Drywall (or sheetrock) is a building material made of gypsum plaster that is used to make interior surfaces. It’s often called “sheetrock.”
Drywall is most commonly found in new construction, but it may also be used in remodeling work.
In the past, drywall was mostly installed with nails or screws; now it’s more common to use adhesive for installation because this method makes demolition and future repairs easier.
There are many different variations of drywall: lightweight Sheetrock® panels, acoustic boards, fire-resistant boards, greenboard®, and fiberglass panels.
If your dog has eaten some of your drywall keep reading!
- Why Do Dogs Eat Drywall?
- Is Drywall Compound Toxic To Dogs?
- What Happens If My Dog Ate Drywall?
- What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Drywall?
- What Will The Vet Do?
- How To Prevent My Dog From Eating Drywall?
- The Bottom Line
Why Do Dogs Eat Drywall?
It’s a mistake to think that dogs aren’t interested in drywall because it’s an interior building material.
Dogs like the taste of gypsum plaster, which is used to make sheetrock, and they may find the texture appealing.
There are other reasons why dogs eat drywall:
1.To get rid of hairballs
Your dog may have eaten drywall in order to get rid of a hairball. Drywall acts as a natural emetic (something that causes vomiting) so it may help your dog expel its fur mass.
Dog owners should be aware that some websites recommend feeding “paint chips” or “carpet fuzz” as a way to avoid hairballs; these homemade diets are dangerous and can cause serious health defects.
2. Dogs like to chew on things
Dogs are natural chewers, and they will happily gnaw on sheetrock hanging in the garage or laundry room.
It’s best to keep your drywall sheets out of reach.
Some dogs may also prefer the texture of sheetrock over other household items that they can chew on, such as toys or table legs. If you don’t want your dog chewing on drywall it is a good idea to provide them with plenty of safer alternatives – such as bully sticks, rope toys, Nylabone chews, kongs, or human food (baby carrots, cooked vegetables, etc).
3 . Dogs are bored and need more exercise
If you work long hours every day then it’s possible that your dog could be bored during your absence. This can lead to destructive behavior and chewing (drywall can make a good chew toy for a dog).
Dogs need plenty of exercise every day, and this is especially true for dogs that are kept indoors 24/7.
You should invest in some puzzle toys, give them more interactive food puzzles (such as stuffed kongs), or take them on long walks several times every week.
4. There’s a nasty smell
Dogs may also eat drywall if the material has been stored in a damp location; sheetrock absorbs moisture over time and will develop mold spores when it becomes too wet.
For example, sheetrock left at the bottom of basement stairs will eventually become slimy because the moist air from the basement rises to the top of the stairs.
You can remove this kind of sheetrock and clean it with soap, water, and a scrub brush – but you may also want to consider cleaning every surface that was touched by mold spores (such as walls or carpeting).
5. Dogs eat things that make them feel better
Some dogs will eat their drywall if they have an upset tummy: they may be experiencing digestive problems or an allergic reaction due to flea infestation.
If your dog is eating drywall because it’s ill then you should pay close attention to your pet’s behavior and watch for vomiting or diarrhea.
You should also check your pet for ticks since some diseases are transmitted via tick bites (ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, etc). If your dog is vomiting or has diarrhea you should take them to the vet immediately.
If taste or texture is the reason your dog ate drywall, you should expect them to eat it again if that’s what they’re presented with!
You should also take note of what kind of drywall your dog has eaten – different kinds have different textures and tastes so you can try to switch your selection around.
Is Drywall Compound Toxic To Dogs?
While gypsum is non-toxic to humans it can be dangerous for dogs.
Gypsum sand (which is used to manufacture drywall) contains sulfuric acid, and this material may irritate your dog’s esophagus or stomach.
The throat irritation caused by ingested drywall can lead to coughing, gagging, dehydration, vomiting, and shock; if your dog eats a lot of drywall then they may end up in hospital with chemical burns on their mouth and throat.
The short answer? Yes – sheetrock is toxic to dogs!
What Happens If My Dog Ate Drywall?
Your dog’s health depends on the amount of drywall they ate and how long it has been since they swallowed it.
The more sheetrock a dog eats (and the longer they have eaten it), the more likely it is that their stomach/throat/esophagus will be inflamed or damaged.
If your dog begins to vomit within an hour after eating drywall then you should take them to the vet immediately; if left untreated this situation can lead to perforation of the stomach wall, constipation, dehydration, and death.
Note: many dogs are unable to vomit because their gastrointestinal tract becomes blocked by large amounts of drywall (this condition can eventually cause toxin buildup inside a pup). That said, vomiting does not always lead to toxin removal – most drywall particles will settle in the stomach and remain there even when a dog vomits.
What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate Drywall?
1. Contact your vet
If you think that your dog has eaten drywall then you should contact your veterinarian immediately!
You may be advised to induce vomiting, take the dog’s temperature (to check for fever/shock), or meet them at the animal hospital.
Your vet will probably ask a lot of questions – such as: How much drywall did he eat? Is there still any laying on the floor? Do you have any leftover pieces? What type of wallboard does it resemble? and so on…
2. If your dog ate drywall: don’t panic!
When a pup eats sheetrock, most owners begin to panic and wonder if they should rush their pet into the animal hospital or induce vomiting.
While these are sensible recommendations, remember that you don’t know how much wallboard your dog swallowed or whether they will vomit at all; there are dogs who eat large amounts of gypsum board and never have an issue.
If your pooch does begin to vomit then take them to the vet immediately (if vomiting is excessive or frequent then you should meet with a vet under any circumstances).
But what if there’s no sign of vomiting after eating drywall? Don’t despair – not every pup has issues after eating sheetrock!
3. Clean up the mess ASAP
If drywall is all over the floor when you notice that your dog has eaten it then you’ll want to clean up the mess as soon as possible.
You can sweep or vacuum up small pieces of drywall and large ones could be picked up with a dustpan – just be careful!
When moving sheetrock around, you risk inhaling potentially harmful gypsum dust.
Drywall doesn’t usually leave crumbs, so if there are leftover particles (and they’re not loose) you should scoop them into a plastic bag for disposal at a recycling center.
This cleanup process may seem unnecessary but ingesting drywall can lead to severe throat inflammation in dogs; doing this will prevent further ingestion/damage to your pup’s throat/stomach.
4. Watch for vomiting and other stomach problems
If your dog begins to vomit after eating drywall (or if you’re not sure whether they’ve had a reaction or not) then take them to the vet immediately!
If your pooch vomits there is a good chance that they are suffering from an upset stomach; commonly ingested drywall will cause nausea, vomiting, gagging, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhea, and dehydration.
Note: It may be difficult to determine whether your dog has been poisoned by sulfuric acid (found in sheetrock) since dogs often develop stomach problems when exposed to foreign substances (such as carpet cleaners).
Always err on the side of caution – if you have any suspicion at all that your dog has eaten drywall then you should contact your vet ASAP (if you think it’s an emergency then skip the phone and just rush them to a medical facility).
5. It could be worse… it’s not always serious
There are many stories about dogs who have had life-threatening reactions when they ingested sheetrock – everything from perforated stomachs to death.
However, there are also numerous accounts of dogs eating wallboard multiple times without any issue.
Dogs who ingest large quantities of drywall may vomit more frequently than those who eat less; they might also develop gastrointestinal problems, such as gas, diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting.
Note: Some pups will develop “sheetrock breath” after exposure to drywall which is, thankfully, benign.
What Will The Vet Do?
If you see your dog eating drywall then take them to the vet… but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be admitted!
Each situation is unique, so there’s no way of knowing whether or not your pup will need further treatment.
If this is just a one-time thing (your dog ate some drywall and didn’t vomit) then you can meet with your veterinarian the next day for an examination.
The vet may want to do blood work; however, it’s rare that vets admit pets immediately after eating sheetrock since many owners exaggerate how much their pet has eaten, which leads to unnecessary hospital admissions / high medical bills!
There are a few cases where dogs who’ve eaten drywall need to be hospitalized – these include:
1. Dogs who have ingested large amounts of drywall with no ill effects in the first 12-24 hours (generally, this means that they swallowed one or two pieces).
2. Dogs who begin to vomit after eating drywall on more than one occasion (they may also be experiencing pain/nausea/vomiting/diarrhea).
3. Dogs who lose their appetite after eating sheetrock for over 24 hours.
Note: If your dog eats wallboard multiple times and then stops – don’t worry! It’s most likely nothing. But if the loss of appetite persists for longer than 72 hours then it could indicate a larger problem.
How To Prevent My Dog From Eating Drywall?
Unfortunately, dogs who are exposed to the drywall on a regular basis (such as during remodeling) may develop an addiction to the substance; this is similar to sugar or any other substance that is “highly palatable” (meaning tasty/addictive).
It takes time for your pup’s taste buds to adjust after eating wallboard so you should try and reduce their exposure as much as possible.
If you live in a home where you have a lot of sheetrock dust then consider purchasing some inexpensive plastic sheets.
If the dust is really bad then tape them along with problem areas such as corners and walls near studs!
Your pooch can still get up onto furniture/cabinets, just not right next to the source of all that gypsum… just like how you don’t want to eat next to a pile of sugar!
If your dog loves the stuff then it’s probably an issue of association – they’re associating the gypsum with good times (eating, sleeping, etc.).
To reduce this behavior try providing plenty of exercise before and after “sheetrock time.”
Don’t make walls available for your dog during meals; if possible try feeding in separate rooms then giving them free access to sheetrock at other times.
Remember: Dogs have a great sense of smell so put up some plastic sheets several days (or weeks) before you start sheetrocking; this will help reduce their craving for drywall. It might take some time but you should eventually be able to get your pup to lose interest in the stuff.
There are several methods that you can use to prevent your dog from eating drywall:
1. Plastic sheets – As mentioned above, these can be used to keep your pup away from problem areas. These sheets will eventually get dusty so it’s a good idea to replace them periodically. They should also be replaced if they become torn or damaged!
2. Dogsitter – Boarders and doggie-daycares provide great supervision for dogs who might otherwise eat wallboard; however, this isn’t an option for everyone! If your pup doesn’t get along well with other animals then you may want to consider hiring a private pet sitter for overnight visits (you’ll have plenty of time to do sheetrock in the evening).
3. Beware of lead – Before purchasing new drywall be sure to check out the manufacturer’s specs on acceptable levels of lead (<0.06%). Unfortunately, many older homes have higher amounts of lead which make it unsafe for pets; if your house is older than 1980 you should assume that there’s some lead in your drywall. Be careful to avoid high-risk areas for lead contamination – these include bare sheetrock (especially between studs), sanding/cutting dust, and flooring materials near baseboards (carpet, linoleum, or other types of flooring).
The Bottom Line
It’s stressful to watch your pup eat something you know they’re not supposed to… but it could be a lot worse.
There are many variables that will determine how serious the ingestion of drywall is for your dog; take them to the vet if there’s any suspicion of poisoning (even if they haven’t vomited or displayed other symptoms).
If you do this on time then it may prevent any serious damage from occurring. Good luck!