Dogs have a knack for doing the strangest things, from munching on your favorite shoe to slurping water from the toilet or dragging their behinds across the floor! But one peculiar behavior I’ve witnessed is our French Bulldog gnawing holes into the drywall – and it seems he’s not alone!
Given that drywall is a common fixture in almost every property, it’s no surprise that this is a prevalent issue. Your dog might have nibbled on a small amount of drywall, tasted some dust, or even devoured a chunk of the wall. So, what are the risks, and how poisonous is drywall to dogs?
Naturally, this can cause a lot of panic among dog owners. In this guide, I aim to address some of those concerns and explain what to do if your dog consumes drywall.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is based on personal research. If your dog ingests anything unusual, always consult with your vet.
Is drywall toxic to dogs?
Generally, standard drywall is not known to be toxic or poisonous to dogs. However, certain circumstances can make drywall toxic for dogs, such as asbestos-containing walls or the possibility of internal blockages. Furthermore, reports suggest that Chinese-manufactured drywall from 2001 to 2009 may have been contaminated with toxic elements.
In essence, drywall does not typically contain poisonous substances, except in the case of the Chinese drywall (refer to Wikipedia for more information), which was estimated to have been used in 100,000 U.S. homes.
Can drywall dust make a dog unwell?
But what about the dust that arises when drywall is disturbed? Can it harm your dog?
Well, the answer is both yes and no. Allow me to explain.
Drywall dust particles consist of various microscopic components. While the dust itself is not considered toxic, inhaling large quantities can pose problems.
For instance, asthmatic individuals or those prone to allergic reactions would understandably want to avoid having drywall dust in their eyes and mouths. The same goes for dogs.
Dogs who inhale a significant cloud of drywall dust, or even a small amount, may experience illness. The reaction could be more severe in dogs with existing health issues.
Just like with anything else, if your dog inhales drywall dust, they may become sick as their body attempts to expel the irritants from their throat and stomach.
Handy Hint: I’ve compiled 14 helpful tips on how to prevent your dog from eating and damaging drywall.
Can eating drywall be detrimental to dogs?
In most cases, if your dog consumes drywall mud or chunks, they should be fine. Drywall itself is not poisonous, unless it contains asbestos or is part of the problematic Chinese batch from the early 2000s.
However, that doesn’t mean your dog won’t become ill or even die after eating drywall. Sadly, I stumbled upon a heart-wrenching Facebook post in a dog group I belong to:
“I’ve heard that drywall is non-toxic and not poisonous to dogs, but this is what happened to us. We have a wall in our apartment that got damaged, and our kids made a small dent in the drywall. My Labrador puppy saw the dent, chewed into it, and swallowed some drywall chunks. His stomach swelled up, and he passed away a week later.”
While the comment poster didn’t specify the exact cause of death mentioned by the vet, other commenters made some possible deductions.
Here are a few noteworthy responses:
“It’s quite common for dogs to eat drywall, and most will only experience an upset stomach. Drywall irritates the digestive system but shouldn’t cause death unless the dog suffers from internal blockage. Alternatively, it’s possible that the dog was allergic to a chemical component or at risk of bloating already.”
“It could be an allergic reaction to the drywall, or perhaps the dog had consumed something before eating the drywall. It may also be the Chinese drywall, which I’ve heard is poisonous to dogs. If the house is older, it’s possible that asbestos or lead from old paint could be the cause.”
“I suspect your dog might have ingested toxic Chinese drywall. My uncle was buying a house in Seattle but discovered that the walls were constructed with Chinese drywall. He had to completely renovate the place because it’s toxic to humans, so it must be poisonous for dogs too.”
Based on the available information, it seems that most of the time, consuming drywall won’t harm your dog due to the absence of toxic elements. However, in rare instances, it can cause serious harm and trigger severe reactions. For example:
Chinese drywall: This type of drywall emits toxic sulphurous gases and is incredibly dangerous for both dogs and humans. Immediate medical attention is necessary if your dog ingests Chinese drywall.
Asbestos: In some cases, drywall may contain asbestos, especially if it’s old or disturbed during recent home renovations. If your dog ingests or inhales asbestos fibers from the drywall, they are at risk of developing mesothelioma, just like humans.
If you suspect that your dog has consumed any form of drywall or inhaled dust, consult with your vet right away. Symptoms of concern may include lethargy, difficulty breathing, and excessive coughing.
It’s always better to err on the side of caution, as you never know if eating drywall will be detrimental to your dog’s health.
My dog ate a small amount of drywall
Personally, I believe that if your dog consumes a small amount of drywall, they should be fine. However, as with the rest of the information provided here, it’s essential to prioritize safety.
Never take any risks, and always seek professional advice if your dog ingests anything that isn’t part of their regular diet.
Why do dogs eat drywall?
There are various reasons why dogs may feel compelled to munch on drywall. Here are some of the most common explanations:
If there’s something in the room that frightens or startles your dog, their instinctive response may be to escape, especially if they can’t access the door. Chewing into the drywall becomes their way of escaping the room and evading whatever causes fear.
Sudden loud noises, like fireworks, or other fearful situations can prompt your dog to chew through the drywall, even if the source of fear is no longer present. They associate the room with feelings of fear and anxiety.
If removing the fear-inducing stimulus doesn’t solve the issue, try placing your dog in a different room with their favorite toys and objects.
2. Sensing something
Though you might find it unsettling, it’s relatively common for critters like rats, mice, crickets, snakes, lizards, and termites to make their homes inside your walls. Dogs have highly developed senses of smell and hearing, which make them more likely to detect living creatures within the walls than you do.
If your dog senses something lurking behind the walls, they may resort to chewing through the drywall to reach it. Dealing with this situation involves seeking professional pest control assistance or training your dog to be less driven by their hunting instincts and prey drive.
If your dog has excess energy due to a lack of exercise, play, or interaction, they may resort to destructive behaviors. Without toys or an outlet for their energy, they might end up chewing through drywall simply because there’s nothing else to do.
The best way to address this is by ensuring your dog receives proper physical and mental stimulation.
4. Separation anxiety
If you leave your dog alone in a room or even just move into a different room, they may become anxious about being separated from you. Chewing through the drywall becomes their way of searching for you and attempting to be closer.
To manage separation anxiety, seek assistance from a specialist dog trainer who can help your dog cope with such feelings.
Pica is a condition where dogs are compelled to consume inanimate objects like drywall. While underlying medical issues or malnutrition can sometimes cause this condition, it is primarily a behavioral and psychological problem.
It’s best to consult with a vet and a specialized dog trainer to address pica in your dog.
6. Attention-seeking behavior
If your dog receives a reaction from you when they eat drywall – be it positive reinforcement through distraction or negative reinforcement through discipline – they may engage in this behavior to get attention. It’s possible that they have been conditioned to believe that eating drywall will prompt a reaction from you.
There is no easy solution to this, but providing your dog with more attention on a regular basis may alleviate the problem, making them understand that extreme measures like eating drywall are unnecessary for them to receive attention from you.
Handy Hint: If you notice your dog pressing their head into the wall without chewing, it could be a sign of a serious neurological condition.
As with anything not intended for a dog’s diet, it’s best to avoid it altogether. While drywall does not appear to be poisonous to dogs, it’s recommended to prevent your puppy from consuming it.
Whether your dog has eaten drywall or inhaled a significant amount of drywall dust, it’s essential to consult with your vet, even if the ingestion was minimal.
Apart from the potential risks, your dog eating drywall often indicates an underlying issue that you should explore and address if you wish to keep your walls intact!
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