If you have kids, chances are there’s a crayon or two lurking in your couch cushions or under your child’s bed. And from time to time, an entire box may even be left out on the floor.
This can give curious canines the chance to taste one of these interesting items. Dogs that find the taste appealing may even eat several crayons at a time.
Fortunately, crayons are unlikely to sicken your dog.
Most crayons sold in the US are non-toxic and made of pretty safe and simple ingredients. They may, however, present a few other risks, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your pooch.
First of all, don’t panic – your dog will likely be fine. He may barf up the crayons, but, most likely, they’ll just come out as multi-colored poop.
Start by examining the scene of the crime and trying to determine how many crayons your dog consumed (it’s also important to ensure that he hasn’t eaten anything else). You don’t need an exact count, but it may be important to know whether he ate one crayon or half a 64-pack.
Once you’ve figured out how many are likely to be in his belly, clean up the remaining crayons so he can’t go back for seconds.
Next, look at the crayon wrapper and the box – hopefully, you’ll see that the crayons are labeled “non-toxic.” The vast majority of crayons are labeled as such, but it’s always a good idea to double check.
From this point forward, you’ll want to monitor your dog. If he acts normally, eats dinner normally, and poops normally, he’s probably fine. Crayons are made from pretty harmless ingredients, so the only real danger is that they’ll cause an obstruction or choke him (more on this in a moment).
However, it never hurts to call your vet to double check, and you should obviously seek veterinary attention if your dog starts exhibiting any symptoms that may indicate he is allergic to the crayons.
This could include:
If your vet is unavailable but you still have questions, you may want to get in touch with an online vet service. JustAnswer is one that we can recommend – you can live chat with a veterinarian real time and even share video or photos of your dog if needed.
Most crayons are made from paraffin wax, some dye, and little else. Some crayons designed to produce special effects have other ingredients, but these should be safe for your dog too.
It’s hard to know every single ingredient used to make this art supply because manufacturers aren’t required to disclose them, but most are formulated to be safe for children to eat (not that this is encouraged).
Again, check the label, and if you are in doubt, contact the manufacturer and verify the ingredients used in the crayons.
As mentioned earlier, crayons can represent a physical threat to your dog.
If he swallows a large piece of a crayon or eats a ton of them, they can cause him to choke or block up his intestines. This can represent a serious medical emergency, so you’ll want to head over to your vet ASAP.
Your vet will likely perform a physical examination and, if necessary, order some type of imaging tests to figure out where the blockage is.
Surgery may be required, unless the obstruction is pretty close to your dog’s entrance or exit, in which case your vet may be able to use specialized tools to remove the blockage.
Some of the most common signs and symptoms that your dog is choking or has an intestinal obstruction include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, you’ll need to act quickly. Scoop up your pooch and head right over to the vet’s office.
Nobody knows exactly why dogs eat crayons or some of the strange things they do, but it likely stems from a combination of curiosity and the interesting scent that crayons have.
Dogs tend to explore the world with their nose and mouth, and when they encounter something unique or odd, they’ll often have a taste.
In other cases, crayon-eating behavior may stem from boredom, anxiety, or frustration. It may even represent a behavioral disorder known as pica, which is characterized by the regular ingestion of inedible items.
The potential causes of pica aren’t fully understood, but nutritional deficiencies, illnesses (such as diabetes), and boredom likely play a role in the condition.
Young puppies who are teething may also chew on crayons to help soothe their aching gums. In such cases, your pup may not swallow the crayons – he may simply chew on them for a while before moving on to something else.
In this case, be sure to get your pup some appropriate puppy teething toys he can chomp instead!
Even though crayons are pretty unlikely to cause your dog harm, you’ll want to take steps to prevent your pet from doing so again in the future.
For starters, it is a good idea to keep your dog out of your kids’ rooms. This is especially true if your kids aren’t old enough to clean up after themselves and ensure nothing is left on the floor for your dog to eat.
Secondly, make sure that your dog has at least one suitable chew toy. This is especially important for teething puppies and dogs who tend to chew on things when bored.
And finally, be sure to discuss the issue with your vet if your dog continues to eat things that he shouldn’t. He may be suffering from a health problem that your vet can help you treat.
If this proves fruitless, consider working with an animal behaviorist to figure out why your dog is compelled to eat inedible items and what, if anything, you can do to eliminate this desire.
Again, crayons are unlikely to cause your dog serious health problems, but be sure to keep an eye on him and seek veterinary attention if he displays any troubling symptoms.
Most importantly, be sure to do whatever you need to do to prevent your dog from eating inappropriate things in the future. Crayons may be pretty safe, but he may eat something more dangerous next time!
Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.