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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Dog Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 10440
Experience:  I have owned, bred and shown dogs for over 40 years.
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Is mechanical pencil lead poisonous to dogs?

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My dog just ate a plastic box full of mechanical pencil graphite lead. What should I do? Is his intestinal tract in danger of getting torn?

I'm sorry for this concern for Merlin but let me reassure you that pencil graphite is not particularly toxic to a dog; it's not considered harmful. But depending on the amount that he ate and if he ate the box, I might worry a bit about obstruction.

So, my questions to you would be:
1. How long ago did he actually eat the graphite?
2. How much was ingested?
3. How much does he weigh?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you Dr. Deb. He ate it about half an hour ago. A whole box and the graphite was ingested, about 6cm tall and 1 cm wide box, 30 thin sticks of graphite. He weighs 15 lbs.

You're welcome.

Again the graphite itself is not the problem but the amount ingested might be for a dog this size although I would be surprised if it does.

I wouldn't encourage you to induce vomiting since the sharp edges of the graphite might cause problems with the esophagus on the way back up.

You basically have two options:

1. Take Merlin to an ER hospital where they hopefully have an endoscope so that the offending material might be retrieved.
2. Hope that he'll pass the material on his own with a little help from you.

Feed him bread which can help coat the graphite and some of his kibble and possibly more fiber to help move things along. You might also consider a bland diet of boiled chicken and rice since looser stools might be seen if the edges cause some damage to the intestines as they move through. The intestinal lining is pretty tough so you shouldn't have to worry about perforation.
If looser stools are seen, it should resolve pretty quickly once the material is out of his body.

If you elect option #2, then you'll want to monitor for signs of obstruction which might include vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain and/or lethargy.
I would monitor his stools for evidence of the graphite and box...usually about 24-36 hours after ingestion is when they might show up.

Most dogs will be able to pass this sort of thing with no problem but there's just no way to predict if he'll be one of those lucky ones or not.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Deb and other Dog Specialists are ready to help you
I'm just following up on our conversation about Merlin. How is he doing? Deb
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hey sorry I haven't gotten back to you! He's just fine! Merlin is as happy as ever, my mother said she saw some plastic in his stool so I think everything was safely passed. Thanks again!

No worries:) I assumed that Merlin was fine but it's nice to have it confirmed.
Tell him to stay out of trouble...although there may not be much hope of that until he's older and maybe not even then! Deb