My Dog Ate Dental Floss: What Should I Do Now?

Sometimes dogs are drawn to things that have an attractive smell to them, whether they’re edible or not, and that’s the case for dental floss.

If your dog ate dental floss, and you find out in less than two hours, you could try to induce vomiting and get the string out of his system, otherwise, you should immediately contact your veterinary and keep an eye out for any symptom of discomfort.

What should you do if your dog swallowed dental floss?

Dental flossWhether it’s dental floss or your dog ate a string, any linear object can pose a serious threat to your dog’s health. The first step in any unfamiliar situation that you know might be dangerous for your pet is to contact your vet or your local animal emergency number.

As it often happens in these situations, timing is essential. In fact, if you witness your dog eating dental floss or you find out quickly enough, there’s still a way to intervene before any major damage can be caused to your pup and before it becomes an expensive medical issue.

Induce vomiting in your dog.

The first thing you can try to do if your dog hasn’t yet digested the dental floss (which means within 2 hours from the ingestion), is to induce vomiting in your dog.

Please notice that this is a procedure that should only be performed after contacting your vet because they know your pet’s medical history and will be able to tell you what is the better course of action to follow.

If your veterinary isn’t available, get in contact with an emergency number, but whatever you do, never try to induce vomiting in your dog on your own without consulting a professional beforehand.

What to do if your dog already digested the dental floss? 

Puppy feeling sick

After one hour of ingestion, it might be hard to solve the situation by inducing vomiting and your vet should be consulted. After two hours, it’s safe to say your dog has successfully digested the string.

However, even if the object manages to pass the stomach without symptoms, it doesn’t mean that everything is alright. In fact, it’s in the intestines that linear objects like dental floss may cause the biggest problems.

If the piece of dental floss that was ingested was very short, your dog should be able to digest it and expel it successfully. On the other hand longer strings could actually be life-threatening to your pet.

The biggest threat posed by dental floss is the risk of it wrapping around your dog’s intestines, effectively squeezing one or more parts of it. Aside from the indescribable pain this may cause to your pooch, the string will prevent blood from flowing correctly through the system and this will lead to the necrosis of one or more parts of your dog’s intestine.

The only way to proceed in this case is through surgery, but necrosis can be fatal, and waiting for its symptoms to manifest is too dangerous, so if you suspect that your dog might have digested dental floss, bring them in for a check-up as soon as possible.

Symptoms to look out for.

If your pet ate dental floss you need to keep an eye out for typical signs of pain or discomfort that dogs manifest when they eat something they shouldn’t have and didn’t manage to digest, like vomiting, lethargy, or low energy levels.

On top of that, please look out for these symptoms:

– Anorexia: your dog seems eager to eat but doesn’t; or, your dog progressively shows less and less interest in eating. This means there is something that prevents your pet from eating and if they ingested any foreign object in the hours or days prior to the symptom, it might be a sign of obstruction in their digestive system and requires immediate medical attention.

– Abdominal pain: if the string is constricting their intestines, your dog will be in incredible pain, but you absolutely shouldn’t wait until they show clear signs of it. Any minor sign of abdominal discomfort shouldn’t be overlooked if you know your dog has eaten something not-edible, even if it happened days earlier.

– Unable to defecate: if your dog is having trouble evacuating or if they’re forcing themselves a lot more than usual, that’s another sign of gastrointestinal problems. There might be something stuck inside that prevents them from evacuating properly or they might be feeling too much pain in doing so.

– Loose strings: if you see a string peeking from your dog’s anus, don’t try to pull it out. The string has successfully passed through the intestines and has reached the rectum, so it’s probably going to be expelled naturally with time. If you pull it and the string is still somehow stuck in the intestine, you may cause your dog incredible suffering and you may even cause wounds that will require surgery to be fixed.

How to prevent your dog from eating dental floss again.

Dog feeling sickIt’s hard to say what it is that pushes dogs to eat things that are clearly not edible nor meant for them unless it’s a renowned condition like pica or we’re facing a behavioral problem.

We can assume dogs are attracted to the smell of those things, for example, a dog will surely be drawn to a piece of string that was wrapped around some meat because they can still taste the food on it.

There is no magic trick to prevent dogs from eating dental floss. The only thing we can do is to be responsible and extra-careful in not leaving around things that could harm our pets.

Simply throwing dental floss into the trashcan won’t do, because your dog may be able to rummage through it to find what they’re looking for. On the other hand, flushing it down the toilet may cause clogs in your plumbing system in the long run so you might want to avoid that.

You will need to find the best solution that fits your habits and that of your dog, for example, you could buy a wastebasket that your dog won’t be able to open, or you could keep it in a place they can’t reach or where you know they don’t usually go.

Can dogs eat dental floss?

The danger of dental floss lays in its length. Small pieces can be mostly innocuous, but any long linear object that your dog ingests is a threat that shouldn’t be underestimated.

Dogs, in general, shouldn’t be allowed to eat dental floss. Unlike other non-edible objects like sticks, that might help your dog strengthen their jaws or clean their teeth, chewing or eating dental floss has no utility for your dog and as such it translates into a useless risk.

Some pet owners might be relieved to know that in the most serious cases, there is still the possibility of surgery. But you shouldn’t rely too much on surgical procedures, as they’re extremely stressful and painful for your pet and even when they solve the immediate problem, they could still cause future health issues, diseases, or shorten your dog’s lifespan.

Always be responsible and caring towards your dog and keep dangerous items away from their reach. They trust their whole life in your hands.