Dogs eat dead things. Dogs eat slimy things. Dogs eat ... well, almost anything! When considering the household items that could be problematic for your pet, you might've overlooked one of the most common ones: soap. Because, we as humans, like to add pleasant smells to our soaps, your dog might think they are a tasty treat. If your dog ate soap, you might be worried. Will they get sick? Is soap poisonous?
If your dog ate a bar of soap or licked some liquid soap, you're justified in being a little concerned — but there's no need to panic. Read on to learn the facts, including what soap is actually made of, how eating soap can affect your dog's health and how to know when you should bring your pup to the veterinarian.
What's in Soap?
While every soap is slightly different, most liquid soaps contain water, oils (usually cocamide DEA, monoethanolamine and/or glycerin), fragrances and dyes, among other ingredients, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, parabens, triclosan and cocamidopropyl betaine.
Bar soap and soaps labeled "natural" have similar ingredients. Some soaps may also contain essential oils or dried herbs.
Your Dog Ate Soap: Should You Be Worried?
Some of the ingredients commonly used in soaps are harmful to humans if ingested. However, it can be difficult to know exactly how dangerous it is for dogs to ingest soap.
Soaps containing essential oils can be especially harmful to a dog's health. Pet Poison Helpline explains that pine oil, a common additive in disinfectants and cleaning products, can cause severe side effects in dogs who ingest it. Consuming soap that has pine oil in it can cause vomiting, skin irritation, drooling, weakness, loss of muscle control and can potentially harm their kidneys and liver.
Soaps may also cause chemical burns in your dog's mouth, esophagus and stomach. Additionally, ingesting a large chunk of soap may cause a blockage in your pet.
Signs to Watch For
If you think your dog ate soap, immediately take the soap away from them, flush their mouth out with water and contact your veterinarian. They may suggest monitoring them for the next few hours, or they may recommend bringing them to the clinic right away if they exhibit any abnormal behavior.
According to Wag!, here are the signs to look out for:
- Licking more than normal
- Frequent swallowing
- Pawing at the face
What to Expect at the Vet
If you bring your dog to the vet, they'll conduct a physical exam. Bring the packaging or ingredient list for the soap that your dog ate, if you have it — this will help the vet understand what they're dealing with and can help guide treatment. They may need to perform an endoscopy or take an X-ray to get a full picture of your dog's condition. They may also recommend hospitalizing your dog to monitor them. Depending on how long ago you saw your dog eat the soap may also influence their course of treatment.
If your dog ate a bar of soap, don't panic. Take any remaining soap away from them and get them to the vet if your vet recommends bringing them in. Most importantly, remember to keep all soap products in areas that are out of reach for your curious pet. That way, you can limit the chances of a repeat event and help keep your pooch safe and healthy.
Erin Ollila believes in the power of words and how a message can inform—and even transform—its intended audience. Her writing can be found all over the internet and in print, and includes interviews, ghostwriting, blog posts, and creative nonfiction. Erin is a geek for SEO and all things social media. She graduated from Fairfield University with an M.F.A. in Creative Writing. Reach out to her on Twitter @ReinventingErin or learn more about her at http://erinollila.com.