What Happens If a Dog Eats Sand?

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Ingesting sand can lead to sand impaction, a medical condition where part of the intestines are blocked by the sand, explains a 2010 study in the Journal of Small Animal Practice. Vomiting is the most common side effect of sand impaction. Dogs may also lose their appetites, have abdominal pain or become lethargic. In rare or untreated cases, dogs can die from sand impaction.

Other dangers of sand impaction include a distended or ruptured stomach, impaired breathing and decreased blood flow to necessary organs, explains the Herald-Tribune. The 2010 study from the Journal of Small Animal Practice examined eight dogs that were diagnosed with sand impaction. Researchers treated four dogs through surgical means and the rest received medication. Both types of treatment proved effective for sand impaction, and only one of the dogs died.

There is no breed specifically prone to eating sand, but younger dogs are more likely to do so, says the Herald-Tribune. Sand is particularly appealing to dogs because it usually contains traces of other materials, like animal residue or garbage, explains The Daily Puppy. The Herald-Tribune warns pet owners to closely monitor their dogs around sand because even small amounts of sand can build up over time and lead to sand impaction.