My Dog Ate Fabric: What Now? (Solved & Explained!)

Dogs love to chew. It starts at about 3 weeks of age, when a puppy begins teething and looking for relief, and it can become a lifelong habit that might even vex you from time to time. So, what happens if a dog ate fabric? Should you be concerned?

While there is a possibility that it will simply pass through your dog’s system within 12 to 24 hours, fabric ingestion has a lot of risks. First off, your dog might choke trying to get it down, but even if it gets to the stomach it becomes a hazard from any chemical treatments and then there’s possible intestinal blockage!

To put it simply, fabric-munching should be discouraged, as it can be lethal if your dog is old or unlucky. Today we’re going to take a closer look at what can happen so that you’ll know what to do if your dog eats fabric instead of simply chewing it. Let’s take a look!

What happens if a dog eats fabric?

As there are so many different types of fabric, we’ll have to be a bit general here, but it should give you a good mental image of the quandary. First off, your dog will chew the fabric first, so we’re talking about fabric bits or whole patches of fabric that first have to make it past your dog’s throat.

Your dog has elongated canine teeth along with the rest of their set, so the cloth can get caught up in the teeth, or simply lodge in the throat and become potentially life threatening as a choking hazard. Most dogs are deft chewers, however, and good at gulping their dinner down in record time, so let’s say they swallow it.

Now the fabric is going to move to the stomach, where any chemical treatments to the cloth will leech into your dog’s body, driving their liver to work overtime to process this, plus the fabric itself may be made of toxic material or hard to digest, such as with wool.

If the fabric passes to the intestines, then blockage is a possibility, but you also have to consider and threads that have been ripped out – like string, threads can lacerate the intestines – so now there’s a possibility of sepsis. Simply put, while it looks harmless and may indeed pass through, fabric-eating is actually quite a dangerous thing for your dog.

How long does it take a dog to digest fabric?

While it can happen as fast as 5 hours after ingestion, in most cases the fabric should pass within 12 to 24 hours, so you’ve got to keep a close eye on your dog and their bowel movements during this time. That said, with the possibility of intestinal laceration, it’s really best to get to the vet NOW.

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X-ray technology is vital in order to assess what is actually going on in your dog’s body right now. This is going to tell your vet whether the fabric has a good chance of simply passing through or if further action will be required to ensure that your little buddy (or adorably large buddy) is going to be okay.

You’ll want to bring what’s left of the fabric that didn’t get swallowed if you have it, as identifying the digested material is going to be very important, though if your dog ate all of it then you’ll just have to describe the product as best as you can.

With a little luck, the fabric is simply going to pass, but it’s very important to get your vet involved as soon as you become aware of the issue. That way you can be sure, because there’s quite a lot that can go wrong in a scenario such as this.

How can you tell if a dog has a blockage?

If your dog ate fabric, it’s useful to know what symptoms to look for, as often our sneaky pooches do this sort of thing when we’re away or with the bolder dogs, right under our noses when we’re watching a favorite show. Here are some symptoms of intestinal blockage that can help:

  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Lethargy/weakess
  • Diarrhea
  • Constant straining when pooping – often with no visible results

If you see any of these systems, it’s best to go ahead and get your dog to the vet or at least to give them a call for the recommended next steps. If you can’t reach them, try the ASPCA Poison control line at 888-426-4435 and they can also help.

Their staff is available to you free of change and 24 hours a day, every day, including holidays. Write the number down and put it somewhere that you can always find it – it can be a lifesaver.

How do I get my dog to pass a sock?

While vets often recommend a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide to encourage your dog to vomit up something poisonous, this is not something that you want to do with ingested fabric unless a vet or poison control specialist specifically tells you to do it.

While your dog might vomit, you have to remember that cloth and strings are involved, and they could end up blocking the throat or get caught in the teeth and then you’ve got a choking hazard that’s potentially lethal.

This is another area where you really want a vet. Sometimes they can hook the sock or other fabric with an endoscope and with a light touch, extract the offending item to get it out right away. Plus, with X-ray vision, they’ll have an edge that you won’t unless you happen to be one of Superman’s relatives.

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There’s not really much that you can do other than wait, if the vet isn’t involved, so be sure to at least call them for recommended steps or simply take them directly to the vet to get the fabric taken care of. It’s the safest and most practical way to get your dog back to good health and safety.

Some final words on fabrics and dogs

While it seems innocuous, given all the things that dogs seem to safely eat (often to our horror or chagrin), fabric ingestion is definitely a serious matter. If you see any systems or even suspect that your dog may have gotten into and eaten a sock or other bit of fabric, then get them to the vet immediately.

Your furry friend will thank you and with a little luck, you’ll be chasing them to get your shoes back in no time flat!