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How long would string stay in a dog’s stomach?

Dogs have the propensity to dig and to chew thus they end up swallowing non-edible objects. Plastic toys, stockings, metal objects, foil wrappers, strings and ribbons…the list of objects that can end up in the dog’s stomach is endless. All dogs have the tendency to chew and ingest what they are playing with but foreign bodies in the stomach are most common in puppies and young dogs noted for being naturally curious. Strings are small objects that can easily pass through the digestive tract of the dog and excreted together with the stool. However, a string that was stuck in the stomach or in the intestine can stay there for months and cause great danger.

Foreign body in the dog’s digestive tract

A foreign body is any non-edible material or object ingested by the dog. A string is one of these foreign bodies that can endanger the life of the pet. Large objects can create intestinal obstruction that will partially or completely prevent the passing of food and liquid through the intestine. The string ingested by the dog should come out naturally through the digestive tract within 10 to 24 hours.  A string is not large enough to create such obstruction.  Nonetheless, greater danger will be created as the length of the string will affect longer sections of the bowel. The bunched up string can get stuck in the stomach while the other end would pass through the intestine.

Linear string foreign bodies

Continues movement of the intestines will cause it to bunch up in the length of string similar to an accordion. The stretched string will cut into the walls of the intestines usually in several places. Intestinal contents will leak through the cuts into the abdomen. Being acidic and bacteria contaminated, the intestinal contents will infect the blood stream (sepsis) and cause infection of the thin membranes of the abdominal walls.

Intestinal obstruction

A string may not be as large as a plastic toy but bounced up, string can also create intestinal obstruction that will prevent liquid and food from passing through the intestines. Partial or total obstruction will have devastating effect to the health of the dog. The bunched up string will put pressure on the walls of the intestines resulting to poor blood circulation.


How would you know that your dog has ingested a length of knitting yarn, or the string you used to truss the turkey? Unlike other foreign bodies ingested by dogs, a string is not that large. The dog may act its normal self and would not show any symptoms even if the string was already lodged in the stomach for quite some time. However, if the ingested string is already creating intestinal blockage, the dog would vomit and have diarrhea. Poor appetite and lethargy are other symptoms of foreign bodies in the dog’s digestive tract.

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If you suspect that the dog has ingested string or any other non-edible objects, it would be best to consult a vet right away. The health of the pet should always be the prime consideration of a pet parent. The vet would know what must be done; perform surgery if necessary to remove the foreign body ingested by the dog.

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wrigley eating string


Bill on July 12, 2011:

On 8th February my Bull Terrier swallowed a cotton serviette whole. We thought it would pass natuarlly but after a few days which turned into a few weeks we fiorgiot about it.

Today 12th July, she was sick and brought up the whole thing, completely intact

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