My dog ate a shoelace! What should I do?

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  • Post last modified:November 30, 2021
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It can be horrifying when our dog gets into something and eats objects they shouldn’t. Eating a shoelace can be very dangerous and even fatal in some cases for our dogs. 

If your dog eats your shoelaces, it is essential to try and retrieve the shoelace as quickly as possible This can be done by inducing vomiting, calling the vet, or monitoring their stool for it to pass. 

In some cases, your dog may pass the rest of the shoelace on its own. To learn more about determining the severity of your situation, continue to read below. 

Why is it dangerous for your dog to swallow a shoelace?

While all dogs are different in various considerations, it is generally dangerous for your dog to swallow a shoelace as it can put them at risk for choking, digestion problems, or in the most severe cases–an impacted intestine.

For one, shoelaces have the potential to wrap around the intestines, especially if swallowed whole. This can cause serious bacterial infections or intestinal blockages that can be deadly if it gets into the bloodstream.  

Determining the seriousness

Unless your dog shows visible signs of distress, swallowing a shoelace doesn’t always call for immediate panic.

Anytime your dog eats something they shouldn’t, it runs a risk of being fatal, so each situation must be evaluated on an individual basis and approached with caution. As with everything, the severity of your pup has many influences, including:

  • the size and breed of your dog, 
  • how the shoelace got eaten, 
  • and even the lace itself. 

Unless you see telltale signs such as lethargy, vomiting, or abdominal swelling, it is not always necessary to call your vet right away. Of course, if you do notice these signs, it is recommended to reach out as soon as possible. 

Size of the dog

The size of your dog plays a significant role anytime your dog swallows something it shouldn’t. In general, larger dogs have an easier time digesting objects they get into.

So take your pup is about 100 lbs. If the shoelace got pretty chewed up, then it will probably pass in their feces in 1-3 days, as advised by most vets. It can be a bit scarier for puppies as they have much smaller intestines and stomachs than adult dogs.

If you have a puppy or a dog on the smaller side, it is probably a good idea to induce vomiting, which can be done with the peroxide method discussed below.

Material of shoelace

The shoelace itself is an important factor in the possible severity of your dog eating a shoelace. Aglets, which are the small pieces of plastic at the end of many shoelaces, may increase the risk of harm to the digestive tracts more than laces without them.

They increase the choking hazard and run the risk of getting stuck in the intestines. Some linen and basic cloth shoelaces may be less damaging to your dog’s digestive tract than harder materials such as leather or denim.

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Another critical factor to be mindful of is whether the shoelace was clean or not, as some dirty laces can transfer bacteria to your pup’s digestive tract, raising the risk for infection. 

Was it chewed or swallowed in one long piece?

This is important because shoelaces that are swallowed in one piece run a higher risk of wrapping around the intestines, which can be extremely dangerous and fatal. Shoelaces that were chewed up by your dog are more likely to pass in their feces. 

How to help a dog that swallowed a shoelace?

Before freaking out, be sure to stay relaxed, as you don’t want to freak your pet out if they are in any distress. Inducing vomiting and getting your pup to pass this piece out of their system is the most important thing.

Thankfully, there are a few recommended ideas to try. If your dog does happen to swallow a shoelace, continue below on the best things you can do to help your canine friend. 

Hydrogen Peroxide 

The Hydrogen Peroxide method is a vet-approved and recommended way to induce vomiting in your pup quickly.

To induce vomiting as quickly as possible if the shoelace is not easily retrievable, administer 3% hydrogen peroxide at a dose per 1 teaspoon for every 10 lbs of your dog. Then jiggle your dog’s stomach around, and this may induce vomiting in your pup.

If the shoelace gets thrown up, your stress is over. But if you cannot see all the pieces, it may be good to repeat this a few times.

If your dog still has not vomited up the entire shoelace, monitor carefully for any symptoms of lethargy, abdominal pain, or changes in appetite, as this can put a dog at risk for choking or digestion problems. If you notice any of these symptoms, it will be good to get your dog to the vet as soon as possible. 

dog vomit

Check feces for the shoelace

If your pup does not vomit the shoelace out, it may be possible they chewed it up and are already beginning to get ready to pass it through their feces. This is what happens with many cases, specifically in larger dogs.

It is important to watch out for this, though, which means checking your dog’s feces to ensure the entire shoelace comes out. On average, it should take your dog about 1-4 days to pass this in their feces. 

Monitor for symptoms that require immediate attention

Sometimes dogs that swallow shoelaces act completely normal and eventually pass the lace. It is important to be mindful as an owner to watch out for any concerning symptoms. These include vomiting, fatigue, zero appetite, abdominal swelling or tenderness, and unusual behavior changes such as aggression. 

Call or visit a vet.

If you notice any of the symptoms described above, it is recommended to call your vet as soon as possible, as the shoelace could potentially cause a blockage in your dog’s stomach or intestines. Some owners prefer to take their dog to the vet regardless just to ensure the shoelace is totally out, and this is never a bad idea. 

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What would a vet likely do to extract the shoelace?

Again, this honestly matters on the severity. Still, vets will give your dog a good physical examination and try to induce vomiting by methods and medications to retrieve the lace.

They may recommend a hospital stay for your dog to monitor the passing of the shoelace and deeper observation. If your pup presents severe symptoms, an X-ray scan will be taken, and exploratory surgery may be performed. 

This means the vet will have to put your dog down for anesthesia, open them up and remove the shoelace manually. Other factors that may influence whether surgery is performed or not are the size of the lace, location, and duration of the obstruction. 

Why do dogs eat shoelaces?

Dogs are interesting creatures and are much more similar to kids and babies than we think. Hence why they are constantly putting things in their mouth when they shouldn’t be. They also do not have good regulation of hunger, so they tend to eat when they are bored, stressed, or just to explore their senses. 

PICA is a condition that causes someone to chew on and eat foreign objects. It is actually a common condition found among many canines across breeds.

This may be fun for your pooch but can get them into some serious trouble if they accidentally swallow something they shouldn’t, such as a shoelace.  Puppies tend to chew and eat foreign objects, particularly when they are teething, which may be why they are known for getting into our laces. 

 How do I get my dog to stop eating shoelaces?

If you know your dog is a natural shoe and lace lover, it is probably not a bad idea to keep them out of reach. This prevents problems altogether and doesn’t even tempt your dog.

Some owners choose to keep shoes in the closet or spaces above their dogs’ reach. This may be more difficult with puppies as they tend to chew on all kinds of household items.

Getting your specialized dog toys for teething that stimulate their senses can also help with this problem. Using treats to stop them from chewing things and rewarding them when they go after their chew toys instead is also a way to train them out of this issue.  

Dogs are like our kids sometimes, and it can be scary when they get into things they shouldn’t, ESPECIALLY when it comes to putting things in their mouth.

While swallowing a shoelace can be a frightening situation for any pet owner, it’s important to remember that every situation is different and to evaluate how your dog is acting. Most cases are not fatal when the proper steps are taken, but it is always a good idea to speak with your vet anytime your dog ingests a foreign object.