Your dog has a dirty little secret: he (or she) is obsessed with your most intimate personal items. To them, your used tampons, sanitary pads, condoms, and dirty underwear are like forbidden candy. But this habit is more than just gross and creepy, it can be downright life-threatening. If your dog ate a tampon or other personal care product, contact your veterinarian immediately!
What makes tampons and pads so dangerous?
Diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins, and toilet paper are designed to absorb liquids. When swallowed, they immediately begin to soak up the gastric juices in the digestive tract and swell in size and density. This robs the dog of vital fluids and puts them at risk for a life-threatening intestinal blockage. Unused and high absorbency tampons are especially dangerous.
Even the tiny string attached to a tampon can cause serious damage if it becomes tangled or tears away at the lining of the esophagus or intestines.
How about condoms and other personal items?
Items like condoms and menstrual cups are non-absorbent, but may still pose a threat. According to Dr. Claire Jenkins of the online veterinary consultation site, VetChat, it often comes down to size; both of the dog and the item.
“Any foreign object has the potential to be dangerous when eaten,” she writes. “Obviously it depends on the size of the object in comparison to your dog, so a condom might be okay to be passed by a full grown Labrador, but not, for example, a Chihuahua. While some objects go straight in one end and out the other, there’s also a chance of them getting stuck in the intestines and forming a blockage along the way.”
Why, oh why would a dog eat a tampon, pad or condom?
Before you label your pooch a perv, consider the reasons behind their nauseating behavior:
Dogs explore the world through their mouths and noses. When faced with a pungent odor, your dog can’t help but explore it. Check out this video to see just how powerful your dog’s nose really is.
They are scavengers by nature. Wild canines prefer live prey, but will also scavenge for carrion when necessary. To your dog’s powerful nose, discarded tampons, pads and condoms reek of decaying biologic material.
You are your dog’s favorite smell. Chances are your pooch loves to snuggle up on your discarded hoodie, especially if you just got home from the gym. To your dog, your unique aroma is the best smell on earth, and nothing carries your scent better than bodily fluids.
What should you do if your dog ate a tampon or condom?
Don’t panic. Your first instinct might be to freak out, not only because your dog might have eaten something dangerous, but because now you’ll have to have that awkward conversation with your vet about how many used tampons your dog has fished out of the bathroom trash can.
Contact your vet. Pups eat weird things all the time and then poop them out, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until your dog shows signs of illness. If you know your dog ate a tampon or other personal care product, call the animal hospital right away. Based on your dog’s size and what he or she ate, the staff can advise you on what to do. They may suggest X-rays and an exam, or have you monitor your pup’s appetite and bowel movements.
Know the symptoms and act accordingly. Dogs can be pretty sneaky, so there is a chance you may not catch them in the act. If your dog ate a tampon on the sly, you will need to recognize the signs of illness that accompany an intestinal blockage. These may include:
- Loss of appetite
- Pain in the abdomen
If your pup seems ill or you just cannot shake your anxiety, head to the vet. You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind!
Once the threat is neutralized…
Lock yo’ stuff away! Your pup might have pooped that tampon out this time, but you’d rather not go through that again. Intestinal blockage is no joke! Try keeping your products out of reach of any paws, or invest in those handy safety locks people use for childproofing. If your pup likes eating used sanitary products (cringe) get a trash can with a lid. Anything to keep your pup safe!
Crack all of the jokes. If your dog is safely tampon/sanitary napkin/condom free and you’ve made sure to take all the steps possible so that this never happens again, breath a sigh of relief and then go ahead and make lots of jokes. You’ve earned it!
Provide lots of stuff your dog CAN chew on.
If your dog ate a tampon or other personal care product he may be trying to tell you he’s bored. Even if your pooch has plenty of toys, he could be tired of the same old plushies and squeakers. Make sure you never get a text from home saying, “dog ate tampon” again. Expand his play-horizons with a monthly box of goodies from Bark!
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