Skip to content

As dog owners, we know that our furry companions can be curious and occasionally get into things they shouldn’t, especially colorful items. This is especially true if there are kids around, which often means there might be crayons lying around the house. While crayons are generally safe for children, it’s crucial for dog owners to be cautious if their four-legged friends happen to ingest these colorful sticks. In this article, we’ll explore whether crayons are dangerous for dogs, the chemicals that can make them harmful, the variables that affect their toxicity, how to recognize crayon poisoning symptoms, what actions to take, and the importance of seeking professional help if needed.

Are Crayons Dangerous for Dogs?

In general, the consumption of small amounts of crayons is unlikely to pose a serious health threat to dogs. Most crayons are made from non-toxic materials, such as paraffin wax and pigments, which are considered safe. However, certain factors can make ingested crayons potentially harmful to dogs.

The Chemicals and Their Effects:

Some crayons may contain additional chemicals or dyes that could be toxic to dogs if ingested in large amounts. For instance, some imported or little-known brands may use additives, such as lead, phthalates, or other dyes or pigments, which can be harmful when consumed in significant quantities, but the vast majority of the crayon brands sold in stores are non-toxic. However, if these chemicals are present, they can lead to gastrointestinal irritation, digestive upset, or, in severe cases, poisoning symptoms.1

Recognizing Crayon Poisoning Symptoms:

While the majority of crayons are made from non-toxic materials, it’s important to be cautious if your dog ingests a significant amount of crayons or if you suspect the presence of potentially harmful chemicals. Most commonly, crayon ingestion may result in mild gastrointestinal upset. However, if you notice any severe or unusual symptoms, or if you have concerns about your dog’s health, it is recommended to seek veterinary care for appropriate evaluation and guidance.

Common Symptoms (associated with the majority of brands, which are non-toxic):

  • Vomiting: Ingesting crayons may cause your dog to vomit as their body attempts to expel the foreign substance.
  • Diarrhea: Crayon ingestion can lead to diarrhea, resulting in loose or watery stool.
  • Drooling: Excessive drooling or hypersalivation may occur as a reaction to the ingested crayon.
  • Abdominal discomfort: Dogs experiencing crayon poisoning may show signs of abdominal discomfort, such as restlessness or a hunched posture.
  • Loss of appetite: Your dog may exhibit a decreased desire to eat or a complete loss of appetite due to the digestive upset caused by the crayon.
  • Lethargy: A general lack of energy or increased tiredness can be observed in dogs affected by crayon ingestion.

Rare Symptoms (associated with toxic chemicals and large quantities consumed):

  • Respiratory issues: In rare cases, certain crayons containing toxic chemicals may cause difficulty breathing or rapid breathing.
  • Tremors or seizures: Severe reactions to toxic chemicals in certain crayons may result in tremors (shaking) or even seizures.
  • Collapse: In extreme cases of crayon poisoning, weakness, loss of coordination, and collapse can occur.

Concluding Thoughts: What to Do if Poisoning is Suspected

While crayons are generally considered safe for children, it’s crucial for dog owners to remain cautious and attentive to their pets. If you believe your dog has ingested a crayon with toxic chemicals or a large quantity of crayons and is experiencing symptoms of poisoning, it’s essential to contact your veterinarian or a pet poison control helpline immediately. They will provide expert guidance tailored to your dog’s specific situation. Do not induce vomiting or administer any medication without professional advice, as the wrong treatment can worsen the situation. Remember, when in doubt, always consult a veterinary professional.

  1. The toxicity of wax crayons in animals, (2023).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Small amounts of crayon are generally safe for dogs, as most crayons are made from non-toxic materials. However, large quantities or the presence of specific chemicals can be harmful.

  • The exact number of crayons that would require vet care depends on several factors, including the size of your dog, the specific chemicals present in the crayons, and any symptoms exhibited. It is recommended to contact a veterinarian or a pet poison control helpline for guidance if you suspect your dog has ingested a significant amount of crayons.

  • While most crayon brands use non-toxic materials, it’s important to be aware that certain lower-quality brands might contain potentially toxic chemicals. These chemicals can vary, but some concerns have been raised regarding the presence of additives like lead, phthalates, or other harmful pigments in some cheaper or imported crayons. It is generally advisable to stick with reputable and well-known brands that have a track record of using non-toxic materials in their crayons.
About the Writer
Dan Greco , Dog Dad

Having been a dog dad for 5 years, I know how hard it is to make sure your dog gets the right nutrients and stays away from hazardous foods. With the help of a veterinarian who specializes in nutrition, I created this blog to help dog owners quickly access food information they need.

photo of vet holding a pup
About the Contributor
Dr. Hillary Wolfe , Veterinarian & Certified Food Therapist

Dr. Wolfe holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine from Kansas State University and holds nutrition certifications from the NAVC and CIVT. Her business, Tula Veterinary Nutrition, hosts online courses that teach owners how to cook for their pet for optimal health and longevity. Follow her on Instagram at @doctorwolfe.dvm for dog nutrition tips, recipes and insights.