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My Dog Ate a Diaper! Here’s What to Do (Vet Answer)

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By Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

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Dr. Joanna Woodnutt

BVM BVS (Veterinarian)

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Bringing your newborn home for the first time is very exciting. However, among the smiles and cuddles, there are late nights, early mornings, and an extensive new kit to learn how to navigate. Suddenly, you have to figure out how to open baby food jars, how to assemble a playpen, how to install a car seat, and how to change a diaper. With all this commotion, it is easy for a mischievous mutt to slip out of sight and get into trouble.

During this time, he may decide to raid the baby’s room and take a diaper as a snack!Divider 8

My Dog Ate a Diaper!

If your dog swallows a diaper or part of a diaper, it is absolutely a veterinary emergency. Don’t hesitate to get your four-legged friend into the car and take him to the closest clinic. Both cloth diapers and disposable diapers have the potential to get stuck somewhere along the digestive tract and cause health problems. Your dog might appear to be fine immediately after the fact, but it could take hours or days for the symptoms of the blockage to manifest.

It’s best to act as soon as you can. Disposable diapers, themselves, are particularly dangerous if swallowed because of how they are designed.

Why Are Diapers Dangerous to Dogs?

Disposable diapers are made up of a fluid-absorbent material held between a waterproof layer on the outside and a soft inner layer. Each of these layers is indigestible and can cause complications when eaten, but the super-absorbent filling itself carries a few more risks. When ingested, this material can draw important fluids away from the body and cause severe dehydration. Aside from that, it can expand to many times its original size, forming a gel, which can cause a tight blockage in the intestine.

Some intestinal blockages can only be treated with surgery, so it’s best to get your dog to a vet as soon as you notice that any part of a disposable diaper was swallowed.Divider 1

What to Do if Your Dog Ate a Diaper

The most important thing in this situation is to remain calm and follow our instructions to find the best solution for your pet.

1. Prevent further access.

Whether your dog tore one up or opened the whole bag, the first thing to do is to make sure they can’t eat any more. Shut them in another room whilst you clean up the mess so that any other pets aren’t in danger.

2. Call your veterinarian.

Your veterinarian is always the best person to call for advice. If your usual vet isn’t open, call their emergency service, or, failing that, the nearest open veterinary clinic. You’ll need to tell them the breed and recent weight of your dog as well as how much diaper is missing.

3. Follow your vet’s instructions.

It’s likely that your vet will ask you to come down for a visit unless your dog is very large and the piece eaten is very small. As discussed, even small pieces can swell when they absorb water, making them much more dangerous than they appear. Your vet will discuss the best course of action with you, which will likely be to attempt the removal of the diaper before it causes damage.

4. Don’t wait to act.

Depending on your vet’s equipment, they may be able to remove the diaper with a flexible camera rather than surgery, but only if you seek help immediately. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the diaper will damage the gut. Making your dog sick at home might seem like a good idea, but if the diaper has absorbed stomach acid it can get stuck in the esophagus, where it is much more difficult, dangerous, and expensive to remove.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Dog Diaper Dilemma

No matter the situation, your veterinarian will be able to determine the best way to proceed.

They will need to know:
  • What type of diaper was consumed?
  • How much was ingested?
  • When the diaper-eating incident took place?

It is a good idea to have an unused diaper on-hand so that the veterinarian can determine the best course of action. Their emergency plan may include getting X-ray scans of the digestive tract to see where foreign materials might have gotten stuck or to induce vomiting if the ingested materials haven’t yet passed further than the stomach.

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My Large-Breed Dog Ate Only a Bit of a Diaper and He Seems Fine. Do I Still Need to Worry?

Absolutely! Whether it was a large or small dog that ate a whole diaper or part of a diaper, veterinary advice should be sought. Especially when it comes to disposable diapers, only a small bit of the super-absorbent layer needs to be consumed to result in a deadly situation. In fact, large dogs may be at more risk than smaller dogs as they will be capable of swallowing a bigger chunk of a diaper or a whole diaper at once!

Don’t let a cheerful demeanor fool you, it is possible for a dog to go downhill very quickly after ingesting something it shouldn’t have. You will want to be at the vet clinic before your pal is showing the signs of discomfort associated with dietary indiscretion.

small Yorkshire terrier sleeping on the white diaper_metha1819_shutterstock
Image Credit: metha1819, Shutterstock

Is the Gel in Diapers Toxic to Dogs?

The gel in nappies isn’t known to be toxic to dogs. The gel is usually made from silica, an amazing chemical that can absorb up to 100 times its weight in moisture. Silica isn’t digested by your dog and isn’t toxic—but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. As mentioned above, toxicity isn’t the only concern with eating things, blockages and dehydration are far more of a concern.

Why Would a Dog Eat a Diaper in the First Place?

There are many reasons that dogs will chew on or eat inedible substances. Particularly in the situation when there is suddenly a new baby sharing the household, your furry pal may not be getting the same level of attention he is used to. All that pent-up energy may end up being directed toward other naughty pursuits. The sudden arrival of so many new items that come with a baby will also pique the curiosity of many dogs. All those enticing new scents and textures are irresistible to an inquisitive pup who explores using his nose and mouth.

What if My Dog Ate a Used Diaper?

Anyone with a trail-hiking dog will be able to tell you about a dog’s inexplicable attraction to poop left by an animal. Dogs will sniff it, run in it, roll in it, and yes, even eat it. Whether it’s waste from the outdoors or waste from a diaper pail, it will all be the same for your dog. It has been documented that wild dogs will even seek out human waste as part of their diet (yuck!) and some scientists think that this behavior has contributed to their domestication.

Regardless of the reason why your dog has eaten baby poop, if your dog has had an unsavory snack from the diaper disposal you should let your veterinarian know. Dogs can get sick from eating baby poop. Health upsets can be caused by bacteria in your baby’s stool, and any diaper rash creams or ointments that were used. The good news is that it’s unlikely that these will cause serious harm when ingested in the small amounts found in a baby’s diaper. Still, you should have the products you use on-hand so your vet can evaluate their toxicity risk.

You may be advised to continue monitoring your dog closely for signs of a digestive upset even after any swallowed diaper hazard has been removed.Divider 5

Dog-proof Your Diapers!

Nobody ever wants to end up at the emergency veterinary clinic, especially because of an easily preventable health crisis. When it comes to avoiding a diaper-related disaster, ensure that any diapers in the household are locked away in dog-proof areas or receptacles. Even if you don’t have a baby, you might have adult diapers, pet diapers, or diaper pads which should be kept well out of reach of your pooch.

Of course, don’t forget to lock down any receptacles used for disposal as well.

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Featured Image Credit: Anastasiya Kargapolova, Shutterstock

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