Your dogs will eat many things that you won’t like, but few things will be weirder than your dog eating a diaper. Some dogs are attracted to diapers and, even worse, to your child’s poop.
Unfortunately, both things can be harmful to your pet. If your dog ate a diaper, they’re at risk of developing GI obstruction, infections, and other diseases, so you should bring your dog to the veterinarian.
What should you do if your dog eats a diaper?
Whether your dog ate a dirty diaper or a clean one, they’re at risk of developing different conditions, some of which may be very dangerous for their health, so the first thing to do would be to call your veterinarian.
Depending on how much of the diaper they’ve eaten, it may be wiser to just jump in your car and bring them to the clinic without wasting any time. However, if it’s a small amount your vet may suggest observing your dog for the following hours.
These are some symptoms you should look out for:
- Persistent vomiting
- Stomach bloating
- “funny” walking
- Painful abdomen to the touch
- Loss of appetite
- Heavy breathing
- Lying in strange positions
- Unusual whining
Any of these symptoms is worth a ride to your vet. Make sure to bring along a clean diaper so your veterinarian can check the materials it’s made of.
Diapers and baby poop are not toxic to your dog, this means that your dog doesn’t risk immediate poisoning, but it does not mean that they aren’t at risk of developing serious infections or diseases.
For most dogs, the biggest concern will be a blockage in the stomach or intestines, which could become dangerous only if left untreated. Veterinarians see dogs with GI obstructions every day, and the prognosis is usually good.
In other cases, treatments and prognosis will depend on the condition of your dog and on the gravity of the disease. However, prompt intervention is fundamental for a good outcome.
What should you do if your dog ate other baby items?
Diapers aren’t the only baby-related item dogs seem attracted to. Many dogs have been reported eating baby cream, teething gel, baby wipes, and other ointments.
While for most of these items the risk is limited to gastrointestinal obstruction, there are items like the teething gel that contains xylitol and benzocaine and therefore are very toxic for your pet.
Baby creams and gels are in fact the products that are most likely to make your dog sick. For example, if your dog ate diaper cream, although the amount eaten is rarely toxic, it could still cause inflammation in the GI tract.
In all of the above cases, it is better to bring your dog to the vet right away.
Why are diapers dangerous for dogs?
To understand why diapers are so dangerous for your dog, we first need to break down the anatomy of a diaper.
Since disposable diapers are the most used and also the most harmful for your dog, it is important to know what materials they’re made of, so in the case your dog ate a disposable diaper, you know what to expect.
Disposable diapers usually have three layers:
– Outer layer: this is the waterproof layer, it’s designed to prevent leaks and it’s usually made from petroleum-based plastic or plant-based plastic (bioplastic);
– Middle layer or absorbent core: this is the most important layer in a disposable diaper because it’s the one that absorbs the baby’s fluids. Its stuffing is composed of fluff material and chemical crystals known as Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP), which are meant to distribute the fluids along the surface of the diaper and lock them in the absorbent core so that the baby doesn’t get wet with it when they move around;
– Inner layer: this is the part that is in direct contact with the baby skin and it’s therefore made from a breathable material, although most diaper manufacturers don’t disclose what kind of material the top sheet is made of.
Because of its absorbing power, the middle layer is usually the main responsible for gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs.
However, the situation isn’t only concerning if your dog ate a baby diaper. In fact, there are different kinds of diapers and other items related to diapers that could make your dog sick.
Most diapers will have transparent or white stickers used to secure the diaper around the waist. Your dog could accidentally eat them while eating the diaper, or they may get stuck on their fur.
While in the latter case the situation could be very painful for your pooch, but not dangerous, in the first case the sticker could get stuck in the digestive tract.
The sticker may not be big enough to cause a blockage, but if it’s still attached to a piece of the diaper, it could lodge it inside the stomach or the intestines and prevent it from passing through.
Super Absorbent Polymer (SAP) was invented in Japan in the 70s and has been used in diapers since the mid-80s. It’s also called Absorbent Gel Material (AGM) or hydrogel.
It is basically a petroleum-based product that is designed to absorb moisture up to 300 times its weight. When dry, it has the form of small crystals and when wet, it looks like a sort of gelatine.
This gel is much like the silica gel we find in packages and it’s found in the middle layer of most disposable diapers, whether they’re made of plastic or bioplastic.
There seems to be a cloud of mystery around this polymer, as some claim it hasn’t been tested enough before releasing it into the market and therefore the possible toxicity of it has concerned many parents.
With the limited info we have, we cannot say if this material is dangerous for babies, but surely it’s not something you want your dog to eat. If your dog ate diaper gel because they ate the absorbent layer of the diaper, get in contact with your vet or the Pet Poison Hotline.
Diaper Rash Cream
The tubes of baby cream seem to appear particularly charming to dogs as they like to chew on them until, inevitably, some of the product ends up in their mouth.
What you can find in these creams is usually zinc or vitamins. You don’t have to worry about vitamins, but zinc toxicity is another matter.
Zinc is a metallic element that can be found in many items and products. Its toxicity depends on the amount and type ingested. Say, if your dog ate a penny the situation will be different than ingesting a bit of diaper cream.
Zinc is actually needed in our diets and only becomes toxic when the amount exceeds what our bodies need. Eating diaper cream won’t poison your dog unless they eat it often and in big amounts, but it could irritate their GI tract.
However, diaper rash cream can be harmful to your dog when inhaled, because if it gets into the lungs it could cause aspiration pneumonia, which is a life-threatening condition.
Not all manufacturers of disposable diapers disclose the complete list of components of their diapers because some of them are labeled as ‘proprietary trade secrets’ and are not legally required to be disclosed, such as fragrances.
The problem is that there is no way of knowing what kind of chemicals are hiding behind the label of ‘fragrance’ that could be potentially harmful or toxic if ingested by your dog.
Unless you’re using fragrance-free diapers, assume there might be something toxic in the diapers your dog just ate, and contact the Pet Poison Hotline. Keep the box beside you so you can read the ingredients when asked.
Which type of diaper did your dog ate?
All diapers are created to serve a similar purpose, but they’re not all the same. Depending on who is the designed final user, different diapers have different sizes, layers, and accessories.
In the unfortunate case that your dog eats a diaper, the type of diaper plays a role in what you can expect afterward and how quickly your dog may need medical care.
Many people think adult diapers are just baby diapers that come in bigger sizes, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
While baby diapers are not meant to be worn for a long time and babies get changed very often, the absorbent power of adult diapers is much stronger and their middle layer can be much thicker.
Because of this, between a dog eating a small part of a baby diaper and a dog eating the same part of an adult diaper, the latter will be more at risk of developing GI obstruction.
It goes without saying that a dog that ate a whole adult diaper has ingested a very big amount of inedible material and should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
If you care about the environment, you’re probably already aware of cloth diapers. These reusable diapers are perfect to reduce pollution provoked by disposable diapers and are also going to save you a lot of money.
On top of their green qualities, dogs are less attracted to cloth diapers, so the risks of your dog feasting on one of these diapers are much lower than you would have with disposable diapers.
Since cloth diapers seem so perfect, you may be wondering what dangers could they possibly be hiding for your pet.
Cloth diapers are not made from the same materials as disposable diapers, but they do have an absorbent layer that could cause an obstruction if ingested.
However, the main concern related to cloth diapers is the closures used to secure them around the baby’s waist. In fact, some cloth diapers may be closed using safety pins or other items that could easily lodge inside the stomach and intestines, or even cause internal wounds.
Diapers for dogs are not only meant for old pooches with incontinence problems, but they can also be used to discourage dogs from marking the territory, to help female dogs during the heat, and to train puppies and adult dogs alike.
Dog diapers are usually meant to absorb liquids and not feces, but apart from this difference, they are very similar to human diapers.
The problem with doggy diapers is that most dogs absolutely hate them and will try anything in order to get rid of the annoying material around their bottom.
When a dog keeps tearing off dog diapers, they risk ingesting a large amount of it. Imagine this action repeated for every diaper you change and you can get an idea of how much material they are actually eating.
It may not hurt them the first time, but it will surely cause trouble sooner or later.
What happens if a dog eats a diaper?
Dogs with diaper cravings are at risk of developing threatening diseases, some of which may significantly affect the quality of their remaining life.
Luckily, most dogs do not suffer serious consequences from eating diapers or baby poop, because it is rare for a dog to ingest enough material to become gravely sick.
Adult dogs have strong stomachs and are capable of digesting almost anything, which is why our furry companions can eat the most disgusting things without experiencing anything beyond a stomachache.
However, diapers are among the most dangerous non-toxic things your dog can eat, for all the reasons we mentioned in the previous paragraphs.
The conditions and the diseases your dog could potentially (albeit rarely) develop after eating a diaper are not to be underestimated and anything symptom that goes beyond the isolated episode of vomiting or diarrhea should be promptly reported to your veterinarian.
As we mentioned before, the middle layer of the diaper is designed to absorb liquids and its volume expands with the liquids absorbed.
If a dog ate diaper filling, this material executes the function it’s made for and starts soaking up with the liquids and moisture in your dog’s stomach. As it does so, it will start to swell and potentially fill up the whole space, causing a complete obstruction.
Furthermore, as the filling material absorbs as much liquid as possible, your dog risks severe dehydration, which is a very dangerous condition that could make your dog collapse and could also cause premature death.
Feces are the home of bacteria and human feces are even more dangerous because they could contain remnants of foods, medications, and other things that could be toxic for your dog.
The average adult dog, in the absence of pre-existing medical conditions, has a quite strong immune system that should protect them from these bacteria, however, it is easy to see how risky eating feces can be for your pet.
Bacteria, drugs, and wrong foods can easily cause gastroenteritis in dogs. This inflammation of the GI tract is not uncommon in dogs but can be very serious if not treated in time.
You already know by now about the hidden dangers of cloth diapers for your dog. Cloth diapers are a brilliant choice if you want to be environmentally friendly, however, you should be extra careful not to leave them where your dog can find them.
Most purchasable cloth diapers today have buttons sewn directly on them, but homemade cloth diapers could have different closures that could be easily torn off and ingested by your dog.
Closures like safety pins could easily perforate the abdominal cavity, provoking the inflammation of the peritoneum, which is the membrane that lines the abdominal cavity.
Peritonitis is extremely dangerous and has a high mortality rate for dogs. Its earlier symptoms are similar to those of a gastrointestinal blockage and include vomiting, diarrhea, bloody stools, and a painful abdomen.
However, if untreated, peritonitis can quickly lead to blood poisoning because the rupture of the abdominal membrane allows gut bacteria to enter the blood. Bacterial toxins may provoke sudden shock of the dog, with consequent death.
Why do dogs eat dirty diapers?
Many pet parents are dismayed in finding out their dog ate baby poop because they can’t understand why they would do something so disgusting.
The truth is, the reason behind this behavior is still unclear, but we can make some assumptions based on a dog’s nature and instincts.
Dogs’ Sense of Smell
First of all, the dogs’ sense of smell is 40 times stronger than humans’. Dogs have around 300 million smell receptors in their nose, while we only have around 6 million.
This is the reason why dogs use their nose to explore the world and are sometimes interested in those things that give off a strong smell, as disgusting as they may seem to us.
Pet parents sure have noticed how dogs often smell the ground during walks and sometimes may eat something inappropriate because of it.
Baby poop may have this kind of attraction to them. Dogs are attracted to the feces of other animals, and human feces make no exception.
Not many pet parents know that coprophagy (the eating of feces) is actually in a dog’s nature.
Mom dogs eat their puppies’ feces in order to eliminate all the odors that could potentially attract predators. It is a way to protect their little ones, so perhaps your dog has taken upon themselves the responsibility to protect your baby.
Seeing your dog eating poop will never be a pleasant sight, but maybe you can console yourself with this nice thought!
Before turning into the home companions we know today, dogs are the descendants of grey wolves and still have some of those instincts typical of the wild.
Preys in the wild are devoured from their meat to their bones, and this sometimes includes their feces as well, especially in times of starvation. Feces may be a food source for your dog, but certainly not a healthy one.
If your dog has a habit of eating feces from other animals, you should consider the reason behind it. A dog that finds all the nutrients they need in their diet wouldn’t go around looking for other food sources.
Your veterinarian or an animal nutritionist may help you compile the best diet tailored to your dog’s needs.
Can dogs eat diapers?
Absolutely not! Do not leave diapers where your dog can reach them, because diapers pose more than one threat to your pet’s health.
Dogs will be most attracted to dirty diapers because of baby poop. It’s part of a dog’s instinct to eat feces from other animals, but poop is full of bacteria that can cause a great deal of harm to your dog and could even kill them.
Furthermore, if your dog ingests the diaper along with the poop, they’re at risk of developing painful conditions like gastrointestinal blockage that may need surgery to get the diaper out.
Store your diapers in a safe and locked place and throw away the used ones immediately. Make sure your dog doesn’t have access to the garbage can either, because they could take them out along with a lot of other unhealthy items.
Other baby items like diaper cream may be harmful to your pet as well, so keep them all in one place where you know your dog won’t find them.