over time, these symptoms can lead to additional complications like severe dehydration and metabolic changes. Quick intervention is key for getting foreign bodies removed and dogs on the mend.

A Warning from Vets

A Texas veterinarian went viral in 2019 after sharing an alarming postoperative photo. The vet removed not one or two, but over 100 hair ties from the stomach of a Goldendoodle. That was in addition to some underwear, candy wrappers, and other indigestible foreign objects. It’s unclear how long the dog had been snacking on hair ties, but their symptoms included constipation, skittishness, and a sudden loss of appetite. The event provided a reminder to pet owners across the globe. Objects like hair ties should be kept in drawers and closed containers, away from the hungry snouts of pets.

While ingesting small foreign objects isn’t always cause for concern, some “snacks” will immediately put your dog’s health at risk. If your dog is acting unusual or showing other warning signs, reach out to your veterinarian immediately.