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My Dog Ate a Bar of Soap: Our Vet Explains What To Do

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By Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

Retriever Dog in Veterinarian

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Written by

Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

BVM BVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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As pet parents, we know that dogs like to eat all sorts of weird and wonderful things! One of the many things around the house that a dog may be tempted by, believe it or not, are bars of soap! We like our soap to smell good. Unfortunately, this sweet smell is exactly what will attract our canine friends. So, in case this happens to you, here’s what to expect and what to do.

If your dog ate a bar of soap, remove any leftover from your dog’s reach. If you can do so safely, take any pieces left out of your dog’s mouth. Then call your veterinarian, a local clinic, or a pet poison hotline and follow their advice. Keep reading to learn more about your dog and soap!

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Is Soap Poisonous to Dogs?

A large proportion of soap bars are made from natural ingredients that aren’t poisonous to dogs. Nonetheless, if ingested, they may still cause them to have a tummy ache. However, some soaps do contain toxic ingredients. For example, some soap bars contain essential oils, such as tea tree oil and pine oil, which are poisonous to dogs. Some soaps also contain lye, an alkali substance called sodium hydroxide. Lye soaps can be dangerous to your pet.

You also need to consider that if your dog ate a large piece of a soap bar, or your dog ate a whole soap bar, then this may cause a blockage.

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Image Credit: Korneeva Kristina, Shutterstock

Will Eating Soap Hurt a Dog?

This will depend on the type of soap and how much your dog ate. If your dog ate a little bit of a natural soap bar—without lye or any other toxic ingredients—then symptoms could range from no symptoms at all to being off their food, drooling more than usual, vomiting, diarrhea, and a tummy ache.

If your dog ate a soap bar with lye, then it may show symptoms caused by the alkaline properties of the lye. The severity of these symptoms will depend on:

  • The concentration of lye in the soap
  • The amount your dog ingested
  • The weight of your fur baby and the sensitivity of their digestive system

Symptoms could include drooling, pawing at their face, vomiting, and tummy ache. This is because alkaline substances have a corrosive effect.

If your dog ate a soap bar containing essential oils, then the severity of symptoms will depend on the same factors, as well as which essential oil is present. For example, tea tree oil can cause vomiting, drooling, hypothermia (low body temperature), a wobbly gait, and depression. Pine oil is often used in soaps for its antibacterial properties. If enough is ingested, it can cause irritation of your dog’s digestive tract leading to lots of saliva, vomiting (with or without blood), a wobbly gait, and weakness, and can potentially damage their liver and kidneys.

golden retriever bathtime
Image credit: MPH Photos, Shutterstock

Can a Dog Get Sick From Eating a Bar of Soap?

If your dog managed to eat a large chunk of a soap bar, or indeed, swallow it whole, the bar could get stuck in your dog’s stomach or intestines and cause a blockage. The symptoms to watch for here include vomiting, anorexia, lethargy, and either diarrhea or a lack of stools.

My Dog Ate Soap – What Should I Do?

  • Remove any remaining soap from your dog’s reach.
  • If you are able to do so safely, then remove any soap that remains in their mouth and rinse their mouth with cool water. (Don’t do this if there is a risk that your dog may bite).
  • Call your veterinary clinic straight away for advice. If your clinic isn’t open, the Pet Poison Helpline or an emergency clinic will be able to give you advice.
  • Tell your veterinarian what your dog has eaten, when, how much they have eaten, and the ingredients if you have them. Letting your veterinarian know a rough weight for your dog will help too.
  • Follow the instructions you are given. This may be to monitor your dog, or it may be to visit the clinic.

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What Will Happen If My Dog Ate Soap?

You must always call your veterinarian for advice. Never attempt to make your dog sick at home. This can cause more damage to the esophagus as the offending object comes back up, especially if it contains an irritant (such as lye or essential oils). The soap bar may also get stuck on the way back up. Vomiting can pose a risk of aspiration (breathing in the vomit), which can be very dangerous. Always trust your veterinarian’s judgment as to whether making your dog vomit is a viable option. If it is, then your veterinarian will give your dog an injection and will monitor them throughout.

Depending on what type of soap bar and the amount your dog has eaten, your veterinarian may ask you to monitor your doggy at home. You’ll need to be looking out for:

  • Sickness
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at their face or neck
  • Anorexia
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness or a wobbly gait
  • Tummy ache (Your dog may turn and look at their tummy or adopt funny positions in an attempt to get comfortable. This often looks like your dog is praying: bottom in the air and nose to the ground.)
  • Diarrhea or alternatively no stools
  • Anything else specific to the ingredients in your soap (the vet will advise you on these)

If your dog develops any of these symptoms or exhibits any unusual behavior, then call your veterinary clinic right away.

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Image By: 825545, Pixabay

Your veterinarian may ask you to come straight to the clinic. Please follow their advice if they feel your dog needs to be seen, even if your dog appears to be well. Treatment may involve fluids and medicine to protect your dog’s stomach from further damage. Your veterinarian will monitor your dog closely for as long as they feel it is necessary, usually until any symptoms have resolved.

If your dog eats a large chunk of a soap bar, then your veterinarian may wish to take an X-ray or use an endoscope (a special camera that can look inside your dog’s stomach) to check if it is causing a blockage. If your dog is unlucky and your veterinarian suspects a blockage, then they will need surgery to remove the soap bar and to look for any damage.

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My Dog Ate Soap – Will They Be OK?

Generally, if your dog eats a little bit of a soap bar, it should make a full recovery. Is soap poisonous to dogs? Yes, but luckily, symptoms are often mild. However, this depends partly on the type and amount of soap eaten; and partly on your doggy. This is why it is important to call your veterinary clinic for advice regardless, as some dogs can react badly to even small amounts.

Remember, prompt action is important! The quicker you call your veterinary clinic, the quicker any treatment can be started if needed. And don’t forget to keep all toiletries and household cleaning products out of the reach of your curious pooch.

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