Dog Ate String From Rope Toy: Should You Worry?

Watching your dog play with a toy is fun and the dog gets to entertain itself. But if you see that the dog ate string from rope toy, you might wonder if it’s dangerous.

If the dog ends up eating some string, this may result in unwanted consequences. Left untreated, the string will pile up in the intestines causing an intestinal blockage. To prevent this, you need to contact a veterinarian. But there are a few other things you can do.

What Happens If A Dog Eats String From A Rope Toy?

Sometimes, the dog will be totally fine after eating a string. However, the string may get stuck somewhere in the intestines and cause a dangerous intestinal blockage. This will result in a dangerous situation that can end fatally. You should be able to notice the warning signs to prevent complications.

The biggest danger is when the dog swallows other things besides the string. Cotton stuffing, plastic, rubber, and fabric can all cause intestinal blockage. Tinier strands of rope are usually less dangerous, but they will still hurt the dog. A blockage will also occur if the dog eats uncooked rice or other food that it cannot digest properly.

What Symptoms Can You Expect?

The symptoms will depend on where the blockage is exactly. If the strings pile up in the esophagus, the dog will feel that something is stuck and try to get it out. It will also have difficulty swallowing. If the strings pile up in the intestines or colon they will cause an obstruction. 

A common symptom in all cases is vomiting. If the dog doesn’t vomit out the string, then you can expect the string in the dog’s poop. If both don’t happen, you need to alert the vet because the dog may need medical attention. Other symptoms you can notice are:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Dysphagia
  • Excessive thirst
  • Unusual behavior
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain

The dog may also lick your legs to get your attention to its condition. If you are unsure that the dog has eaten string, keep a close eye on it for the next few days. If any symptoms show, contact the vet.

Can The Dog Die From This?

Unfortunately, dogs can die from swallowing too much string, or the whole toy. The strings will cause a blockage. The digestive tract will try to move this obstruction by tightening up thus causing the intestines to intertwine. This results in enormous pain for the dog.

The intertwined intestines might lacerate and then perforate. This will cause spillage of the intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity and the dog will become septic. Sepsis causes a septic shock which can end fatally.

Besides this, obstruction can cause severe electrolyte disbalance. This might lead to kidney failure which can be fatal.

Can A Dog Pass A Rope Toy?

If the dog swallowed string, it can technically poop it out. But this is not always the case. Oftentimes, the string gets tangled up and stuck in the intestines causing a blockage. This leads to complications. You should keep an eye on the dog for some time to ensure it poops it out.

Strings are made from a material that can not get broken up by the digestive tract juices. So the string has to take the perfect form to get through the whole tract. Usually, a balled-up string can pass much more easily.

How Long Does It Take?

You can expect the dog to poop out the string in around 24-48 hours after ingestion. However, the more you wait for it to poop, the bigger the chance that the string will cause a problem.

The diet of the dog will play a part in the amount of time it takes. Make sure to check all the poops during the waiting period. If nothing comes out, take the dog to a vet.

What To Do After The Dog Eats A String

After the dog ate string, there are a few things you can do to prevent further complications. If you are certain that it ingested a lot of string, you need to act fast. Preventing the loss of a pet is one of the responsibilities of a dog owner.

Observe The Situation

Before you do anything, observe what exactly happened. See how much of the toy the dog ate. The smaller the amount, the better. See if the dog is showing any symptoms. If it has the string still in its mouth, don’t pull on it. You might damage its mouth or esophagus. If the dog is actively choking, attempt a Heimlich maneuver to help.

Give A Diet Full Of Fiber

If the dog ate rope, a high-fiber diet might help get it out of its system. A high-fiber diet includes stuff like cottage cheese, canned pumpkin, high-fiber bread, and mashed potatoes. The fiber will help to make the poop softer and take it out easier. Besides the diet, give lots of exercise to the dog. You can also give it a probiotic supplement.

Take The Dog To A Vet

The best thing you can do to prevent any complications is to take the dog to a vet. They will diagnose the problem and provide the needed treatment. They might try to induce vomiting or use an endoscope to get rid of the string. In some situations, surgery might be needed to clean the obstructed intestines. If you act on time, you will prevent an avoidable death.

How Much Will The Vet Visit Cost You?

If the dog ate a rope toy, it might need a surgical procedure to get it out. The operation to clean up the intestines is not simple, so you should expect a big price. 

In the US, the price for this operation will cost you around $700-$7000, depending on the state, vet, and other things. This will also cover the exam, medication, and additional tests if needed. Because the price is so high, invest in proper pet insurance that will cover this operation.

Preventing Future Complications

Because the whole ordeal is dangerous for the dog and stressful for you, you should try to prevent it from happening again

Choose The Toys Carefully

When buying a toy for your dog, avoid materials like fleece, plush, vinyl, or late. All toys that pose a choking hazard should be avoided. This also goes for toys that have ingestible small parts. Golf balls and rawhide chews should also be avoided. Buy toys that are larger than the dog’s mouth.

Store Them Safely

Dog rope toys aren’t safe so they should be kept somewhere where the dog can’t access them. Only get the toys out when you can monitor the dog while playing. If you notice that the dog is chewing the toy and swallowing parts, remove it from its reach.

Dog Proof The House

You want to make the house as safe as possible for your pup. This means removing any objects that could potentially be a hazard. Get your shoes in a proper drawer because the dog might chew on them and choke on their strings. Keep small and dangerous objects out of reach.

Other Ways To Stop Boredom

The dog might resort to chewing and being destructive because it’s bored. This will usually be accompanied by hyperactive behavior, excessive barking, and urinating and defecating everywhere. To prevent this, you need to exercise your dog so it gets to spend its pent-up energy. Mental stimulation is also important.

Find Toy Replacements

There are safer alternatives to rope toys. One option is getting a Kong toy which you can fill with treats. It is made for chewing and is not a choking hazard. A rubber tug toy is great for tugging as it doesn’t have any dangerous strings. Another option is a rubber Kong frisbee.

A Chihuahua pulling on a rope toy

Dog Ate String From Rope Toy – Conclusion

Rope toys can be a fun and cheap thing for your dog to play with. But they can also be a danger to the dog’s health. If the dog ends up ingesting the string from the rope toy, it can cause some complications.

Usually, the string piles up in the intestines causing damage. This will present with symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, abdominal pain, and unusual behavior. If the situation gets complicated, the intestines may perforate, which will end fatally if not treated.

Luckily, the dog may pass the rope in 1-2 days. If you are not sure that the dog ingested string, you can supervise it for a few days. If it shows any symptoms, take it to a vet. They will know what to do.


How do dogs act when they have an intestinal blockage?

Dogs with intestinal blockage will show unusual behavior. Their abdominal pain will make them take a bowing down position to relieve the pain. They won’t allow you to touch their painful tummy and will groan due to the pain.

How long can a dog survive with a blockage?

If the dog ate string from rope toy, it can live with the blockage for about 3-7 days. During these days, signs of obstruction will occur. You can expect vomiting, abdominal pain, and constipation among other symptoms.

Will a dog still eat if it has a blockage?

Usually, dogs that have a blockage will avoid eating food. This is also described as a loss of appetite. However, some dogs may eat but then vomit out all the food.

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