How Big Of A Rock Can A Dog Pass?

correct answerThe Short Answer is:

Foreign objects are one of the most common things that dogs eat so you shouldn’t be surprised if your pet ate a rock. There’s a good chance that the dog will pass the rock safely if it’s small enough less than 1.5 inches in diameter.

The purpose of this research is to explain “How Big Of A Rock Can A Dog Pass?“.

If your dog has swallowed a rock there are basically two possible outcomes – either he can pass the rock safely or he will have to undergo surgery which is quite traumatic and risky for the dog not to mention incredibly expensive.

The million-dollar question is: Can the dog pass the foreign object? The answer to this question is complicated. We will examine what can happen and what the chances are that your dog will get rid of that rock the natural way.

All the information is based on the assumption that your dog appears to be healthy and exhibiting no unusual symptoms. Donot waste your time reading this if your pet seems distressed. Go to the vet instead.

What happens when a dog eats a rock

New pet parents might find this odd but experienced dog owners know their animals are naturally curious and can swallow almost anything including rocks.

Seeing as you are reading this your pet has probably done something naughty. If you saw him playing with a stone you probably saw him throwing it. You must know the size and shape of the rock as this is very important.

The good news is that your dog did not choke on the rock which can happen with a large or irregularly-shaped dog that gets stuck in the esophagus.

One might be tempted to think that since the dog swallowed it without a problem he’ll probably be able to get it out the other end just as easily too. It is possible that the rock might not reach the other end at all if a lot happens along the way.

If you’re looking for a definitive answer experts say a dog can pass a rock smaller than 1.5 inches in diameter safely. We’re talking about really large dogs here and they have been pretty lucky at eliminating rocks up to two inches in diameter.

Depending on the shape of the rock your dog has a better chance of passing the foreign object. The dogs gastrointestinal tract will be more easily navigated by a smooth river stone rather than a rock with sharp edges. A rock of this type can cause a lot of internal damage such as destroying stomach linings or causing intestinal blockages.

How long does it take for a rock to pass through the GI tract?

Whenever a dog consumes a foreign object timing is everything. The rock your dog swallowed may still be in its stomach if you just witnessed it. Experts say that food or in this case non-food spends up to two hours in the stomach before moving on to the intestines.

The foreign object can take between 10 and 24 hours to make it to the other end if it makes it which is not always the case. It is possible for a foreign object to remain in the stomach for weeks or even months.

How to make your dog throw up

You can induce vomiting if you believe the rock is small enough for the dog to throw it up. Dogs are more likely to throw up if they have some (real) food in their stomachs. Provide the dog with a small meal if he hasnot eaten anything in the past two hours and include some small pieces of bread to help cushion the rock.

You can easily induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide by squirting it down his throat. To get the peroxide down his throat use a plastic syringe (without a needle) or a turkey baster. If you are using a higher concentration ensure that it is 3% hydrogen peroxide. One teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide per five pounds of body weight is recommended.

In interaction with digestive acids the solution acts as an irritant and the dog vomits most of the stomachs are thrown up. Try again 30 minutes later if it does not work. To determine if the stone was removed from the mess you will need to carefully examine the mess. Hold on to your nose!

What can happen if the rock is stuck in the stomach

An ingested rock may stay in the dogs stomach for quite some time after it has been swallowed. Often the owner had no idea what was wrong with his dog until a rock or several were discovered during a clinical examination.

The main issue here is that the rock is often too large to pass through the pyloric valve that connects the stomach with the intestines so it is essentially stuck. Surgical intervention is the only option if the dog did not throw up the food.

What can happen if the rock is lodged in the intestines

In addition even if the rock is small enough to pass through the pyloric valve there is no guarantee that it is on its way out. Rocks with rough edges can damage or puncture the intestines leading to massive infection something that will require intensive and expensive treatment for your pet.

Once the rock reaches the ileocecal junction (the junction between the small and large intestines) it may become stuck. Most likely if it reaches the colon it will be safely eliminated although it might be painful. It can cause an intestinal blockage if lodged anywhere in the intestines which is a very serious matter since an untreated blockage can result in death.

Warning signs you should watch out for

When your dog swallows a rock small enough to swallow safely you are not dealing with a medical emergency. In the short term anyway. You should however keep your pet under constant supervision for the next 24 hours and watch for any changes to his normal behavior. Taking your pet to the vet immediately is only necessary if he swallows coins or small batteries which can be toxic. Stones in themselves do not pose such a risk so you can afford to wait.

  • Repeated bouts of vomiting (not induced by you) usually indicate that the foreign object is still in the dogs stomach and it is causing irritation. Vomiting is a symptom of intestinal blockage so if the dog keeps vomiting the next day and theres no sign of the rock in his poop you should be very concerned. Here are some other signs to watch out for:
  • Bloated distended stomach tender to the touch
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue

Keep an eye on your pets bowel movements but keep in mind that he may still be able to poop even if less than usual. Partial obstruction is just as dangerous as a complete obstruction. Any of these symptoms or other signs of distress – its your pet you know when hes sick – should be reported immediately to your veterinarian.

What to expect at the vet

In addition to checking vital signs the vet will try to feel your pets stomach and abdominal region. The best way to determine the offending object is to have the dog undergo an X-ray to determine where it is located as this type of exam is often inconclusive.

When the doctor believes theres a chance the dog will poop out the stone he might recommend waiting and watching. When the rock is over 2 inches in diameter he will probably recommend surgery to remove it. Such surgery costs upwards of $1000 which will be a huge blow to your finances. You can certainly wait a bit more if your dogs condition is not particularly concerning and many pet owners prefer to do so. Perhaps you would feel more at ease if you sought a second opinion from another veterinarian.

However you do not want to wait too long since an intestinal blockage can be lethal to your pet. The obstruction can interfere with normal blood flow and can cause intestinal tissue to die. In this case the affected part of the intestines will need to be removed during surgery. Peritonitis can be caused by a sharp-edged rock puncturing the intestines. 

The bottom line is that if the rock gets into the intestines it can cause a lot more damage than it can in the stomach. Intestinal blockages may cost as much as $2000 for surgery. Your dog may have to be hospitalized if he develops peritonitis and will need massive antibiotics so we’re talking about a lot more money than stomach surgery.

Don’t wait until it’s too late

When a dog has a full intestinal blockage he will die within 3-4 days if he does not receive medical treatment. At the same time if your dog has a partial obstruction he may waste away before your eyes. Though it may take longer three to four weeks and the symptoms may be less severe the outcome is almost always negative. It means that if nothing happens after 24 hours and the rock is not eliminated on one end or the other do not wait for nature to take its course as it could be for the worst.


Foreign objects are one of the most common things that dogs eat so you should not be surprised if your pet ate a rock. Theres a good chance that the dog will pass the rock safely if its small enough less than 1.5 inches in diameter. As long as you are confident that the rock was small and smooth you can wait and see what happens. The rock should be removed within 24 hours.

If thats not the case or if you have seen your dog swallowing a big rock do not hesitate to call the vet. A foreign object lodged in the intestines is something that needs to be avoided at all costs as the consequences can be fatal.

If you want to read more about dog health tips read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

How Big Of A Rock Can A Dog Pass? (Watch Video)

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