Imagine, you’ve just finished a load of laundry, it smells good and feels so soft. You place it down ready to put away, then your attention is elsewhere for just a second, when you come back…one of two dryer sheets are gone, and the dog is in the corner of the room chewing.
For many of us, our pets are like our babies. We feed them, clean up after them, love and nurture them. We are there for them in the good times and the bad because we are all they have. And (for most pets) they love us back just as much, or even more. So, what happens when your furbaby eats the dryer sheet? First of all, don’t panic! If you panic, then the dog gets stressed and it could make things worse for the pup.
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Why would my dog want to eat a dryer sheet in the first place?
Well, there could be many reasons. After all, even fully grown dogs have the intelligence equivalent to a 3–4-year-old human child. Even then, most dogs aren’t that bright. Dogs are always eating things they shouldn’t be. If you leave anything lying about, you can guarantee the dog will at least attempt to take a bite out of it, even when it’s not food. Most of the time, they are sneaky, and we don’t catch them in the act.
Somehow, it’s almost always after the fact that we realise what they’ve done, and we get those guilty eyes when we confront them. Younger dogs, typically puppies, just don’t know the difference in toys and dangerously toxic objects. They are most likely trying to steal your socks from the laundry pile but made the mistake of getting their paws on the toxic dryer sheet. However, it could also be a sign of boredom.
When left alone for long periods of time, dogs can get up to all sorts of mischief and chew on anything they can get their teeth on. Another reason dogs would eat a dryer sheet is the simple fact that dogs love fabrics. And the fabric softener is designed to have the strong scents to make our clothes smell nice and enticing.
How sick can my dog get from eating a dryer sheet?
Eating a dryer sheet is a very serious matter. It could cause various illnesses and even death. Dryer sheets contain fragrances and chemicals that soften our clothes and reduce static, great for us, not so great for the poor pooch that decided the sheet was going to be his next snack.
These chemicals cause skin irritation and respiratory stress for our pets and ingest could cause even more distress on their insides. Fabric softeners can cause illnesses not so different to alkaline toxicity. The effects can range from mouth ulcers to seizures. The respiratory effects have also been liked to that of asthma and cancer. But there are other worse case scenarios such as:
- Lung damage
- Muscle weakness
- Fluid in the lungs
- Acute kidney disease
- CNS depression
All in all, there are two main threats to dogs that have ingested a dryer sheet. Firstly, the dryer sheet material itself could cause a blockage in the GI tract that could lead to the illnesses mentioned and even death. Many of these obstructions will have to be surgically removed, which will pose more of a threat to the dog’s overall health.
Secondly, the fabric softener does not only irritate the dog’s skin on the outside, but it can also cause irritation to mucous membranes and the stomach lining. These are the chemicals that can lead to lung damage, nervous system depression and acute kidney disease.
What should I do if my dogs eats the dryer sheet?
As mentioned earlier, don’t panic. You don’t want to stress the dog out. Make sure your dog has plenty of clean fresh water to prevent dehydration. It should take 48-72 hours for it to pass through the digestive system, if it doesn’t get stuck and cause obstruction along the way. Keep a close eye on your dog and check for any symptoms.
Symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhoea can be managed at home with a bland diet of chicken and rice. If the symptoms continue and the dryer sheet hasn’t passed, go see your vet.
If you suspect that your dog has eaten the dryer sheet and are unaware of the timeframe from when it ate the dryer sheet, DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING! It can cause even more damage that has already been done since it exposes the stomach, throat and esophagus to the chemicals all over again.
However, if the sheet was very recently eaten, it may be best to induce vomiting. There is a 2 hour window after your dog eats any foreign body before it passes through the gut. Inducing vomiting will bring up the sheet before the body has a chance to absorb the toxic chemicals. If the dog vomits up the sheet, keep an eye on them for a few days for any signs that the poison was absorbed.
But, if your dog is in worse condition and the sheet hasn’t exited the body at either end, then you will need to take the dog to the vet. It would be best to take the packaging of the dryer sheet with you so that the vet can check the ingredients for the toxics being absorbed by your dogs’ insides.
The more information they have, the better and faster they can help your furbaby. If the dog has unfortunately got an obstruction, the vet will want to take an x-ray of the intestine contents to see what is going on in there. After this, it is highly likely that your pup will need surgery to remove the obstruction, which has great risk in itself. But the chances are the vet will remove the sheet, and after a few days observation at the clinic, your pooch will be ready to go home.
It’s important to note that if you know or suspect your dog has eaten a dryer sheet and leave it untreated, then your dog will suffer the severe consequences of your decision. Obstructions and poisonous chemicals are extremely fatal if not treated by a vet.
As much as we love our little bundles of fur, they are always going to get into things they shouldn’t. That’s why you should always keep an eye on them, make sure they get plenty of food and exercise. Even if you can’t be in the house all the time, try to give them as many stimulating toys as possible so they don’t get bored and decide to get into trouble. We all love our pets and want them to be happy and healthy.