Are Diapers Dangerous for Dogs? (Plus What To Do When Eaten!)


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So your dog got a hold of a baby diaper, shredded it to pieces all over the floor, and ingested who knows how much of it. There will probably be several panic-inducing questions going through your mind right now. Is it harmful to my dog? Should I call the vet?

Ingesting a diaper can be extremely dangerous for your dog because it can cause an intestinal blockage. If your dog eats a diaper, contact your vet as soon as possible. Once the immediate situation is resolved, make sure to store unused diapers out of reach of your dog and consider using a secure diaper pail for dirty diapers.

Keep reading to find out why diapers, both used and new, are so potentially harmful to your dog if swallowed. Learn about the symptoms of intestinal blockage in dogs and what to look for. Also, try some of the tips listed below to help keep diapers away from your furry companions.

Are diapers harmful to dogs?

Diapers are a great tool for parents. The more absorbent they are, the better they serve their purpose, except when your dog consumes one.

The same absorbent material (known as super absorbent polymers (SAPS) that helps keep your baby’s bottom and clothes dry is the same culprit that could potentially cause your dog to have an intestinal blockage. If you think about it, those super absorbent polymers are designed to absorb liquids and contain them.

Almost everyone has seen a baby with a super full diaper at some point which is a result of those magical polymers at work. The more liquid they come in contact with, the more they expand.

Now imagine the havoc those same materials could reek inside your dog’s water-containing intestines. This is why it’s critical to get an early call into your vet to see if any steps are needed to remove the ingested diaper particles from your dog before a blockage has a chance to even form in the first place.

While you may be tempted to induce vomiting in your dog, this is only something that should be done under the direct supervision of your veterinarian. In fact, there are several situations where this could cause even more harm.

Will eating a diaper kill my dog?

There is a cause for concern but don’t panic!

Eating a diaper could potentially cause life-threatening complications for your dog if you don’t seek immediate medical attention. The sooner corrective action can be taken, the better the chances of survival for your dog. Keep in mind, though, that your vet may just want you to keep a close eye on your pet and monitor them for symptoms or they may want you to go ahead and bring them in.

Some procedures your vet may perform on your dog can include abdominal x-rays and endoscopy, a non-surgical procedure that uses a camera on the end of a flexible tube to examine parts of the digestive system and then remove the foreign object.

Either way, knowing that a trained medical professional has assessed your dog’s situation can put your mind at ease. With this one, it really is better to be safe than sorry.

Can dogs get sick from eating poopy diapers?

Did you know there is actually a name for dogs that eat poop? It’s called coprophagia and while it’s extremely disgusting, it seems to be more common than you might think.

For dogs, one way they look after their young, and just maybe your “young” too, is to clean them up which sometimes involves eating their poop. Sweet, right? Gross, definitely. Chances are the poop itself won’t hurt them. The potential harm is more than likely going to come from the diaper itself. 

While a dog eating a poopy diaper is at the very least revolting and gross, just remember that dogs have been eating other dogs’ feces and their own for as long as dogs have been around. Dogs have also consumed human feces as well.

Can dogs get sick from eating pee diapers?

If your dog gets sick after eating a wet (meaning containing your baby’s urine) diaper, chances are it’s the diaper itself that made your dog sick, not the urine.

Dogs’ digestive systems are a lot better at killing harmful bacteria than ours in general.

Think of the raw meat, fecal matter, and all other kinds of revolting things that dogs are known to get into. Focus on the dangers the diaper itself presents and just view the urine consumption as an added immunity booster bonus.

Can dogs choke on diapers?

If the diaper lodges in the throat, choking can occur. It would be a good idea to get educated in the pet Heimlich maneuver and CPR for dogs for any emergency. If you can see the diaper in the dog’s mouth or throat, this can be attempted.

  • For smaller dogs, gently lift them by the thighs and sway them from side to side and see if anything comes out. Apply forward pressure to the abdomen just behind the rib cage.
  • For big dogs, the Heimlich Maneuver would be best:
    • If the dog is standing, place your arm around its belly and make a fist. Push up and forward just behind the rib cage.
    • If the dog is lying down, place one hand on its back and use the other to squeeze the abdomen upward.
    • Check and remove any loose objects in or around the dog’s mouth that may have dislodged.

Here is a video to show you!

What to do if your dog eats a diaper

If you know for sure that your dog has eaten a diaper, contact your vet immediately. If for some reason you cannot get ahold of your vet, you may consider calling either the ASPCA or the Pet Poison Hotline.

  • ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
  • Pet Poison Helpline: 855-764-7661

While the Animal Poison Control Center and Pet Poison Helpline won’t be able to physically assess your dog or do any procedures to remove the ingested diaper, they can tell you if it is a good idea to induce vomiting and directions on how to do that. They also can tell you symptoms to watch for in your dog. If you see any of those symptoms, take your dog into an emergency center as soon as possible.

How to tell if my dog has an intestinal blockage?

Dogs are notorious for getting into, and eating, things they aren’t supposed to. Some of these items can have difficulty passing through their digestive system which can lead to an intestinal blockage.

Here is a list of symptoms to alert you to a possible intestinal blockage:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Straining during bowel movements
  • Loss of appetite
  • Abdominal bloating and pain
  • Drooling
  • Burping
  • Lethargy

If your dog is exhibiting any of these symptoms, even if you haven’t witnessed him eating a diaper, seek medical attention immediately. Abdominal x-rays for foreign bodies will need to be taken. If an obstruction or foreign body is found on an x-ray, then endoscopy may be performed.

Why does my dog keep eating diapers?

Some dogs just have an inherent desire or possibly even an inherent need to eat poop at times, as disgusting as that sounds. For the same reason that households with both dogs and cats have to worry about dogs getting into the litter box, parents of babies will have to worry about dogs getting into the trash cans and digging out dirty diapers.

We will probably never know for sure why dogs are attracted to fecal matter the way they are, but just know it’s pretty normal behavior for some dogs.

Out of all the things dogs eat, what is so appetizing about diapers?  There is no clear answer to their behavior, but there are plenty of theories.

  • AnxietySome dogs experience anxiety if they are in a new place. Others don’t like being left home alone and will start to chew on random things. If they have a hard time adjusting to the new baby, that could cause their nerves to go up as well.
  • JealousyDogs love the attention of their owners and with a new baby, they are not number one anymore. They could eat diapers as a way of rebellion.
  • InstinctGoing all the way back to wolves, they had to scavenge for food wherever they could get it, even if it meant eating poop to get leftover calories.
  • ProtectionDogs consider their owners like their own pack. You don’t want to give away any scent to enemies.  It could be a way of disposing of odors that could attract predators.
  • TextureDogs chew on shoes, toys, and other odd objects, so the texture of a diaper might be just what they are looking for. 

How to stop dog from eating diapers

Dogs will be dogs. For those of you with a dog who does not have a craving for dirty diapers, consider yourself lucky. However, for the rest of you, here’s a list of some helpful tips for keeping your dog out of the diapers once and for all.

Use a sealed diaper can

A sealed diaper can is basically just a lidded trash can with odor-reducing properties. It usually consists of a lever you push with your foot which opens the lid. You then place the wet/dirty diaper into the small opening and close the lid. As the lid closes, the diaper is moved through the small mouth of the opening and deposited into an interior bag. Some models also have an auto-release baking soda dispenser that lets out a puff of baking soda each time a diaper is placed inside which further helps to reduce odors.

Trust me, no dog will be able to hack into this system. The only cons are the replacement bags can be pricey and the bags have a limited capacity. You may want to consider using this contraption for dirty diapers only.

Throw the diapers in the outside garbage can

This one can be annoying multiple times of the day and night, but if it helps your dog stay safe it is worth it.  Walk the diaper out to the garbage can you leave outside.  They will not smell it and chances are they don’t even bother the big cans anyway.

Training

Some dog owners have been known to “stage” an encounter where they try to entice their dog to eat a poopy diaper. They lay the diaper in a conspicuous spot, then wait for the dog to make his move. Once the dog is about to tear into the diaper, make a loud noise to deter your dog from his prize. Then tell your dog “no” in a firm voice and pick up the diaper.

Repeat this exercise multiple times. The goal of all this is to have your dog begin to associate the loud sounds with the dirty diaper to hopefully deter him in the future.

Use a dog deterrent spray

While lots of smells can potentially deter dogs, citrus scents, in particular, seem to do the job the best. Consider spraying the trash can with a nice lemony or orange citrus spray every time you deposit a diaper. This will hopefully keep your dogs from nosing around the garbage and as an added bonus, your home will smell fresh as well!

Keep all unused diapers out of reach

Just as a precaution, always keep unused diapers in a location your dog can’t access, preferably inside a cabinet or closet. While the chances of a dog playing with an unused diaper may seem slim, never discount anything a dog may or may not do.

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