If your canine companion just ate a diaper, there are probably a few questions racing through your mind.
You may be wondering why they would do this in the first place, whether or not eating a diaper is dangerous, and if you need to seek help from your veterinarian.
In this article we will help you better understand the complications that can arise when your pup eats a diaper, and how to best handle this issue once it occurs.
Just like many other odd canine behaviors, we don’t fully understand why dogs choose to eat diapers. Some dogs enjoy rolling in the remains of dead animals and digging through the trash, so this may be just one more strange canine pastime to add to the list.
No matter how gross it may seem to us, there are a few characteristics that may attract a dog to a fresh diaper.
Though the smell of a diaper may be revolting to us, it could be extremely tempting for our canine friends.
A dirty diaper may smell of undigested food material, leading a dog to believe it could be a perfect food source.
Some dogs enjoy eating cat poop, so human poop may be no different. Gross, I know.
Another thing to keep in mind is the fact that so many dogs are truly curious about the world around them.
Something with a new and exciting smell or texture may be interesting to your pup, causing them to dive in and see what it’s all about.
Even if they don’t particularly enjoy the experience, it could be a fun way for them to scavenge.
Dogs are known to chew on items ranging from shoes to furniture legs, and a diaper may be no different.
A diaper could offer a dog plenty of chewing entertainment, leading some dogs to consume pieces of the diaper along the way.
Why diapers are dangerous to dogs
Diapers contain absorbent material that expands when it comes into contact with liquid. If your dog swallows a diaper, that material will absorb stomach acid, water, and other fluids in the digestive tract. Your pup can become seriously dehydrated or encounter intestinal problems, but that’s not even the worst part.
If the absorbent material increases in size, it can cause internal injuries or block your dog’s digestive tract. Even partial obstructions can be fatal, and some blockages are only treatable by surgery.
Needless to say, any diaper-eating incident should be taken seriously and attended to right away. The same warning applies to other products with absorbent layers. That includes adult diapers, dog diapers, and tampons. And while cloth diapers do not have an absorbent filling, they can still cause blockages as well as abrasions to your pup’s throat or intestines.
An unused diaper is one thing, but a dirty diaper presents a couple more causes for concern, albeit slightly less worrisome. Your dog can become sick from ingesting baby poop, which, like all human poop, contains bacteria. This may cause your canine companion to vomit or have diarrhea.
Your vet may put them on antibiotics if they get a bacterial infection from the poop. Additionally, diaper rash creams contain zinc, which can be toxic to dogs. But unless your pup ingested a large amount of the cream, you probably don’t need to worry, but do tell your vet so that they can determine the toxicity risk.
From eating their own vomit to rolling around in dead things, our canine family members do plenty of things that leave us scratching our heads. So why would your dog eat a diaper? Here are some possible explanations:
Fortunately, it’s not too common for dogs to dine on diapers, but when it happens, there are steps you can take.
When Your Dog Eats a Diaper: Take Immediate Action
If you notice or suspect that your dog has eaten a diaper (in whole or in part), you’ll want to call your vet immediately.
Diapers represent a number of potential dangers, and prompt veterinary attention is imperative for giving your dog the best chance at a full recovery.
Your vet may recommend that you encourage your dog to vomit by administering a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water. However, vomiting can occasionally make things worse, so don’t force your dog to vomit until you speak with your vet first (this also goes for anytime your dog eats anything dangerous or toxic).
In some cases, your vet may recommend that you bring your dog in for immediate treatment. Your vet may want to make your dog throw up or perform a procedure called a gastric lavage to “wash out” your pet’s stomach.
But it is also possible that your vet will just encourage you to observe your dog and act accordingly.
If you cannot reach your vet for some reason, you can try calling the Pet Poison Helpline instead (fees will apply). Alternatively, you can try using JustAnswer’s Vet Services. This will give you the chance to chat with a staff veterinarian (and share photos or video), who can help you figure out your next steps.
Note that you should just load your dog in the car and drive directly to the closest vet or veterinary hospital if your dog looks like he is having trouble breathing, appears panicked, or loses consciousness.
Do Diapers Represent Any Other Dangers For Dogs?
The absorbent material contained inside diapers represents the most serious health threat to your dog, but there are a few other ways diapers can cause problems too.
For example, the adhesive closures attached to most diapers can also become stuck in your dog’s digestive tract. They could also become stuck to your dog’s fur, although this is usually not a terribly serious problem (a little soap and warm water should help you pull the closure free).
Another potential problem is the poop itself.
Human feces is full of bacteria (it is more than half bacteria by weight, once you remove the water), and this includes some that may make your dog sick. Adult dogs have pretty robust immune systems, so this isn’t likely to make your dog seriously ill, but it may cause vomiting, diarrhea and other symptoms.
However, some dogs may require antibiotics to help clear any bacterial infection they contract from the poop.
Should I induce vomiting if my dog ate a diaper?
Are diapers toxic if ingested?