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Discovering that a dog ate a tampon or other feminine hygiene product can cause a lot of concern. Puppies and dogs often try to eat foreign or inedible non-food objects because of their natural curiosity and love of chewing. However, these natural inclinations can result in unhygienic or even dangerous situations.
Pet parents who say to themselves, “I think my dog ate a tampon,” and have questions about health complications should look for key symptoms and take action if necessary.
There is always the risk of choking if a dog eats a tampon. The dog could be in immediate danger if the foreign object blocks the airway and prevents them from breathing. This is a medical emergency.
If a dog is gasping for breath or motionless on the floor, they need to go to a local emergency vet clinic immediately. Pets parents should also contact the clinic by phone and ask for guidance on clearing the airway.
Even if the tampon doesn’t block the entire airway, it can lead to an esophageal blockage that scratches or damages the esophagus walls. Sometimes, the object requires surgical removal if the dog can’t vomit it up.
Symptoms of esophageal blockages include:
Drooling and salivating
Pawing at the face
Licking the lips
Failed attempts to swallow
Vomiting with or without pieces of the tampon
An intestinal blockage is another type of issue pet parents could discover. Dogs can develop bowel obstruction if the tampon passes into the digestive tract and gets stuck. Unlike choking or esophageal blockages, symptoms from intestinal tract blockage might take 10 to 24 hours to appear. This is because food normally stays in the stomach for about two hours before heading into the small intestine.
Whether from tampon ingestion or eating other household items, a bowel blockage can become life-threatening if it remains firmly lodged. Apart from reduced blood flow and increased risk of bacterial infections, this blockage could also lead to toxic waste re-absorption and intestinal tissue death in the affected areas.
Dogs may show some of the following signs of illness:
Loss of appetite and vomiting are two of the most common symptoms. Of the two, vomiting happens much sooner and indicates that the pet is trying to get rid of something unwanted. If a partial esophageal obstruction is present then the pet parent may see the dog attempting to regurgitate food, as it cannot pass beyond the obstruction to the stomach. Vomiting soon after eating may occur if a full esophageal blockage occurs, but this can continue if the blockage moves to the intestines or lower in the digestive system. Chronic vomit might have blood in it, and it might be accompanied by diarrhea or other symptoms.
Dogs with a bowel blockage will often feel nauseous, making it seem as if they are not hungry and will present as turning away from food. Some pets may attempt to eat but give up shortly afterward. This loss of food ingestion can lead to other symptoms such as weakness, dehydration, or malnutrition.
Lethargic dogs have low energy and lack the desire for physical activity. If an ordinarily lively pet turns away from playtime or lies around the house, they could be experiencing pain, discomfort, an infection, or another issue from a blockage.
Bowel obstructions can cause lethargy and increase poisoning risks if a used tampon starts to break down in the intestines. As another example, foreign object obstruction from also eating coins can lead to lethargy from metal and mineral poisoning — especially copper, lead, and zinc, which are toxic in high amounts.
Along with lethargy, dogs who have eaten indigestible objects like a tampon often experience abdominal pain, swelling, and constipation. For instance, pet parents might take their pet for a daily walk and notice that they strain but fail to achieve a bowel movement.
While constipation can happen to dogs sometimes, it could be a sign of a bowel blockage if cries of pain or abdominal swelling accompany it. Conversely, diarrhea can also occur in the case of partial obstruction if it occurs in the lower GI tract. Both are worth discussing with a veterinarian.
If a dog shows symptoms like those above or a pet parent suspects or knows that they ate a tampon, contact veterinary support for guidance.
Pet parents may also wonder about the treatment options if their dog eats a tampon and doesn’t vomit it up immediately. Surgical removal is a common treatment for intestinal blockages, but non-surgical options may work if the blockage hasn’t progressed too far.
When a pet parent takes their dog to the clinic, the team performs an ultrasound or X-rays to determine the blockage location. If the tampon hasn’t become too stuck or moved too far into the intestines, the vet might be able to remove it with an endoscope. For a more severe blockage, the vet will perform a surgical procedure to safely remove the tampon from the intestines. The dog will receive general anesthesia to keep them comfortable and often will get intravenous (IV) injections of vital fluids.
Dogs love investigating nooks, crannies, bags, blankets, and other unusual spaces. They also have a knack for getting into the bathroom trash. Sometimes, dogs eat foreign objects like tampons out of curiosity, but other times, they might eat them for territorial reasons. Since dogs are highly protective of their family, they might choose to consume feminine hygiene products to remove scents that might attract predators.
To keep a dog out of the bathroom trash, pet parents need to make the container inaccessible. For example, use a stainless steel trash container with a solid lid and put a heavy rock inside to weigh it down. Alternatively, pet parents can keep the trash can inside the bathroom closet with the doors shut or put it on a higher shelf out of jumping range. Regularly emptying the bin will also help avoid lingering odors.
Pet parents wondering, “What to do if my dog ate a tampon,” are understandably concerned about potential complications. Reach out to Fuzzy’s online vet services for quick questions or emergency advice on how to help your pet.