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Dogs are curious creatures, and they often find themselves in situations where they come into contact with unexpected objects. One such scenario is when your furry friend gets their paws on a pencil. Pencils can be found in various settings, from homes and offices to schools and art studios, next to paints, crayons, and Play-Doh. In this article, we’ll explore whether pencils pose a danger to dogs and what steps you should take if your canine companion happens to ingest one.

Are Pencils Dangerous for Dogs?

While pencils are not inherently toxic to dogs, ingesting them can still lead to health issues. The level of danger depends on several factors, including the size of the dog, the type of pencil, and the amount consumed, as well as the graphite.1 Pencils are typically made of wood, which can splinter when chewed or swallowed. These splinters can cause injury to your dog’s mouth, throat, or digestive tract. In some cases, the pencil fragments may obstruct the intestinal passage, leading to severe discomfort and potential blockages. It is important to understand the potential risks and be aware of the symptoms that may indicate your dog is experiencing complications.

Tip: Pencil “lead” is not really made of lead, but typically consists of a mixture of graphite and clay. Graphite is a non-toxic form of carbon commonly used for writing and drawing purposes. When consumed in small amounts, the graphite in pencils is unlikely to cause significant harm to dogs. Only ingestion of large quantities may lead to digestive issues, but rarely poisoning.

Symptoms of Sickness:

If your dog has ingested a pencil or pencil fragments, be vigilant for the following symptoms:

  • Vomiting: Excessive vomiting or the presence of blood in the vomit may indicate an obstruction or internal injury.
  • Diarrhea: Frequent loose stools or diarrhea can be a sign of digestive distress.
  • Abdominal Pain: Your dog may exhibit signs of discomfort, such as restlessness, whimpering, or a tense abdomen.
  • Lethargy: Unusual tiredness or lack of energy may indicate an underlying issue.
  • Loss of Appetite: If your dog refuses to eat or shows a decreased interest in food, it could be a red flag.

What to Do in Case of Potential Effects

If you suspect your dog has ingested a pencil or is showing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it is crucial to act promptly. Contact your veterinarian immediately for guidance. They will be able to assess the situation and advise you on the appropriate course of action, which may involve further examination or treatment.

Concluding Thoughts on Dogs and Pencils

While pencils are not inherently toxic to dogs, they can still pose a risk if ingested. Splinters and obstruction are the primary concerns associated with pencil consumption. It’s vital to be aware of the symptoms that may indicate your dog is experiencing complications. If you suspect your dog has ingested a pencil or is displaying any signs of illness, contacting your veterinarian is the best course of action. Prompt attention can help ensure the well-being of your furry friend.

  1. Review—Pencil Graphite Electrode: An Emerging Sensing Material, (2019).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Most pencils nowadays are made with graphite, not lead, which is generally considered non-toxic. However, ingesting large amounts of graphite can still cause digestive issues and should be evaluated by a veterinarian.

  • Depending on the size and shape of the pencil and the size of your dog, it is possible for a dog to pass a swallowed pencil naturally. However, it is essential to consult with a veterinarian to determine the best course of action based on your dog’s specific circumstances.


  • To prevent your dog from chewing on pencils, keep them out of your dog’s reach. Additionally, providing appropriate chew toys and redirecting their attention can help satisfy their chewing instinct.

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.