Dog Ate Nerf Bullet: Immediate Actions and Prevention Tips

Dogs are known to be curious creatures, often chewing on and ingesting objects that may not be suitable for consumption. One such object that has caused concern among dog owners is the foam Nerf bullet.

While these bullets are designed to be harmless in play for children, they can pose a risk when ingested by our furry friends.

Nerf bullets are made of a soft foam material that is meant to be safe for children but can still cause problems for dogs. If your dog has eaten a Nerf bullet, it’s essential to pay close attention to their behavior and watch for any signs of discomfort and complications.

The foam material can potentially lead to gastrointestinal issues, such as blockages in the stomach and intestines, resulting in serious medical complications if not addressed promptly.

Key Takeaways

  • Dogs may experience gastrointestinal issues if they ingest a Nerf bullet
  • Observe your dog for signs of discomfort or complications after they’ve eaten a Nerf bullet
  • Prompt intervention is necessary to avoid serious medical problems

Understanding Nerf Bullets

dog ate nerf darts

Nerf bullets, also known as Nerf darts, are foam projectiles designed for use in Nerf guns, which are popular toy guns produced by Hasbro. These toys have been around for a long time and are loved by children and adults alike.

The primary material used in Nerf bullets is soft, non-toxic foam, which makes them safe for play. The intention behind using such materials is to ensure that these toys do not cause harm to children during their playtime. However, this does not mean that they are entirely harmless when ingested by pets, such as dogs.

Dogs are naturally curious creatures and may, at times, decide to gnaw on these foam projectiles. Although the foam is technically edible, ingesting Nerf bullets can lead to certain problems for your dog. Here are a few potential risks and symptoms to keep in mind:

  • Gastrointestinal upset: Consuming Nerf bullets may result in your dog experiencing vomiting or diarrhea. This can be due to the indigestible nature of the foam, which can irritate their stomach and intestines.
  • Blockages: Depending on the size of your dog and the number of Nerf bullets ingested, there is a risk of blockages forming within their digestive system. Large Nerf bullets or pieces can cause partial or full obstructions, leading to constipation or other complications.
  • Abdominal pain: Ingesting Nerf bullets might cause your dog to experience abdominal pain or swelling, which can, in turn, affect their appetite and overall comfort.

Considering the potential risks, it’s essential to keep an eye on your pet if you suspect they’ve eaten a Nerf bullet. Be vigilant for symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, and loss of appetite. In case of any concerns, always reach out to a veterinarian for guidance.

Why Dogs Eat Non-Food Items

Dog’s Natural Curiosity

Dogs, especially puppies, are naturally curious creatures. They explore their environment using all of their senses, including taste. Chewing and eating various objects is part of their neurosensory exploration, meaning they are understanding differences in textures and tastes. Puppies usually grow out of this phase as they mature. However, some dogs may continue to exhibit this behavior even as adults.

Dogs will chew anything, string, earplugs, shoes, or even sofas.


Boredom can be another reason why dogs eat non-food items such as Nerf gun bullets. When dogs do not have enough mental and physical stimulation, they may resort to destructive behaviors, including chewing and eating unusual objects.

Providing ample opportunities for exercise, play, and interactive toys can help alleviate boredom in dogs and prevent such unwanted behaviors.


Anxiety can also play a role in a dog’s decision to eat non-food items. In some cases, dogs suffering from anxiety might develop a condition called pica, which is characterized by the compulsive ingestion of non-food items.

Dealing with anxiety in dogs may require behavioral modification techniques and possibly medication, depending on the severity of the condition. Addressing the underlying causes of anxiety can help reduce a dog’s desire to consume items like Nerf gun bullets.

Hazards of Dogs Eating Nerf Bullets

what happens to a dog if they eat a nerf dart

Digestive Obstruction

One of the primary hazards from a dog swallowing a Nerf bullet is the potential for digestive obstruction. The non-digestible components of the Nerf bullet can become stuck in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract, causing problems such as:

  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

If your pet accidentally swallows a Nerf bullet, it is important to contact a veterinarian immediately to determine if it may cause damage and discuss appropriate action.

Toxicity Concerns

Fortunately, Nerf bullets are not toxic to dogs. However, depending on the dog’s size, amount of Nerf bullets ingested, and whether the dog chewed the Nerf bullet into smaller pieces before swallowing, there may be other health concerns related to the ingestion of these foam darts.

For example, choking hazards could arise from an obstructed airway, potentially leading to organ failure or other dangerous conditions. To address this, check the dog’s airway and remove anything blocking it when you suspect choking.

What to Do If Your Dog Eats a Nerf Bullet

Monitor Your Dog

If you suspect your dog has swallowed a Nerf bullet, the first thing you should do is monitor your pet for signs of distress. Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to take action immediately.

Contact a Veterinarian

If your dog is showing symptoms or if you are unsure whether your pet has ingested a Nerf bullet, call your veterinarian as soon as possible. Describe the situation and provide details about when the incident happened, and follow the vet’s advice on what to do next.

In some cases, a veterinarian may suggest bringing your dog in for a check-up or treatment. It’s essential to follow their recommendations to ensure your pet receives the best possible care.

Necessary Interventions

Depending on the situation and your veterinarian’s advice, there are different interventions they may suggest:

  • Manual removal: If you can see part of the Nerf bullet in your dog’s mouth and it’s easy to reach, try to gently swipe it away with your finger.
  • Veterinary assistance: If the Nerf bullet is lodged in your dog’s mouth or throat or if you cannot remove it easily, seek professional help from a veterinarian. They may be able to remove the object safely.
  • Observation: If your dog has already swallowed the Nerf bullet and is not showing any signs of distress, your veterinarian may recommend monitoring your pet closely and waiting for the object to pass naturally through their digestive system.

Remember, it’s vital to act quickly and follow your veterinarian’s advice if your dog ingests a Nerf bullet. Always keep Nerf guns and bullets out of reach from your pets to prevent such incidents from occurring.

Preventing Dogs from Eating Non-Food Items

Safe Environment Creation

Creating a safe environment for your dog is the foundation of preventing them from ingesting non-food items like Nerf bullets. This includes:

  • Regularly tidying up their play area and removing any small objects that may pose a risk
  • Storing toys and other items that are not meant for dogs in a secure location
  • Supervising your dog during playtime, especially when they are around objects they might be tempted to chew on

Proper Training

Training your dog is essential for their overall well-being and safety. By teaching your dog essential commands, they can understand what is allowed and what is not. There are a few key training tips to follow:

  • Teach your dog the “leave it” command, so they learn not to pick up non-food items
  • Provide appropriate chew toys and praise them for chewing on these toys
  • Redirect their attention if you notice them trying to pick up or chew on things they shouldn’t

Regular Exercise

Ensuring your dog gets regular exercise is another important aspect of preventing them from eating non-food items. A well-exercised dog:

  • Is less likely to have pent-up energy, which may lead them to chew on inappropriate items in an attempt to entertain themselves
  • Will typically be more interested in appropriate toys and play with their owners, as opposed to seeking out non-food items

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Nerf darts toxic to dogs?

Nerf darts are made of soft foam, which is designed to be safe for children to play with. However, they are not specifically made to be ingested by dogs, and ingesting them may lead to gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting or diarrhea in some cases.

How to help a dog that swallowed a Nerf bullet?

If you are certain that your dog swallowed a Nerf bullet, keep a close eye on them for any signs of distress, which may include:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

If you notice any of these signs, consult with your veterinarian immediately for further guidance.

What are the potential complications if a dog ate a Nerf dart?

Although Nerf darts are generally not toxic, ingesting a Nerf dart may cause the following potential complications in a dog:

  • Gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea
  • Blockage in the digestive tract
  • Perforation of the intestines or stomach

How to prevent dogs from eating Nerf bullets?

To prevent your dog from eating Nerf bullets, follow these tips:

  • Keep Nerf bullets and guns out of your dog’s reach when not in use.
  • Supervise playtime when using Nerf toys around your dog.
  • Train your dog basic obedience skills, such as “leave it” and “drop it,” to help avoid potential dangers.

Can a swallowed Nerf bullet cause blockage in a dog?

Yes, a swallowed Nerf bullet could potentially cause a blockage in a dog’s digestive tract, depending on the size of the dog, for example, a Nerf dart may cause a larger problem for a smaller dog than for a larger dog.

What are the signs of distress in a dog after ingesting a Nerf dart?

If a dog has ingested a Nerf dart and is experiencing distress, observe for the following signs:

  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

Always consult your veterinarian if you suspect your dog is experiencing distress from ingesting a Nerf dart, as they can provide the appropriate guidance and treatment.