Is Silly String Toxic to Dogs? (safety facts revealed)

For the most part, the Silly String is relatively safe for dogs. However, it’s different when ingested, and here’s why.

While the Silly String is non-toxic, the product contains gastrointestinal and mucous membrane irritants Isopropyl Alcohol and Tetrafluoroethane. These components can cause dogs to vomit, have diarrhea, and develop stomach ulcers. A lot of Silly String can also obstruct the digestive system.

While many assume ‘toxic’ and ‘hazardous’ are synonymous, there’s a distinct difference. Ingesting substances not intended for consumption often poses risks, even if they aren’t technically poisonous. Silly String, for instance, might not be inherently toxic, but it is dangerous for dogs due to its components.

Let’s explore in more detail what Silly String is made from and why it’s unsafe for your dog to eat it.

two dogs with silly string and a can in mouth

What Is Silly String Made From? (Ingredients)

Silly String is made up of components that are spread throughout a liquid solvent in the aerosol can.

Among these substances are:

  • polymer resin that gives the string’s structure, 
  • plasticizer that adjusts the string’s physical qualities, 
  • and a surfactant that encourages the foaming of the product
  • Other elements include silicone fluid (to make cleaning the strands easier), a flame retardant, and a color pigment.

The current formulation is yet to be published, but according to several sources, the Silly String contains isopropyl alcohol and Tetrafluoroethane.

Both can induce gastrointestinal problems, but not as much if consumed in small amounts. However, if a dog consumes too much Silly String, it could easily block the stomach’s opening or obstruct the small intestine, which could be fatal.

However, it’s worth noting that even if Silly String isn’t outright poisonous, the irritants it contains can lead to severe complications. Being proactive and ensuring our pets don’t get access to such items can prevent potential health risks.

What Happens if a Dog Eats a Silly String?

Silly string is not bioavailable, which means the body cannot absorb it. In other words, the Silly String is not toxic. However, if consumed in high quantities, it might irritate and induce digestive obstruction in dogs.

If swallowed, the Silly String includes compounds that can irritate mucosal membranes. It can even result in ulceration. This effect should only last a short time in healthy dogs and quickly disappear.

However, if the dog eats a lot of Silly String, he could get gastrointestinal blockage and ulcers.

Anything that dogs can consume should be regarded as potentially hazardous. Even most human foods can be poisonous to dogs, so don’t assume they can eat whatever they come across. For example, they cannot consume chocolate, apple cores, onions, grapes, and other seemingly innocuous things.

Suggested read: Dog Poisoning Symptoms and Actions to Take

Remember, a substance doesn’t have to be inherently poisonous to pose a threat. In the case of Silly String, it’s the physical and chemical reactions in the dog’s body that are of concern.

How to Help a Dog That Ate Silly String?

It would be best if you took your dog to the vet. You can do it even if you’ve never been to the vet. If you can’t do that, you should call your vet and ask what you should do. He may recommend a prescription to help ulcers heal and even educate you on how to administer it to your dog.

You can inspect your dog’s mouth to see if he is chewing on a lot of Silly String. If you notice flushed, raw ulcerated regions on his tongue and gums, he likely has ulcers on his esophagus and stomach.

If this is the case, your dog will most likely require medicine. It’s a good idea to take them to the clinic or ask your vet how to medicate them at home.

Always have an emergency pet first-aid kit handy at home. This can include activated charcoal which might be useful in some ingestion cases, but always consult your vet before administering any remedies.

After medicating, if all goes well and he eats and does not vomit, you should feed him the bland diet for 2 to 3 days before gradually reintroducing his regular meal. It should take about 5 to 7 days to return progressively to his regular diet.

If he refuses to eat, vomits again, develops a fever, or has a tight, painful belly, he is not a candidate for home therapy. He must be examined and treated by a veterinarian.

Read more: Even tennis balls can be harmful to dogs.

blue and pink silly string up close

How To Clean Silly String in Your Home?

I bought five cans of Silly String to celebrate my son’s birthday. Kids ran around and sprayed each other for about 30 seconds. I spent five hours cleaning up.

So I know it can be a difficult thing to do. Mostly, it’s easy to clean Silly string, but some areas can be problematic.

A spray bottle filled with water and mineral spirits would suffice for less critical areas, but not walls. Ensure the bottle is filled with an equal mixture of water and mineral spirits before spraying the mix on the dirty areas.

Be cautious when cleaning up any Silly String on the walls or ceiling. Brush it away gently in a circular motion with a dry toothbrush. Avoid putting anything moist near it since dye transfer may occur. When you’ve finished brushing, wipe it down with a damp towel, dish soap, or your chosen cleaner.

If nothing else works, try acetone. If you do decide to use acetone to clean an indoor wall, take measures and make sure you have adequate ventilation. Acetone produces a lot of noxious odors.

To remove the Silly String off the wood table, use a mild abrasive. Untreated wood may scratch, so check underneath first.

Remember that Silly String is flammable. Don’t set someone on fire if you were preparing to spray a lot of it on them as they blow out their birthday candles.

Here’s an example of what can happen:

Silly String caught fire on a girl’s head during a birthday party

Additionally, always store aerosol products like Silly String out of reach from pets. The pressurized cans can be tempting toys, but a puncture could lead to unexpected hazards.

Looking to protect your pup from harmful household objects? Check these posts to learn about the dangers of your dog ingesting:


What would happen if a person ate a Silly String?

Even in humans, ingesting Silly String has the potential to result in ulceration, but this should only be a short-term problem. If they consume too much Silly String, the consequences could be fatal, and they should seek medical attention immediately.

Is Silly String harmful to cats?

Cats should not play with toys made of string, yarn, dental floss, or pipe cleaners because they might eat small parts. They may result in intestinal blockages, necessitating urgent surgery or even death in extreme circumstances.

Can dogs pass small strings in general?

Because the intestine cannot pass the string, it will crawl up. The thread can occasionally cut through the intestine, causing a hole. String and rope can get lodged in the intestines and produce a blockage. Therefore, I would induce vomiting in your dog, just in case.

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