What To Do If My Dog Ate A Diaper

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.

My Dog Ate A Diaper

Why Do Dogs Eat Diapers?

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.

The last possible characteristic of diapers that dogs may enjoy is the strange texture.

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.

Should I Worry If My Dog Ate A Diaper?

If you think your dog just ate a diaper of any kind, it’s time to contact your veterinarian.

Diaper consumption in dogs may just seem like a gross interest for some canine friends, but it is much more than a disgusting habit.

Diapers pose a serious health risk to the curious dogs in our life.

Diapers ranging from human diapers to dog diapers are made of material that our dog’s cannot digest, leading to an array of serious complications if your dog happens to consume one.

If your dog dives into a diaper of any kind, it’s time to reach out to your vet immediately for further guidance.

Why Is It Dangerous For Dogs To Eat Diapers?

The main purpose of a diaper is what makes them so dangerous when they enter a dog’s digestive tract.

Diapers are created to absorb the fluid they come in contact with, as well as storing waste when needed.

This means that diaper material can expand when introduced to fluid in the GI tract, as well as introduce harmful bacteria to the body if the diaper is used.

The most concerning complication that can occur when a dog eats a diaper is the potential for intestinal obstruction. Our dogs are unable to digest the material in diapers, causing the material to remain intact as it travels through the intestines.

Not only can this material remain intact, but it can also expand when introduced to the contents in the GI tract.

This can lead to a life threatening obstruction, requiring emergency surgery to resolve.

Not only can the absorbent layers of the diaper cause a life-threatening blockage in the intestines, but it can also dehydrate the GI tract of any essential fluids that are present.

Diapers are designed to wick moisture, and they can do exactly that when they travel through the GI tract.

Diaper material may begin to absorb any stomach or intestinal fluid it comes in contact with, making it even more challenging for the digestive system to do its job.

If your pup escapes the threat of intestinal obstruction, they can still develop a serious case of GI upset due to the bacteria present in the diaper.

The contents of a used diaper is what makes it so tempting to our furry friends, but it is also packed with potential danger.

Whether the diaper is soiled with human or animal wastes, diaper consumption can lead to a shift in healthy bacterial flora in the gut.

Immediate Action Is Important

If your dog consumes any form of diaper, your first instinct may be to wait it out and see if any complications arise later.

Though your pup may seem just fine in the hours after eating the diaper, this can be extremely risky. Most complications from diaper consumption do not develop until 24-72 hours after consumption, and at this point they are more complicated to treat.

If pieces of the diaper create a blockage in your dog’s intestines, it can take up to 72 hours for obvious symptoms to develop.

The intestines can become inflamed or damaged during this time frame, leading to even more potential complications as you attempt to treat the issue.

We know it’s not always possible for you to know exactly when your dog eats a diaper, but there is often some evidence left behind when it occurs.

Even if you are unsure of whether or not your pup really did this, it’s best to reach out to your vet immediately just in case.

Signs Of Complications From Dogs Eating Diapers

Whether you are waiting for any signs of complications or are unaware that your dog ate the diaper originally, there are a few standard symptoms to be aware of.

These symptoms can vary based on how much of the diaper was consumed, but typically lead to standard signs of GI upset or obstruction.

Signs of complications in dogs due to eating diapers include:

  • Vomiting
  • Anorexia or decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty passing stool
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased gas

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, it’s best to contact your veterinarian for further advice.

What To Expect At The Vet

When you bring your pup to the vet for eating a diaper, there are a few things you can typically expect in terms of the physical exam process and potential diagnostics.

This will often vary based on how long ago your dog consumed the diaper, and whether or not they have developed symptoms.

To help you have an idea of what to expect, let’s break it down.

Questions You May Be Asked

The best way to determine the most effective treatment plan for your pup is through thorough questioning.

Treatment can vary greatly based on the answers to the following questions, so you can expect your vet to pick your brain on the following topics.

  • How long ago did your dog eat the diaper?
  • Was the diaper used or soiled?
  • What type of diaper was it? Baby diaper, adult diaper, cloth diaper, etc.
  • How big was the diaper?
  • How much of the diaper was eaten? Did they tear apart the diaper or eat it whole?
  • Has your dog developed any symptoms of obstruction? Vomiting, anorexia, etc.

Once your vet asks these questions, they can better determine the best plan of action going forward.

Diagnostics Performed On A Dog That Ate A Diaper

If your dog eats a diaper, there are a few diagnostics that can help your vet paint an accurate picture of their current situation.

While this will vary based on how long ago your dog ate the diaper, let’s discuss a few options.

Oral Exam

Sometimes shreds of the diaper can be trapped in your dog’s mouth or throat, so your vet will likely perform an oral exam to rule this out.

Rectal Exam

If your dog ate the diaper longer than 24 hours ago, your vet may perform a rectal exam to see if they can feel any obstructions toward the end of their colon. This is even more likely if your dog is having any difficulty passing stool.

X-ray

While diaper material may not be visible on x-ray, it can show any evidence of obstructive patterns or potential blockages.

This can help your vet visualize the potential blockage, monitor its movements, or determine whether or not surgery is recommended.

Ultrasound

Ultrasound is another way to search for any evidence of obstruction throughout the GI tract.

This can be even more indicative of obstruction in some cases, as the material can be so challenging to see evidence of on x-ray in some cases.

Endoscopy

If your vet believes the diaper is in your dog’s stomach, they can use an endoscope to visualize it.

This involves your dog being sedated, moving the endoscope down their throat and into the stomach, and taking images of the stomach.

Treatment For A Dog That Ate A Diaper

Just as diagnostic options will vary from case to case, so will your dog’s treatment plan. After performing whichever diagnostic your vet deems necessary, they can choose the best treatment route for your pup.

To help you go into this situation as prepared as possible, let’s list a few of the most common treatments for dogs that eat diapers.

Inducing Vomiting

If your dog just ate the diaper within the last 4 hours, your vet may be able to induce vomiting to expel the diaper from the stomach.

This is always the best case scenario, as this can stop the diaper material from moving past the stomach. If this is the case and your pup vomits up the entirety of the diaper, this should be the only treatment they need.

Strict Monitoring

If the diaper material has already moved past the stomach and surgery is not yet suggested, your vet may suggest monitoring your dog closely over the next 48 hours.

This can mean keeping them in hospital on IV fluids and rechecking x-rays every 12 hours, or sending them home with laxatives to help the material pass on its own. This is only an option if the diaper material has a high likelihood of passing on its own, or if the material is already far down in the GI tract.

Endoscope Removal

If any diaper material is trapped in your dog’s stomach and it cannot be expelled through vomiting, your vet may be able to remove the material with an endoscope procedure.

This can either be performed at your vet’s office if they have an endoscopy on site, or your dog may have to be sent to a referral center.

Foreign Body Surgery

If the diaper has led to an obstruction in the GI tract and cannot pass on its own, your vet may need to perform surgery.

This surgery may involve removing the diaper material, removing any damaged portions of the intestines, and tending to any complications they see along the way. This often requires 24-48 hours in hospital after the surgery as well.

Every situation will vary, so it’s best to trust your vet’s advice and guidance throughout the treatment process.

Things To Remember When Your Dog Eats A Diaper

Now that we’ve discussed the ins and outs of dogs eating diapers, there are a few important messages to take away from this article.

  • Always act immediately once you discover that your dog ate the diaper. Waiting for any sign of complication is risky. Even if you think your dog’s situation is the exception, it is always best to be safe.
  • It does not matter which type of diaper your dog ate, as they are all potentially dangerous. Seeking vet care is essential for baby diapers, dog diapers, adult diapers, cloth diapers, and more.
  • If your dog does eat a diaper, try your best to paint a clear picture of what happened. Think about how big the diaper was, how long ago your dog ate it, whether or not the diaper was used, etc. This will help your vet determine the best plan of action going forward.
  • Always follow your vet’s instructions if your dog ate a diaper. When dealing with the potential for obstruction, you never want to act without guidance.

As you can see, diaper consumption is a serious issue in our canine friends.

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