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My Dog Ate Aluminum Foil: What Should I Do Now?

Aluminum is one of those materials you want to play safe with and keep away from your dog because although it’s mostly harmless, there have been cases of dogs dying from eating aluminum.

If your small dog eats aluminum foil, make a preventive call to your vet even if your dog seems fine. Big dogs, on the other side, are less likely to bear the consequences of ingesting aluminum foil, but keep an eye out for any odd behavior nonetheless.

What should you do if your dog ate aluminum foil? 

If your dog ate foil, it will be important to quantify the amount ingested and if there were any traces of food left on it. In fact, food leftovers can be way more dangerous than the foil itself, especially if it’s chocolate or rib bones.

It would be better to immediately warn your veterinarian if:

  • Your dog has eaten something toxic or high in fats along with the foil;
  • Your dog ate a big amount of aluminum;
  • Your dog is very small or it’s a puppy.

aluminum foilWhen it comes to eating foil, if there are any symptoms they will start showing up pretty quickly, so you should watch your dog closely during the hours following the ingestion.

The presence of symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean your dog’s life is at risk or that they’re in need of a medical examination, but it would be safer to consult your veterinarian if your dog seems to feel sick.

Despite that, most dogs won’t show particular symptoms after ingesting aluminum, especially if in small quantities. You can expect to see pieces of foil in the stools for the next few days and that should be the end of it.

Please note that today, the word ‘tinfoil’ is used to describe the typical shiny kitchen wrapper, which is also made of aluminum and not tin. So whether your dog ate aluminum or tin foil, it is still the same material.

What should you do if your puppy ate aluminum foil? 

Although the general consensus is that we can apply the same rules to both adult dogs and puppies in regards to aluminum ingestion, there are actually higher risks of puppies developing complications from ingesting tin foil.

This happens because puppies are quite smaller and therefore easily exposed to dangerous consequences like suffocation or gastritis.

If your puppy accidentally ate tin foil, call your veterinarian and drive your pooch to the emergency room as soon as possible. There have been cases of death by aluminum in puppies, so you don’t want to risk it.

What happens if a dog eats aluminum foil? 

In most cases, nothing. Your dog should be able to pass aluminum without problems and you may not even find traces in the poop. As long as your dog eats and behaves normally, there is nothing to worry about.

However, that doesn’t mean eating aluminum comes without consequences. A dog that swallowed aluminum foil can be at risk of being poisoned or developing serious diseases, which is why it’s important to recognize the symptoms right away.

Choking hazard 

The first risk related to the ingestion of aluminum is also the most immediate to recognize. Depending on the quantity, this material can become a dangerous choking hazard.

Aluminum doesn’t get softer when eaten and actually becomes harder the more it gets crumpled. That’s why it can easily form a blockage in your dog’s throat if they try to swallow it.

It is not easy to deal with this situation if you’re not a professional, so if you see your dog struggling to breathe or even just breathing more heavily than normal, load them on your car and drive straight to the emergency room.

Gastrointestinal problems

aluminum foil package

When a dog ate a foil wrapper, it may be harder to pass the bigger the quantity ingested. The acids in a dog’s stomach are stronger than human’s, but will hardly be able to digest this material.

This can lead to several gastrointestinal problems like blockage or gastritis.

A dog with a blockage in the intestines will not be able to eat and poop properly. This is a condition that could be easily overlooked in an early stage but can lead to serious consequences.

Another issue with foreign object ingestion is gastritis, which is an inflammation of the lining of the stomach. It can be acute (which lasts for a short time) or become chronic.

The prognosis for acute gastritis is usually quite good, while the prognosis for chronic gastritis depends on several factors that should be assessed by a professional.

If you know that your dog ate tin foil, the smallest signs of discomfort should be taken into consideration. That doesn’t mean you should panic or rush your dog to the emergency room as soon as something looks slightly different from their normal behavior.

Just be sure to keep an eye on them in the hours following the ingestion. Any symptom should not be underestimated and should promptly be reported to your veterinarian.

Food poisoning 

As aforementioned, the most common danger related to aluminum ingestion is the food that was wrapped in it.

Some foods like chocolate and garlic are toxic to dogs and even though the amount left on the wrapping foil shouldn’t be enough to cause serious consequences, given the high toxicity of theobromine (in chocolate) and thiosulfate (in garlic) you may want to ring your vet up as a precaution.

Aluminum foil that is used as wrapping for meat isn’t safe for dogs either. Pork rib bones, for example, are so full in fats that they might cause severe inflammation in your dog’s stomach and intestines.

If you catch your dog eating tin foil, make careful considerations about the amount of material and what was wrapped in it. If you realize it could be something potentially harmful, don’t hesitate to get your pet checked.

Aluminum toxicity 

The toxicity of aluminum for dogs hasn’t been definitely proven and your veterinarian will most probably tell you there is nothing to worry about.

They are right and you shouldn’t panic — nonetheless, keep in mind that there has been at least one case of a dog intoxicated after eating aluminum.

This isn’t meant to scare you, but to remind you that you should be extra careful in leaving aluminum around where your dog can easily access it. Whether or not this material is deemed toxic, your dog shouldn’t eat non-edible things.

However, intoxication by aluminum will probably be the least of your problems as the material should quickly pass and be expelled by your dog. If they don’t, your veterinarian might have to use more intrusive methods to remove it, like endoscopy or surgery.

Symptoms to look out for if your dog swallowed aluminum foil

Whether your dog is developing gastritis, blockage, or other issues related to aluminum ingestion, you should keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

– Vomiting: this is a fairly normal reaction that your dog has to something they aren’t able to digest. However, if it lasts more than a day it could be worrying and your pet might need to be checked.

– Diarrhea: diarrhea happens when your dogs swallow something they shouldn’t, but if recurring could also be a sign of a blockage, so make sure to check the stools regularly.

– Constipation: this is usually a sign of a blockage in the intestines because your dog can’t push anything out. It is usually related to the bloating of the abdomen.

– Blood: blood in the vomit or stools isn’t a good sign, but it isn’t necessarily catastrophic. Stools with blood are recognizable because they’ll be dark brown or black. Contact your veterinarian and discuss your options.

– Lethargy: when something is troubling your dog, they might feel too weak to eat, play, and behave normally. This is usually related to infections, ongoing inflammations, fever, and other diseases. Your dog will probably need a medical examination.

– Lack of appetite: if your dog suddenly looks uninterested in food something is preventing them from keeping the food down or digesting it. If they can’t pass food, they will feel full and nauseated. Loss of appetite can quickly lead to dehydration and lethargy, so you should contact your vet.

– Breathing difficulty: when your dog has trouble breathing soon after ingesting aluminum, they could be suffocating; if, on the other hand, they start having troubles after some time, they might be having an allergic reaction to the remnants of what was wrapped in the tinfoil. In both cases, you should rush your pet to the emergency room.

– Hyperactivity: in this case, hyperactivity doesn’t mean the usual way your dog has to show you they’re excited or happy. When your dog feels sick, they might start panicking and become restless and whiny.

– Bloating: your dog has a swollen stomach and feels pain when touched on the belly. This can be due to constipation, blockage, or inflammation. A dog in this condition will also have a hard time lying down or resting normally.

Not all of these symptoms are clear alarm bells, but the recurrence of one more of these symptoms is a good enough reason to rush your dog to a clinic.

Recommended diet

If your dog ate aluminum foil and is vomiting, the first thing to do would be to seek professional advice. But if for any reason, you’re unable to do that for the time being, you can try managing the situation by changing your dog’s diet.

Start by withholding food for 8-12 hours; after that, feed your dog a small portion of boiled chicken without bones and rice every 6 hours for at least 48 hours and see if they’re eating well and not vomiting.

Then, you can gradually re-introduce their normal diet little by little over the course of the following 5-7 days.

If symptoms are recurring over the course of several days, a medical examination will become necessary.

Is aluminum foil safe for dogs?

It is hard to say that aluminum foil is safe for dogs. Although not deemed toxic and not harmful in most cases, there are just too many unpredictable consequences of eating aluminum for dogs.

Dogs have strong stomachs but are very sensitive to changes in their diet. Single wrong ingestion can become very serious, and this is especially the case with non-edible items like tinfoil.

You should never forget to remove the wrapping before giving food to your dog and you should never leave any kind of wrapping in places where they can easily find them.

Consider also buying a pet-proof bin if your dog is on the sly side and might dig through your trash in search of leftovers. Your dog is guided by their animal instinct, so it’s your responsibility to keep them safe.