Hide your chewing gum: top 20 things dogs and cats try to eat

April 12, 2024 - 8 min read
This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your veterinarian with any questions you may have regarding your pet’s care, treatment, or medical conditions.
A young Australian Shepherd puppy lies on a gray rug, chewing on a brown sock.

Finding out your dog or cat ate something they shouldn't (or suspecting them based on the tipped-over garbage can) is a rite of passage for most pet parents.

At ManyPets, we've seen our fair share of claims for "foreign body ingestions"—aka dogs and cats trying to eat everything they can fit into their mouths—often with disastrous (and expensive) results.

We broke down some specific insurance claims* from our pack so you can see some of the biggest hazards pets are getting into. Some of these are notorious offenders (stuffed toys), and some might surprise you (razors??).

Let's get into it.

Top 20 things dogs and cats try to eat

Foreign object category Examples % of total claims
clothing/accessories socks, underwear, shoes, belts 10.9%
toys/chews stuffed toys, rope toys, rubber/plastic toys, squeakers, chews 10.5%
toxic/inedible foods corn cobs, fruit pits, gum, grapes/raisins, garbage, dead animals 10.2%
plastic plastic caps, bags, wrap, water bottles, treat/food bags 8.3%
metal coins, razor blades, needles, foil, magnets, cans 6.5%
bones animal bones (chicken, turkey, pork) 6.2%
household supply cat litter, sponges, tape, gloves, dryer sheets, eating utensils 5.8%
home decor/hardware holiday decor, furniture, hooks, nails, screws 5.3%
cloth/bedding bedding, pillows, towels, rags, misc. fabrics 4.9%
outdoor ingestibles sticks, rocks, sand, grass, wood chips 4.4%
string ribbon, string, thread 4.1%
balls rubber balls, tennis balls 3.9%
personal care/grooming dental floss, hairbrushes, dry shampoo, hair ties, scrunchies, headbands 3.5%
hygiene products tampons, pads, infant diapers, wet wipes 3.2%
batteries lithium ion, alkaline 2.9%
misc undetermined glass, rubber, general garbage/trash 2.7%
electronics charging cables, cords, accessories 2.1%
pet accessories leashes, harnesses, bowls, pet toothbrushes 1.8%
medications/drugs cigarettes, cigars, medications, marijuana, nicotene 1.5%
jewelry earrings, necklaces, bracelets, rings 1.2%

*ManyPets US "foreign body" claims from February 2021–March 2024. Non-specific claims excluded.


The #1 most common thing dogs and cats seemed to gravitate towards? Your wardrobe. Socks were a popular choice, but we also saw claims for general clothing, belts, and shoes. (One dog even tried to eat a cowboy boot.) And don't be surprised if your pet's raiding your hamper more often than your shelves—worn clothes smell like you, which makes them more appealing. Don't leave your clothes around unless you're keen on a surprise upcycling project courtesy of your pet.


The toy box can quickly become a toy graveyard if your pet's chews aren't up to the challenge. Squeakers were high on the list, as were plush toys. And for some powerful chewers, even Nylabones can pose a safety risk. Try to choose robust toys that are built for your pet's age and stage, and monitor your pet's playtime closely, especially if you got them something brand new. Finally, regularly replace toys that show signs of wear and tear to avoid more casualties.

Toxic/inedible foods

Is your cat a huge fan of the 5-second rule? We saw a lot of claims for the usual toxic foods, but we were surprised to see how many times impossible-to-digest things like "corn cobs" and "fruit pits" came up. One pup even consumed four bags of popcorn kernels. While many of us know to keep chocolate, coffee beans, and anything with xylitol (the majority of sugar-free chewing gums) far out of reach, look out for inedible parts of foods. Don't let your pup use a piece of fruit or corn as a chew toy, as they can eat the pit or cob faster than you think. And some pits are actually far more toxic than the fruits that house them (looking at you, cherries and plums). If you've got a trash can bandit, look into buying one that locks!

By the way, if you're curious about what human foods are safe for your cat or dog, bookmark our handy searchable pet food safety database:

Dog with banana

Pet food safety

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Enjoying a slice of watermelon and wondering if your dog or cat can have a bite? Check out our food safety database. We're adding new foods weekly!

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Plastic isn't just a nuisance in the landfill; it can also result in some hefty vet bills. Plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic bottles, and plastic caps featured quite a bit in our claims list. If your pet discovers their favorite treat in a bag, they'll likely ingest some of the bag to get to it. And even if it's empty, it could smell like whatever was in it, making it an appealing chew. If you like to give your pup a water bottle to chew on for the crunchy sounds it makes, make sure you don't leave them unattended with it.


Ever seen your dog gnawing on your shaver? Yikes. In addition to razor blades, we've seen claims for pets ingesting coins, magnets, foil, and even needles. You wouldn't think metal objects would smell tasty, but they are shiny and could easily catch your pet's eye. Unfortunately, not only can these items create blockages, they can also injure your pet's mouth and intestines. In some cases, they can even poison your pet. Don't leave your razor out, scout the house for loose change, and regularly patrol your living spaces for any metallic miscellanea.


Animal bones, the ultimate pet cliché, can be a real hazard for pets, as they're prone to splintering. Chicken bones, especially cooked ones, are a top culprit, followed by turkey and pork. And be careful—even bones at the pet store that claim to be safe for pets can break into dangerous shards.

Household supplies

Household supplies encompass a wide range of household objects, from plastic utensils to sponges to dryer sheets. Cat litter and pee pads also topped the menu for household supplies, resulting in emergency trips for removal. This category is tough—we do have tips for pet-proofing your house, but who can keep an eye on every piece of cardboard from an Amazon order?

Home decor/hardware

If your pet chews every piece of decor in the house, you're not alone. We saw claims for pets ingesting everything from carpet to wire to nails. And the holiday season brings its own set of challenges, with glass ornaments, Christmas lights, and tinsel transforming from festive decorations into potential hazards. You don't have to live in a barren home—just secure loose items and hardware and don't leave your pets alone in un-pet-proofed areas. And of course, be especially cautious with holiday decorations to avoid seasonal vet emergencies (we see quite a few of those).


Leaving your pet alone with a blanket or bed—even in a kennel—is a surprisingly risky proposition, particularly if you have a teething pet. But even an anxious dog or cat can shred their bedding to release stress. Try redirecting your pet to safe chew toys to satisfy their boredom or soothe their separation anxiety when you're out.

Outdoor ingestibles

Sure, a dog fetching sticks seems idyllic. Unfortunately, we saw a lot of claims for pets with sticks stuck in their mouths and intestines. Other natural objects pets try to eat? Rocks, sand, and even too much grass. Use safe toys for playtime to avoid choking hazards, and always supervise your pet outdoors or on walks to steer them away from dangerous spots they're drawn to.


Yarn, string, and threads aren't just the enemies of vacuum cleaners; they're also a serious health risk if your pet eats them. There's a reason why cats playing with balls of yarn is an old cliche; felines are especially drawn to string. Keep craft materials out of paws’ reach, and if you knit or sew, make sure your pet is in another room before your supplies come out.


While balls could technically be considered toys, we split them into a separate category due to the sheer volume of claims specific to balls of all kinds: Wiffle balls, baseballs, rubber balls, tennis balls, and even ping pong balls. While you don't have to write off balls as dog-safe toys entirely, make sure they're too big to fit into your pet's mouth but small enough for them to enjoy. Regularly inspect them for wear and tear, because no one wants a game of fetch to end in an unplanned surgery.

Personal care/grooming products

The bathroom and bedroom are treasure troves for pets, with hair ties, scrunchies, and dental floss doubling as irresistible playthings. And yeah, it can be cute to watch your cat bat around your scrunchies obsessively. But if they eat them, they can lead to severe digestive issues or even emergency surgery. Secure these small but potentially dangerous items in drawers or containers, and always make sure they're out of paw's reach.

Hygiene products

Chewing on hygiene products like used tampons, pads, and diapers isn't just gross; it's dangerous. Most of these products contain absorbent materials that can expand inside a pet's stomach, risking serious blockages. Opt for trash cans with secure lids, take bathroom trash out frequently, and try to keep bathroom doors firmly shut.


Lithium-ion and alkaline batteries pose a dual threat in homes with pets. Not only are these batteries found in everyday items like remotes, but their shiny exterior can catch the eye of a curious pet. If punctured or ingested, they can cause chemical burns or heavy metal poisoning, presenting a serious risk to your pet's health. Keep remotes and other battery-operated devices out of reach, and store spare batteries in secure locations. It's also a good idea to regularly inspect household items and kid's toys for loose batteries that could become tempting (and dangerous) chew toys.


Missing your earbuds? Laptop charger cable shredded? Uh oh. Items like headphones, chargers, and accessories aren't just expensive chew toys; they can also lead to blockages and even electric shock. Keep electronic devices and their accessories stored away when not in use and consider protective coverings for cords to deter curious chewers. And if you're using an Apple Airtag to track your pet's whereabouts, make sure they can't gnaw off their collar and eat it. (It's happened. At least you'll still know where they are.)

Pet accessories

Even items designed for pets, like collars, leashes, harnesses, and bowls, can pose ingestion risks if not chosen carefully. Make sure all pet accessories are the appropriate size for your pet and check them regularly for signs of wear and tear that could make them more likely to be chewed apart and eaten. Opt for durable, pet-safe materials and immediately dispose of damaged accessories (yup, even that frayed leash) to prevent pricey vet visits.


Pets can get into all sorts of mischief with medications, whether they're snagging nicotine pouches from the trash (true story) or chomping on some Tylenol. Casual walks can turn into emergency vet visits if they pick up cigar or cigarette butts or joints. Make sure your trash is pet-proof, hide your medications, and keep a sharp eye on your buddy when you’re out and about, steering them clear of anything suspicious they might try to snack on.


Missing an earring? Check under furniture and in other spots to make sure your pet doesn't find it first. Some curious cats and dogs gravitate towards small pieces like earrings, rings, and loose beads. (We've even seen a couple of claims for missing wedding rings.) Avoid leaving your jewelry out on tables or in countertop trays where agile cats and counter-surfing dogs can reach it.


From rubber parts to unidentified garage or garden finds, the miscellaneous category is a wildcard. It's the reason to strive to have a pet-proofed home and yard—any new object could be the next chew challenge. Regular patrols for debris and keeping a tidy house will go a long way in keeping your pet out of mischief.

How pet insurance can help

Pets tend to get into sticky situations, even in the most pet-proofed homes with the most cautious owners. And a lot of these emergencies can be costly. Pet insurance is designed to reimburse you for those unexpected accidents and illnesses that might come your way.* Get your price today:

Get a risk-free quote for pet insurance

*pre-existing conditions excluded. See your policy for details.

Leanna Zeibak
Content Manager

Leanna Zeibak is a Content Manager at ManyPets. In her spare time, she paints pet portraits and bakes far too many chocolate chip cookies.