Did your dog eat something they shouldn’t have? Well, you’re not alone! Dogs commonly get into things they shouldn’t when they’re bored or smell something tasty. Read on to learn what to do when your dog eats common household items and how to best prepare for an emergency.
Dogs navigate through the world with their noses and mouths, which means they can get into all sorts of things when we aren’t looking. If your dog swallowed something they shouldn’t have, they may show symptoms like:¹
- Refusing to eat
- Hunching or bowing
Keep in mind that some of these symptoms take a few days to develop while some become apparent immediately. The onset of symptoms often depends on factors like what your pet ate and how much of it they ate, as well as your pet’s size.
Pet parents should prepare a first aid kit specifically for their dogs in the event of an emergency.² Be sure to include the number for your nearest emergency clinic and the Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in the kit so you know who to call and where to go during an emergency. Along with items for wound care, a first aid kit should also include hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting if your dog swallowed something toxic or obstructive.
Consider taking first aid courses specifically for dogs. These courses can teach you how to safely perform life-saving measures like removing objects from your dog’s throat.
Modern medicine has afforded humans a wonderful change in lifestyle but they can pose a risk to our dogs. About ¼ of phone calls to APCC are about human medications that have been accidentally ingested by pets.³
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) offers simple guidelines to keep your pets out of harm's way when it comes to medicine they shouldn’t consume. Here are some helpful tips regarding pets and human medication:³
- Don’t leave pills and pill bottles sitting on the counter or any place your pet can get to easily.
- Pick up dropped pills off the floor immediately.
- Always call your vet after your pet has consumed medications that aren’t prescribed to them.
- Never give your pet medication without explicit permission from your vet.
Even if you follow these tips strictly, accidents can still happen. Let’s discuss the most common medications dogs tend to eat and what to do about it.
Ibuprofen is a common pain medication. Many brands (e.g. Advil®, Motrin®, etc.) cover the pills in a sweet, sugary coating that can be appealing to dogs.³ Ibuprofen, if ingested in large amounts, can cause stomach ulcers and kidney failure.³
If you suspect your dog ate ibuprofen, it’s highly recommended to call the APCC hotline for guidance. Make sure to have the pill bottle in hand so that you can tell the representative the specific brand, the dosage of the medication, and an estimate of how much ibuprofen your dog may have consumed. Next, it’s best to call your veterinarian to get your dog into their office for a thorough exam.
Similar to ibuprofen, Tylenol® (commonly known as acetaminophen) and Aleve® (Naproxen) are common in households because it’s an effective fever reducer and pain reliever. Sadly, both of these over-the-counter medications can cause liver damage, stomach ulcers, and kidney failure.³ Acetaminophen can also attack your dog’s red blood cells, making it difficult for their blood to carry oxygen.³
Don’t hesitate to take your dog to an emergency clinic if you suspect your dog ate Tylenol®.³ You’ll need to take the pill bottle with you so you can give the care team all the information they need to take care of your dog.
There are a lot of prescription medications that may be laying around your home. Dogs commonly eat prescriptions that are sitting on our nightstands that pet parents leave out so they don’t forget to take them before bed.³ Medications that people take for depression, anxiety, pain, and other illnesses don’t affect dogs the way they affect people. In fact, these medications often cause dogs to become disoriented, agitated, and lethargic. In extreme cases, certain medications can lead to seizures and organ failure.³
Take extra precautions with your prescription medications. Try not to leave them in areas that are easily accessible to your dog, like counter tops and coffee tables. Opt for a secure cabinet or high-to-reach place instead.
If your dog eats your medication, it’s best to call the APCC then make sure that you bring the prescription bottles with you to the emergency clinic.
Plastic is found in many household items, including cups, remotes, and even our pet’s toys. Any amount of plastic your dog eats should be treated as an emergency. The plastic can easily puncture your pet’s gastrointestinal tract, leading to life threatening internal bleeding and costly emergency vet bills. If you suspect your dog has eaten plastic, it’s recommended to take your pup to the emergency clinic so that a vet can perform an ultrasound and take X-rays to locate a foreign object.
Depending on the size of the swallowed plastic object, surgery may be required to prevent further damage to your pet’s internal organs. In other cases, your vet may be able to induce vomiting to remove the plastic.
Our bathrooms are home to dozens of seemingly harmless, everyday items that our dogs may get too curious about. From toilet paper rolls to our toothbrushes, a bored dog will take to chewing all sorts of things if they make their way into the bathroom.
The best course of action is to try your best to keep your dog out of the bathroom, especially unsupervised. Keep your counters free of objects that can easily be swallowed. If you own a large dog that can easily climb counters, you may want to invest in training classes to teach them basic commands like “leave it” and “come” to protect your dog from hazardous objects.
But things happen to even the most attentive pet parents, so here’s what you need to know about common things dogs swallow in our bathrooms.
If your dog ate a tampon or pad, they’re at risk of choking or intestinal blockages. You should treat this sort of incident as an emergency and contact your emergency vet as soon as possible.
While time is of the essence in emergency situations like choking, don’t attempt first aid, like removing a tampon from your dog’s throat. Even if you can see the string, you may damage their esophagus or risk hurting yourself in the process. It’s best to let veterinary professionals handle removing obstructions if you’re within a close distance from the clinic.
According to the AVMA, pets that ingest soaps, bath bombs, and toothpaste could show symptoms of upset stomachs such as vomit and diarrhea.⁴ If your dog ate soap, you should take the soap away from them immediately.
Try your best to rinse the soap out of their mouth with water. It’s strongly advised to call your vet for guidance; they may have you bring your dog in if they are throwing up or simply monitor your pet if they aren’t showing any symptoms. Either way, keep an eye on your pet in case they show signs of distress.
For pets, products like bleach and all-purpose cleaning sprays can cause:⁴
- Upset stomach
- Severe burns if swallowed
- Respiratory tract irritation if inhaled in high concentrations
Keep your pets away from cleaning products by securing the cabinets they’re stored in and, if they happen to consume a cleaning product, read the labels of household cleaners carefully. Some of these products require that pets and kids be kept away from the area you’ve cleaned until it's dry to prevent health risks.
If your dog inhaled or ingested cleaning products, it’s advised to contact the APCC immediately for guidance on how to take care of your pet. They may ask you to induce vomiting with hydrogen peroxide, activated charcoal, or milk of magnesia. In other cases, the APCC representative may advise you to go straight to the emergency clinic. Regardless, acting quickly is key to ensuring your pet stays safe.
A bored dog can be a naughty dog, especially if they turn our clothes into their latest chew toy. Dogs that eat socks and underwear are at risk of a litany of gastrointestinal issues like bloating and bowel obstructions.
Sometimes, dogs pass small pieces of fabric through their intestines, so you can watch them to see if they poop it out. Other times your dog may show signs of distress – like whining or refusing to eat – that require immediate attention from a vet. Pet parents should play it safe by getting a vet involved once they’ve discovered their dog ate any piece of their clothes.