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Check for These Signs
An overwhelming majority of dogs won’t experience much more discomfort beyond an upset stomach or some gas after eating drywall. The most serious concern you’ll usually have to deal with is choking, which may happen if your dog is trying to swallow larger pieces of drywall.
Keep an eye out for foaming at the mouth as well. While this isn’t usually a symptom of swallowing drywall, there’s always a risk that your dog might have eaten something else inside of your walls that’s behind the sheetrock panels that divide the various layers up.
Check your dog for any signs of burns or heart palpitations as well. If a dog is eating drywall on a regular basis, then it’s completely possible for them to get into the wires and cables that make up the inside of a wall structure.
This is a serious situation and needs to be dealt with immediately if it happens. You’ll also need to patch up the walls so that your dog can’t come around later and start eating parts of them like they did in the first place.
Most dogs won’t swallow enough drywall to cause any real problems, though they may eat enough to cause a headache. Dogs who somehow consume more drywall might end up with one or more of the following side effects:
- Choking: Larger pieces of sheetrock can block a dog’s breathing passages
- Shortness of breath: Dust from drywall can cause lung irritation
- Nasal problems: Debris from crumbling drywall can aggravate a dog’s allergies
- Vomiting: Painted drywall may be toxic enough to make a dog throw up
- Stomach Swelling: Contaminated drywall can cause a dog’s stomach to expand and possibly burst
- Sneezing: As drywall deteriorates, it can cause sneezing fits
Depending on what kind of coverings or paint treatments your walls have, your dog may experience more of an issue from ingesting these than the drywall itself. Older homes may have lead paint or asbestos tiles attached to the walls, which is a far more serious problem.
These dangerous building materials from yesteryear cause dogs many of the same problems that they cause humans. If your dog starts to show any of the potential problems related to exposure to these chemicals, then you’ll want to also perform a proper inspection of your home to make sure that you’re not being exposed to anything dangerous in the process.
What to Do
Separate your dog from the remaining drywall that they’ve been eating and remove any pieces from their mouth. If any got into your dog’s nose, then you’ll want to take this out as well.
Make sure to clean their eyes and face as well so your dog won’t be bothered by any dust that they might have picked up from the drywall in question. Check to make sure that your dog is breathing okay.
You may want to clean your dog’s snout with a moist cloth or paper towel. Since water can be bad for a dog’s fur, you won’t want to use one that’s too soaked.
Just lightly clean his or her mouth and get rid of any stray debris. Never leave loose sheets of drywall in an area where dogs could come into contact with it.
Pay close attention to see if your dog develops any severe side effects. Drywall imported into the United States between 2001-2009 was at risk for being contaminated with minerals like pyrite, which could prove toxic to both dogs and humans if enough dust from it were breathed in.
Repair or replace any damaged areas of your walls as soon as possible so that your dog won’t be able to continue to pick at it.
Do I Need to See the Vet or Go to the Emergency Animal Hospital?
Call a veterinarian immediately if your dog is showing any signs of severe coughing or vomiting. This could be a sign that your dog has ingested enough drywall to be a problem.
The good news is that drywall usually isn’t a major issue for dogs, even though they should never eat it. However, a precautionary call to your vet is never a bad idea.
If your dog often tries to eat things that aren’t food, then ask your vet for any input. Puppies will often chew on walls if they’re either scared or poorly socialized, and your vet will let you know if your dog shows signs of either of these conditions.
Ask your vet about the possibility that your dog might have pica. This is a medical condition that causes dogs, as well as people, to develop an appetite for things that aren’t actually food.
It’s relatively rare, but it’s one of the most common reasons that dogs would actually eat drywall as opposed to simply chew on it.
Safe Alternatives to Eat or Play With
Puppies and hyperactive dogs who eat drywall usually do it because they have a strong urge to chew on something. Give them ample supplies of purpose-made dog toys, especially when you’re walking away from them, so that they’ll have something that isn’t drywall to chew on.
In general, dogs don’t actually eat drywall as though it were food. They usually chew on it and then spit out the chunks.
Animals that are afflicted with pica or who are very hungry might try to swallow drywall. If you’re having this problem with your dog, then make sure to give them a diet of balanced organic dog food that will help to assuage their hunger so they don’t end up trying to eat something else.
In most cases, dogs are chewing on the walls or leftover building materials because they’re not getting enough attention. No amount of food or toys is going to solve this issue, so make sure to spend plenty of time with your pets and show them that you love them.