What can I do if my dog ate leather?

So, your dog ate leather. What can you do? Leather isn’t inherently dangerous to dogs — but there could be some associated issues.

While leather itself isn’t usually dangerous, the real danger has to do with the potential for obstruction. Leather won’t break down in a dog’s system like food does; it isn’t digestible, and it could block their digestive tract.

Additionally, leather shoe materials sometimes contain metal which can be dangerous, too. The outcome is usually based on quick action and the amount of leather the dog ingests.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Leather?

First, try to determine the amount of leather that your dog ate. If your dog ate leather shoe parts, you might find that the shoe has been shredded rather than consumed. It’s easy to say that a dog “ate” a leather purse when in reality, they just tore it apart.

But even if your dog ate just a little leather, you need to watch them. While dogs eat leather all the time (especially when teething; it’s very attractive to them), even a small amount of leather could lead to an obstruction.

Obstruction occurs when a dog isn’t able to pass something through its digestive system. And it can quickly become fatal. The key to better outcomes for a dog that ingests leather is observation. You should keep your dog under observation for about 24 hours. It takes a dog about 10 to 12 hours to digest food, but you may not see symptoms of an obstruction until later than that.

And if your dog does start to show any symptoms, you should take them to the vet. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Leather Obstruction?

How can you tell whether your dog has an intestinal blockage? There are symptoms of obstruction that you might notice:

  • Vomiting. If your dog is vomiting, it could be because it cannot digest. If there’s a blockage, the entire digestive tract may shut down. Your pup may feel hungry but may be unable to keep food down.
  • Pain. Your pet may whine or cry when you touch their abdomen, and their abdomen may feel hard or hot to the touch. If this is the case, they need to go to the vet immediately; even if it isn’t an obstruction, it could be something else equally dangerous.
  • Weakness. Your pet may start to get weak or lethargic during an intestinal blockage. This may be because their digestive system isn’t working, and they aren’t processing any nutrients. You may feel that they are warm to the touch.
  • Loss of appetite. Your pet may not start vomiting but may instead stop eating altogether, as they know that something is wrong. If you notice that your dog has stopped eating as much or is struggling to eat, it’s a sign that there could be an obstruction.
  • Inability to have a bowel movement. Because of the blockage, your dog may not be able to go to the bathroom. During your walks, you may notice that your dog is straining but cannot go or can only go a little. Don’t assume there isn’t a blockage because your pet can force a small bowel movement; a blockage can be only partial and still be dangerous to your pet.

Otherwise, keep an eye out for your dog’s behavior changing. If your dog’s behavior changes suddenly, it could be a symptom of danger. But either way, the best thing to do is call a vet if you’re concerned or if you notice anything unusual.

What Happens If a Dog Has a Leather Obstruction?

If your dog has eaten leather and cannot pass it, often, a vet will perform an X-ray to see where the leather has lodged. Your doctor may provide medications to help your dog pass the blockage (if it’s minor), but it’s more likely that your dog will need surgery (if it has become obstructed). Obstructions are very serious and can become fatal quickly, and any attempts to further pass the obstruction may only cause more damage.

During surgery, the vet will go in and remove the obstruction manually. Your dog will likely need aftercare, but the removal of obstructions like this is, while not common, is also not rare. Surgery is usually the safest thing to do when your pet has an obstruction, as otherwise, that obstruction will not pass. The situation will worsen, and your dog will experience a lot of pain as it does so. 

Depending on where the obstruction is in their digestive tract, the vet may not need to perform very invasive surgery. They may instead be able to perform laparoscopic surgery through the digestive tract itself, which will be easier for your pup’s recovery. But they will need to complete an x-ray to determine what type of surgery is necessary and where the obstruction has lodged.

How Can You Keep Your Dog From Eating Leather?

If you find that your dog is constantly going after your leather items, you can spray something like “Bitter Apple” (a pet-safe spray) onto it to make the taste of the leather unpalatable. You may also want to lock away leather items in a closet.

But leather isn’t the only thing that can cause an obstruction; leather is only particularly dangerous because it is a thick material and impossible to digest. Other materials, such as canvas bags or regular cloth, can be equally dangerous. Some thinner clothes can be more dangerous because they can tangle around the intestines, pinching them off.

Because of this, if you have an adventurous chewer, you may want to crate them when you are out. A crate shouldn’t be used for more than four hours at a time and not for more than eight hours a day, but when used properly, it can prevent a puppy (especially one who is teething) from getting into things that they shouldn’t. Other than this, you can present them with many different outlets for chewing, such as dog treats and pet-safe bones.

FAQs

Is leather toxic to dogs? Leather is safe for humans and generally not harmful to dogs. The danger comes in the leather’s mechanical action — its indigestibility — rather than any chemical toxicity.

What can you do after your dog has eaten leather? It’s more dangerous to try to get a dog to throw leather up than it is to let the dog try to pass it, as that could get the leather stuck in the dog’s throat. It’s best to watch your dog for potential symptoms and take your dog to the vet if they seem ill.

How do you keep leather away from dogs? The best way to train your dog to avoid leather is to use a bittering agent such as Bitter Apple, which will cause your dog to avoid your leather objects because they don’t taste good.

Are certain leathers more dangerous to dogs? The thicker the leather is, the more likely it is to get lodged in your dog’s stomach. Further, the more it has eaten and the larger the pieces are, the more dangerous it is.

What happens to dogs who have eaten leather? If a dog has eaten leather, it will usually pass it. But if it is unable to pass it, a veterinarian may need to perform surgery to remove the obstruction manually.

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