Please Use Caution With Rainbow Looms & Twistz Bandz
A lot of fun can be had making creative bracelets from the colorful rubber bands that come with a Rainbow Loom set. Dr. and Ms. Winkler even have some bracelets that were a gift from their nephew. While we at the Suffolk Veterinary Group Animal Wellness & Laser Surgery Center support and encourage creative learning in children, as parents and pet owners ourselves, we feel the need to provide other families with this warning.
Within this past week we have seen one too many patients with stomach upset as a result of ingestion of the tiny, colorful rubber bands that make up the Rainbow Loom bracelets. One canine patient that had been feeling ill for several days vomited a significant amount of these rubber bands. Other patients are at risk of ingesting these rubber bands due to the looms, rubber bands, and bracelets being left around the house within easy reach. At the end of a particularly busy day, we found several of these rubber bands on our lobby floor, lost by a child who’d been very well behaved entertaining themselves with a Rainbow Loom while their companion received an exam. Thankfully we picked them up before any patients could eat them.
There is no way to know how many rubber bands a patient must eat before they become sick, or if these rubber bands will pass through the intestinal tract without doing damage. A large canine patient may eat several rubber bands and defecate them out a day later. Another canine patient may eat one rubber band and become very sick. These are especially dangerous to feline patients, who have smaller and much more sensitive stomachs than dogs. Cats already prone to eating string may find these tiny rubber bands too good to pass up. Again, there is no way to know if these rubber bands will pose an immediate danger to your pet if ingested, therefore we will be treating any ingestion of Rainbow Loom rubber bands as a medical emergency.
The tricky part is, these rubber bands do not necessarily always show up on x-ray due to the fact that they are made of rubber, which is not a particularly radio-opaque material. Therefore, diagnosis may be difficult, and require multiple radiographs using barium. Rubber bands that get tangled up in other stomach contents can form a blockage in the intestines, which would require immediate surgery to remove.
We don’t want anybody to ban Rainbow Looms from their house, nor will we be banning them from our hospital lobby. But we do ask that you and your family please take the following precautions to prevent your pet from eating any Rainbow Loom rubber bands.
1. Keep rubber bands in containers with a locking lid. Tupperware containers, plastic organizers, or any other box that your pet cannot open, and that will not open on its own if it is dropped by accident. Make sure the container is big enough to fit all the rubber bands, and then a little bit larger. Trying to squeeze a large amount of rubber bands into a small container is one way the rubber bands will spill out and get within easy reach of your pet.
2. Keep looms and rubber bands where pets cannot reach them. Use the loom at a table instead of seated on a couch. Do not use the looms or rubber bands on the floor. When done with a project, keep the loom and rubber bands in a cabinet your pet can’t open.
3. Do not allow pets to play with bracelets already on a wrist. Some pets might attempt to use bracelets as a toy, please, do not allow this. If your pet is biting at a bracelet, you can purchase a product known as “Bitter Apple,” which is really nasty tasting, and spray it on the bracelet to prevent a pet from biting at it.
4. Do not decorate a pet’s collar or leash with anything made from the rubber bands. This is providing access to the rubber bands by associating them with things your pet is familiar with, therefore your pet may not realize these items are not for them.
5. Do not place anything made from rubber bands on your pet. Rainbow Loom bracelets on pets is not a good idea. If they are not made large enough, they can cut off the circulation to the body part they are wrapped around, as well as start sawing into the skin of the pet.
6. Please, please, please, constantly talk to your kids about the importance of cleaning up after their Rainbow Loom sessions, and work together to keep the rubber bands away from pets. Yes, as parents ourselves, we understand how sometimes “kids don’t listen,” and the frustrating degree of eyeroll our constant “nagging” can cause. But, honestly, I’d rather nag and endure the eye-rolls then have to explain that their best friend may not make it through surgery.
7. Watch Your Pet’s Poop! Yes, this sounds disgusting, but the person responsible for picking up the yard or cleaning the litter box needs to be extra vigilant in ensure there are no rubber bands in a pet’s poop. We recommend that an adult do this, or ensure that any minors who may be responsible for poop patrol know that they need to inform an adult immediately if they see rubber bands in a pet’s poop.
8. If your pet is experiencing any vomiting or diarrhea, suddenly loses interest in treats or food, cannot seem to hold down food or water, and seems lethargic or listless, schedule an examination right away! Vomiting and diarrhea are usually the first symptoms of any gastrointestinal problems, and you should not wait to see if “it will pass” because if your pet has indeed eaten anything they aren’t suppose to (and we’re not limiting it to rubber bands this time), waiting may allow the situation to get worst.
We can’t wait to see the creations the minds of our young friends can make. With these precautions we hope that Rainbow Looms can bring out the creative side of your family. Again, we are not banning Rainbow Looms from our lobby, we just please ask that you double-check your surroundings to ensure that all rubber bands are picked up so they cannot pose a danger to other patients. We pride ourselves in being a kid-friendly veterinary hospital, and hope with your cooperation to remain that way.
Call 631-696-2400 to schedule your pet’s examination, for whatever their veterinary needs.