It can be quite unsettling to see your dog eat stuff that we consider quite disgusting like used condoms and diapers filled with baby poop. However, for your dog, this is just another average day exploring the world unaware of the troubles they’re putting themselves into.
For some pet parents, it may be embarrassing to call the veterinarian to say that their dog swallowed a condom, but mind you that this could be a medical emergency that requires professional assistance. In fact, condoms can cause blockage in the intestines, especially in small dogs.
What to do if your dog eats a condom?
If your dog eats a condom, consider their size and their history with bad ingestions. Do they usually have easily upset stomachs or have they experienced gastrointestinal blockage before?
If the answer is yes, call your veterinarian to get some advice because your dog may be particularly sensible and the condom won’t do them any good.
You will probably be asked a few questions such as:
- What size/breed is your dog?
- How long ago did they eat the condom?
- Have they shown any symptoms or abnormal behavior since then?
- Have they been drinking and eating normally?
- Did they pass stools after eating the condom?
- Did you see the condom or pieces of it in the stools?
The size of your dog is, as we said, another fundamental detail. A small dog that ate a condom will be more likely to develop GI blockage than a big breed. If you have a Chihuahua or a Corgi for example, better play it safe and bring them to the animal hospital.
Generally speaking, most dogs pass condoms within the following week without showing any discomfort. For big breeds like Labradors or German Shepherds, a condom could be just another unusual snack and they won’t experience any after-effect.
However, even if your dog is big and has a strong and healthy digestive system, the risk of GI obstruction is always behind the corner when it comes to inedible items, so if you’re concerned, do call your veterinarian as soon as you can. Better to be safe than sorry.
In some cases, your veterinarian may suggest to monitor your dog and do one of these two things:
- Induce vomiting (at the animal hospital or, if not possible, at home)
- Feed your dog high-fiber foods
How to induce vomiting in your dog.
The safest way to induce vomiting in your dog is to bring them to the veterinarian because there’s a risk your dog may aspirate the vomit and it would be better to do it in a controlled environment with experts that are ready to handle unpredictable consequences.
If it’s not possible to reach your vet or any animal clinic in your proximity, you may attempt this procedure at home giving your dog 2 teaspoons of 3% hydrogen peroxide per 10lbs of body weight.
If your dog is a troublemaker and it’s hard to make them swallow things, you can mix the hydrogen peroxide in a ratio of 50:50 with ice cream or milk to make it more appetizing to them.
The most effective way to go about this procedure is to hold your dog between your knees while kneeling on the floor, with their head facing the opposite way from you.
Make them point their nose at the ceiling, open their mouth, and quickly pour the hydrogen peroxide down their throat with a shot glass.
To make the best out of this procedure, it would be better for your dog to move around after swallowing the compound. Make them play or run around in the yard, they will be more likely to vomit.
In case your dog doesn’t vomit after ten minutes, you can try once more. If your dog doesn’t vomit after the second time, do not try to induce vomiting again.
Some dogs do not vomit even after swallowing hydrogen peroxide. At this point, you can try a different method that could work both to make them vomit and to help pass the condom through the intestines.
If the condom is still in the stomach, this could make your dog vomit. If it’s been two hours since the ingestion and the condom has probably passed through the intestines, the foods can wrap around the condom and bulk up the stools to make it pass through.
What happens if a dog eats a condom?
Some dogs may pass the condom without troubles because dogs are known to have surprisingly strong stomachs and every veterinarian has their fair share of incredible stories about what dogs manage to eat and pass without as much as a stomach-ache.
Sometimes you may see the condom hanging from their anus for several hours or days because passing a condom can be a very slow process. It’s important that you do not pull the condom out, because it will eventually come out on its own and you may risk hurting your dog for nothing.
The main risk related to condoms is their ability to cause a blockage in the gastrointestinal tract. However, there is also a small chance that your dog may be allergic to the condom.
A condom could easily cause an obstruction in small dogs, but could also provoke partial blockage in big dogs.
The symptoms can show up immediately after the ingestion or hours later, as the condom moves down the GI tract. Most common signs of obstruction include:
- Abdominal pain
- Lack of appetite
In the presence of one or more of these symptoms, bring your dog to the nearest animal hospital. After a thorough medical examination, the veterinarian can decide how to remove the foreign object from the body. Sometimes, medical surgery may be necessary.
This is a rare occurrence, but condoms may cause allergy in dogs. Most condoms are made from latex, which is also found in many other products.
When we refer to latex allergy, we’re actually talking about an allergy to the sap of the rubber plant, because latex can derive from natural rubber or from synthetic rubber, which has an oil base composed of various chemicals.
Dogs can develop an allergy to both types of rubber, and it’s likely to get worse with time, so if you suspect an allergic reaction, bring your dog to the veterinarian immediately.
Symptoms of latex allergy in dogs may include:
- Obsessive licking/pawning
- Breathing difficulty
- Head shaking
- Skin rashes
Skin rashes may be usually noticed on the face, the groin, between the toes, and under the front legs.
Latex allergy is more common when coming in direct contact with the material, but a dog that is allergic to latex could also react to it after ingestion.
Treatment for latex allergy in dogs is possible, but usually requires very strong medications that could have unpleasant short side-effects like diarrhea and increased thirst or even long side-effects like liver failure and diabetes.
It’s impossible to know beforehand if your dog is allergic to latex, so in this case, prevention is the best medicine.
Why do dogs eat condoms?
What looks like an unacceptable behavior to us is just pure instinct for your dog. Dogs have a strong sense of smell and they explore the world through their muzzle.
They are particularly drawn to the natural scent of other animals, humans included. To them, our scent is their favorite thing, because it’s what makes your dog recognize their favorite human.
Bodily fluids carry a strong natural scent and your dog is probably attracted to it, just how they like to roll on your used clothes.
It may also be a question of predatory instinct. Let’s not forget that dogs have started evolving from wolves only a few thousand years ago, which in evolutionary years is just a little longer than a coffee break.
Your dog keeps most of their wild instincts intact and will scavenge for prey, dead or alive. Organic matter like what they can find on tampons and condoms reeks like decomposing flesh to them.
There is a fine line between instinct and medical condition, and pica works in the latter area.
This condition sees dogs having a real obsession with inedible items. A dog affected by pica will eat the impossible, including the walls of your house.
A single condom may not be worrying, but if your dog has a history of eating weird stuff, maybe it’s time for a medical examination.
The causes behind pica can be environmental, psychological, or related to your dog’s diet. Your dog may be looking for the nutrients they lack in their daily meals; in that case, it’s enough to improve their diet with the help of an expert.
Sometimes dogs get anxious when they’re left alone for many hours a day, or get bored when they are understimulated. This can lead to depression in dogs, which is one of the main causes of pica.
Treatment for this condition is possible once the cause has been found. Sometimes your dog will need behavioral training to overcome their bad habits.
Can dogs eat condoms?
Condoms aren’t among the worst things your dog could eat, but they are far from being harmless.
As with many other inedible items, the risk of gastrointestinal obstruction is always behind the corner.
As much as this is a fairly common condition in dogs, it shouldn’t be underestimated. In fact, in small dogs, a condom is enough to cause a complete obstruction, which could be fatal if not treated in time.
In some rare cases, latex could also cause bad allergies that could make your dog very sick and could require expensive treatments that may also have strong side-effects on your pet.
Prevention is the best course of action. Make sure to store your condoms somewhere your dog cannot access and don’t leave them around after you use them.