My Dog Ate a Balloon: Are Balloons Bad for Dogs?

are balloons bad for dogs

Our dog loves it when we have parties. He will chase the balloons along the floor like mad, which is fine, until one pops. One two occasions now, my dog ate a piece of balloon. Thankfully he’s been okay, but it could have been very different.

We are now very, very careful to not have balloons around our dog, because there are inherent risks. Whether it’s a latex balloon, water balloon, or rubber one, you need to be aware of the dangers described below.

The bottom line is this; if your dog ate a piece of balloon, it could be dangerous and here’s why.

Are balloons bad for dogs? Balloons are bad and not safe for dogs if eaten. Small pieces of rubber can choke your dog. If swallowed, the balloon can also cause a blockage in your dog’s digestive system.

If the balloon piece is big enough that your dog can’t pass it naturally, surgical intervention will be required.

I don’t want to concern you at this point, but you do need be cautious. On the two occasions my dog ate part of a balloon, he has pooped it out. It could have been different though as I will now explain.

My dog ate a balloon, what do I do?

Our fur babies at home are naturally curious and will not hesitate to smell or eat anything they find on the ground, including that piece of burst balloon that you haven’t swept up.

All parts of a rubber or latex balloon can be dangerous to dogs, even if they’re made of biodegradable material. It’s best to always keep them out of reach at all costs.

From talking with my vet, he says that most foreign objects will pass through your dog’s system inside 10 to 24 hours.

dog ate piece of balloon
Be careful if your dog eats a piece of balloon (Image licensed from Storyblocks.com).

However, a small piece of balloon will only get pooped out if it is small enough to pass through the digestive tract and doesn’t become stuck.

Always play safe though. Due to the dangers of internal blockages, you should always call a vet for an expert view if your dog ate a piece of balloon.

Here’s everything I’ve learned about dogs and why balloons are so dangerous to dog and what else you should know.

Are balloons bad for dogs?

Party balloons are usually made of rubber or foil. While these two materials are not poisonous, balloons can still pose a significant danger to dogs at every step of digestion.

Attempting to chew or swallow a piece of a deflated balloon may cause a dog to choke.

If the piece of balloon your dog ate is small enough to be swallowed, it will travel through their digestive system and can cause a blockage anywhere between the esophagus and the intestinal tract.

Dogs cannot digest rubber. The best-case scenario is that your dog will pass the piece of rubber in their stool. But if an intestinal blockage occurs, your dog will need immediate surgery to have the foreign object taken out.

Even “biodegradable” latex balloons take several years to break down (source: Green Citizen) and are still not safe to ingest.

What happens if my dog eats a piece of balloon?

No owner can keep an eye on their dog at all times. We can’t always keep track of everything they put in their mouth.

But in general, we can usually tell if our dogs aren’t feeling well.

While we may not immediately be aware if they’ve swallowed a piece of a rubber or latex water balloon, symptoms of intestinal obstruction can soon become obvious, Some of the most common ones occur within a few hours of ingestion.

  • Vomiting: This may be a sign of your dog trying to expel a piece of popped balloon they ate in the last few hours. Watch out for traces of rubber in the vomit. If your dog vomits more than once in a span of 24 to 48 hours, it’s best to get them checked by a professional.
  • Watery diarrhea:Similar to vomiting, your dog may poop the balloon out this way. Observe the stool for signs of rubber or latex.
  • Abdominal pain:If your dog is showing signs of pain or discomfort localized in the stomach area, this can indicate an infection or blockage in the digestive system.
  • Constipation: A very common symptom of gastrointestinal blockage, usually caused by ingested objects such as a piece of balloon.
  • Loss of appetite/lethargy: A significant indicator of digestive problems. It means they don’t feel well enough to eat, or there is something in their stomach that will not let them eat.

If you observe one or more of these symptoms in your dog, it’s best to take them to the vet immediately.

Act with urgency, as any kind of blockage where a small balloon is trapped in the digestive system can escalate quickly and should be resolved as soon as possible.

Will my dog poop out a balloon?

My dog did poop out the piece of balloon each time, as it was small enough to pass through his digestive system. There’s no guarantee though that this will happen with your dog.

If your dog has vomited or had diarrhea, check if they’ve pooped the balloon piece that way. But if there’s a chance they may have ingested a whole balloon and only passed part of it, taking them to the vet is still the best call.

If you know the exact size and shape of the ingested object and your dog isn’t showing any signs of pain or gastrointestinal distress, there’s a good chance they will just poop the balloon out naturally.

Digestion in dogs generally lasts for 10 to 24 hours. You can try to feed them pumpkin or wheat bran to speed up the process.

How to stop your dog eating balloons

We can’t always keep track of everything our dog does, but as owners, we are responsible for the environments our pets live in.

When at home, make sure to keep them away from balloons or objects that they’re curious about. It’s best to store them up high and out of sight.

One way to keep dogs from eating pieces of popped balloons is to give them chew toys to divert their attention. There are many dog-safe toys available in the market that will save your dog from boredom and picking up things that are very much unsafe.

will my dog poop out a balloon
My dog goes mad for balloons at parties, and actually ate two small pieces which eventually did poop out.

You should also consider not using balloons at all. Balloons are a risk not only to the pets that you keep in your home. Helium balloons released into the air can travel for hundreds of miles and cause harm to wildlife living in other areas.

Small pieces of burst balloons are choking hazards that may be scavenged by animals looking for food, and animal extremities can get caught around balloon strings.

Safer home decorations include banners, streamers, pinwheels, flowers, and even a bubble machine.

Why do dogs eat balloons?

Dogs love to explore. They are endlessly curious creatures, and their method of learning about the world around them is usually to sniff, lick, and eat anything that’s new and interesting.

Balloons are colorful and they are made to catch the eye. They’re made of soft and squishy material that dogs may find fun to gnaw on and eventually swallow.

Unfortunately, torn up balloons have the potential to be dangerous to our dogs.

It’s absolutely normal for dogs to ingest something they shouldn’t every now and then. They don’t know any better, after all.

Handy Hint: Some dogs are actually scared of balloons. You can find out why in another blog postI wrote.

But if your dog is regularly, compulsively picking up objects that aren’t food and eating them, it may be a symptom of a behavioral condition called pica.

Why do dogs eat things that aren’t food?

Pica is a condition where dogs feel compelled to eat things that aren’t food, such as plastic, cloth, rocks, wood, paper, or dirt.

Dogs with pica may be obsessed with ingesting one type of non-food object, or they might just compulsively chew and swallow anything they can find. You might also see them licking the floor all of a sudden too.

Pica is usually diagnosed in adult dogs. Puppies are naturally curious and it’s normal for them to attempt to eat everything they see. Most puppies grow out of this behavior as they learn to distinguish between what is and isn’t food.

There are psychological and medical issues that give rise to pica in dogs.

Some psychological causes include boredom, lack of attention, separation anxiety, and stress. Chewing or eating furniture, clothes, or even items in the garbage may be their way of destructively expressing frustration.

Underlying medical conditions such as nutritional imbalance, thyroid disease, malnutrition, or anemia may cause pica.

Treatment for pica depends on the primary cause. For behavioral issues, it may be best to consult an animal behaviorist for training and treatment plans.

If the cause is physical, your veterinarian will prescribe vitamins or a significant adjustment in your dog’s diet.

Conclusion

It’s not a party if there are no balloons, right?

When celebrating life milestones at home – birthdays, anniversaries, births, weddings, and even national holidays – we usually put-up banners and balloons to really feel the festive spirit.

After we clean up at the end of the day, we may not realize that bits and pieces of those decorations are still left lying on the floor.

And this is where the danger lies and why balloons are bad for dogs. By just eating one small piece and part of a balloon, there’s the potential for a serious consequence.

Please be careful.

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Image in header via https://pixabay.com/photos/child-girl-balloon-dog-puppy-918660/

Marc Aaron

I write about the things I've learned about owning a dog, the adventures we have, and any advice and tips I've picked up along the way.

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