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What happens if my dog eats string?

Dogs experience the world through their mouth and nose. This can lead them to eat things that aren’t food, including string. If your dog eats string, there are some potential complications you should know about. 

What happens if my dog eats string?

Dogs eating things they shouldn’t is a common problem. Unfortunately, it can be dangerous for your pooch. If they eat string, it is possible for it to cause serious harm. 

Intestinal Perforations 

String doesn’t have any sharp points, so it’s less dangerous for your pooch than many other objects they may eat. However, it is possible for it to cause cuts in your dog’s digestive tract. 

Your dog eats a long piece of string. Muscle contractions begin pushing it through the digestive tract. The problem is that one end of the string can make its way further down the digestive tract than the other end. 

This can pull the string tight. It can become wrapped around parts of the digestive tract. Then, the muscle contractions can cause the string to get tighter. This can lead to cuts or injuries to the digestive tract, as the string cuts into what it is wrapped around. 

These cuts can cause internal bleeding. The tight string can restrict bloodflow as well. When cuts occur, your pooch is at a high risk of bacterial infection. 

Intestinal Obstruction 

This is unlikely to happen with string, but you should be aware of the possibility. An intestinal obstruction occurs when something your dog ingested can’t make its way through the intestines. 

The intestines are designed to accommodate digested food and waste. When an object that the body can’t digest is swallowed, it can create an obstruction. 

In some cases, the object is small enough to swallow, but too large to pass through the intestines. It’s also possible for your dog to swallow multiple pieces, which would pass through the intestines individually. However, they can get tangled together. The tangled mass is too large to pass through the intestines. 

Can dogs poop out string?

Yes, dogs can, and usually do, poop out string. Most cases of a dog eating string end with a relieved laugh from the owner when the dog passes the string.
Once your dog passes the string, the danger has passed as well. However, it is important to remember that complications can prevent your pooch from pooping out the string.

Symptoms of complications from dog eating string

If your dog eats string, you should know the symptoms that something is wrong. If your dog begins showing these symptoms, you’ll need to get immediate  veterinary care. 

Symptoms of Intestinal Perforation 

An intestinal perforation is essentially a cut in your dog’s intestines. The signs include abdominal pain, fatigue, and loss of appetite. The perforation will cause internal bleeding. This can lead to bloody diarrhea, or vomiting blood.

Symptoms of Intestinal Obstruction 

An intestinal obstruction can be partial or complete. A partial obstruction will allow some food or waste to pass through the system. A complete blockage prevents anything from moving through the digestive tract. 

A partial blockage can cause diarrhea. Both types can cause constipation, including straining while pooping, or pain when pooping. If your pooch isn’t having bowel movements after eating string, this is a cause for concern. 

Generally, you should contact your vet if your pooch goes 48-72 hours without pooping. After they eat string, you will want to call the vet if they go between 24-48 hours without pooping, to be on the safe side. 

Other signs of an intestinal obstruction include vomiting, loss of appetite, and fatigue or lethargy. 

How long does it take for a dog to pass a string?

Most objects will pass through your dog’s system within 24 hours. If it’s been longer than 48 hours, you may need to contact your vet. If it’s been more than 72 hours, this is a cause for concern. 

Because string can become tangled or wrap around your dog’s digestive system, the longer the string is inside, the higher the risk. 

Preventing a dog from eating string

Some dogs have pica, which causes them to eat non-food items. In many cases, the dog is simply playing with the string, and swallows it accidentally. 


One way to prevent your dog from eating string is to supervise them. If your dog is in an area that contains string or other items your dog might enjoy, it’s a good idea to supervise them. 

Of course, you can’t supervise them 24 hours a day. What do you do when you can’t keep a close eye on your pooch? 

Dog Proofing 

Dog proofing is very similar to child proofing. Both involve making sure any items that can be dangerous are well out of reach. You may find it difficult, or impossible, to dog proof your entire home. 

However, you can dog proof some of your home, and allow your dog only in these areas when you aren’t able to supervise. Keep string and other objects your dog may enjoy eating out of their reach. 

You may also want to dog proof your yard if your pooch spends time outside. 

Busting Boredom 

It’s important to consider why your dog is eating string. One of the most common reasons is simply boredom. If your pooch is bored, they will find ways to entertain themselves. 

This can lead to them being destructive, hyperactive, excessive barking, potty accidents, and pica or eating non-food items. 

If you suspect your pooch is bored, you’ll need to give them more mental and physical exercise. A walk can provide physical exercise and mental stimulation. Just be sure to vary your route so they don’t become bored with the sights, smells, and sounds. 

Playing games with your pooch can also meet their needs. Puzzle toys help your dog get mental exercise. Lastly, there are apps and tv channels that are designed to entertain your dog. However, these are not a replacement for other activities. 

Safe Toys 

One way dogs eat string is from something you assume is safe; their toys. One of the most common offenders are rope toys. The strings from the rope can come loose. Since your dog is chewing or pulling on the toy, it’s no surprise the strings can make their way into your dog’s mouth and digestive tract. 

Instead of a traditional rope toy, choose a tug toy that’s made of strong rubber. Rubber is durable, and there are no small strings for your dog to swallow. It’s also soft enough to be safe for your dog to chew and pull. 

In addition to tossing the rope toys, be aware of any toys that aren’t designed for dogs. Everyone loves repurposing items, and many toys that are safe for kids can also be good for dogs. 

However, toys with strings aren’t safe. Dolls with hair are one example. You should also avoid pull toys, which have a string. 


A “drop it” command can be very useful. If your dog is chewing on a string, you’ll say drop it. The dog should drop the string. No matter what your dog has, if you want them to leave it alone, you can use the command. 

To teach the command, you’ll begin by saying “drop it” and then giving them a treat. Eventually, you’ll work up to using the command, waiting for them to drop the object, and then giving them a treat.