If you enjoy a glass of wine from time to time, chances are the wine cork ends up in the waste bin (we know it’s a challenge to figure out how to recycle that one). Since cork is nature material, you would assume it would be a good idea to give it to your dog as toy. Why wine cork is not a suitable choice, and when it can turn into a life-threatening danger is something we look at in this article. Let’s go.
Answered: Can Dogs Chew On Wine Corks?
No, dogs should not chew on wine corks. The chance that a wine cork is swallowed by your pup and might get stuck in his intestine poses a high risk of intestinal obstruction which is a dangerous state that needs to be resolved asap by a veterinarian. Even small pieces of wine cork can become dangerous if your pup is small. Therefore, wine corks should never be given to dogs.
What Exactly Is Cork?
Cork is a natural material obtained from tree bark. It is slightly squishy, which might seem to be the reason why we think it could be a good toy for dogs. While cork is known as impermeable, it yet absorbs a very little quantities of liquid it gets in contact with. When used in wine bottles, cork will naturally get in contact with the wine. That means, if you have just opened a bottle of wine and leave it unattended, there are still small quantities of alcohol and grape residue in the wine cork. Both are toxic to your dog.
Why Is Cork Dangerous?
Cork is indigestible. That means, it will not get smaller as it passes your pup’s insides. The risk here is that cork will block your dog’s intestine, therefore blocking food or liquid to pass through. The risk of having a serious condition rises with the size of the cork.
If your pup has eaten only small fractions of wine cork, chances are that he will excrete those the next time you go potty. Eating cork as a whole or big portions of it raise the likelihood of a bowel blockage. But how can such a small thing as cork become dangerous?
Cork can expand inside your dog’s body. If you have ever opened a bottle of wine you might have asked yourself how the wine cork can fit the neck since it is so much larger the moment you hold it in your hands. The answer is easy: Cork is an elastic material and gets compressed as it gets inserted in the bottleneck.
The opposite effect of compression might may appear when your dog swallows a wine cork. Cork will expand in warm and wet environments. Your dog’s body temperature usually is 101 to 102°F (38.3-39°C). The high temperature and a liquid environment highly increase the likelihood that the wine cork will expand in your dog’s intestine, which can easily become a life-threatening situation. Observe your dog and listen to his sounds if you suspect that he might have eaten cork.
Since cork stays in the bottleneck of a wine bottle for a long time and is constant contact with the actual wine, your dog may become intoxicated from alcohol when chewing on cork.
How Do I Know That My Dog Ate A Wine Cork?
Prominent symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Abdominal pain
- Vomiting due to dehydration or lack of electrolytes
- Respiratory issues
First signs may suddenly arrive hours after your dog swallowed the wine cork. Pay more attention to how often your dog poops. If you are unsure whether your dog has eaten a wine cork, observing and comparing the number of times your pup has to do his business can be insightful. Inspect his stool for little chunks of cork. In any case, don’t wait for too long. If you noticed that your dog ate the whole cork without having chewed it into pieces, don’t hesitate and call your veterinarian right away.
Bowel obstruction is a serious situation that requires immediate intervention if you suspect that your dog has swallowed a wine cork. Therefore, it is best to call the vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the symptoms above or you noticed that your dog ate a wine cork as a whole.
My Dog Ate The Whole Wine Cork. What To Do Now?
On the internet, some blogs will recommend giving hydrogen peroxide to your dog. Hydrogen peroxide may be given to a dog to induce vomiting. Our opinion here is clear: Do not use DIY solutions like hydrogen peroxide if your dog has swallowed the whole wine cork. Vomiting causes dehydration. With the loss of liquid, a lack of electrolytes will show. Therefore, if your dog has vomited, make sure he has access to fresh water.
You might feel anxious and easily make a mistake in calculating the correct amount your pup would need. Since you need to know your dog’s body weight to give him an adequate dose of hydrogen peroxide, you can easily make a mistake when feeling stressed. Emotions and adrenaline are high when you notice your dog is in a serious situation. Consequences can be fatal.
Instead, bring your dog to your veterinarian. The time it might take to cause bowel obstruction may vary between dogs due to their different body proportions, but usually there is enough time to drive to the vet shortly after you observed him eating the whole wine cork.
Your vet will induce vomiting and schedule further tests. Usually, your vet will do a complementary X-ray to precisely locate the cork. Should the wine cork have passed the stomach and already passes the intestine, surgery will become necessary. If not, it may be sufficient to apply a technique that allows your pup to purge the cork.
My Dog Ate A Fraction Of Wine Cork. Is It Dangerous?
The simple answer is: it depends. If your dog has swallowed larger chunks of cork, the chances of those pieces becoming dangerous decrease with your pup’s body size. In other words, small dogs suffer a higher risk of bowel obstruction because their digestive tracts are smaller.
But size is not the only indicator when determining if wine cork is dangerous or not. Some larger dog breeds (such as golden retrievers, collies, German shepherds) are prone to digestive problems. Chunks of cork add to this problem and might become a problem.
You will find smaller chunks of pieces in your pup’s stool the next time you go outside for a digestive walk. But since you definitely cannot know without a doubt that there are some pieces of wine cork left in your dog’s system, it is best to have your pup checked at your vet. Again, we highly discourage the idea of giving dangerous substances such as hydrogen peroxide to dogs in an acute situation of distress.
How To Stop Your Dog From Chewing Different Things
There is one simple solution to stop your dog from chewing on wine corks: Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to them in the first place. There are several reasons why wine corks are dangerous to dogs (bowel obstruction, alcohol, indigestibility).
If your dog likes to chew on things, ask yourself where this behavior may stem from. Chewing can manifest as calming mechanism for dogs whenever they feel stressed. Dogs like to chew on a lot of things, such as their bed in a crate, metal crate bars, chords, even underwear. If your pup has a proven track record of chewing on stuff, consider getting him some toys to chew on. To sustainably reduce your pup’s urge of chewing, find the cause for his distress. Look around your living room, or where your dog spends most of his day. Find any stressors and simulators and keep them away from your pup.
Dogs receive great amounts of nutritional energy from their food, but often don’t know what to do with it. Chewing then becomes the only means to blow off their steam. What we’ve found very effective is to ensure that your pup moves sufficiently. Become proactive and take him on a long walk, do some exercise, and play with him in a park. In the same vein, encourage his mental abilities. Play crate games, teach your pup some commands, make him work mentally for some treats. A tired dog is a happy dog.
In this article, we have explained why wine cork is a dangerous toy for your dog. Wine corks are indigestible, and can block your dog’s intestine depending on the size of both cork and dog. Watch for symptoms of bowel obstruction if you noticed your dog has eaten chunks of a wine cork. Take him to the vet right away, even if your pup only has swallowed pieces of cork. Do not give him dangerous substances yourself. In order to prevent your pup from chewing on wine corks, recycle all corks accordingly or store them in a safe space. Stimulate your dog mentally and physically to ease the urge of chewing on things.
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