Health

My Dog Ate A Tampon—What Do I Do?

Written by: Nicole Zalat

February 15, 2022

Your dog has a dirty little secret: he (or she) is obsessed with your most intimate personal items. To them, your used tampons, sanitary pads, condoms, and dirty underwear are like forbidden candy. But this habit is more than just gross and creepy, it can be downright life-threatening.

If your dog ate a tampon or other personal care product, contact your veterinarian immediately! 

What Makes Tampons And Pads So Dangerous To Dogs?

Diapers, tampons, sanitary napkins, and toilet paper are designed to absorb liquids. When swallowed, they immediately begin to soak up the gastric juices in the digestive tract and swell in size and density. This robs the dog of vital fluids and puts them at risk for a life-threatening intestinal blockage. Unused and high absorbency tampons are especially dangerous.

Even the tiny string attached to a tampon can cause serious damage, and potentially be the most dangerous part, if it becomes tangled or tears away at the lining of the esophagus or intestines1.

a graphic of a dog with an intestinal blockage

Are Condoms And Other Personal Items Dangerous To Dogs, Too?

Items like condoms and menstrual cups are non-absorbent, but may still pose a threat. According to Dr. Claire Jenkins of the online veterinary consultation site, VetChat, it often comes down to size—both of the dog and the item.

“Any foreign object has the potential to be dangerous when eaten,” she writes. “Obviously it depends on the size of the object in comparison to your dog, so a condom might be okay to be passed by a full grown Labrador, but not, for example, a Chihuahua. While some objects go straight in one end and out the other, there’s also a chance of them getting stuck in the intestines and forming a blockage along the way.”

a dog in a ripped up pile of toilet paper

Why Do Dogs Even Eat These Things?

Before you label your pooch a perv, consider the reasons behind their nauseating behavior:

Dogs Explore The World Through Their Mouths & Noses 

When faced with a pungent odor, your dog can’t help but explore it. It’s the same thing that drives them to roll in that identified poop and come back inside with the worst perfume you can imagine. Check out this video to see just how powerful your dog’s nose really is!

Dogs Are Scavengers By Nature

Wild canines prefer live prey, but will also scavenge for carrion (a.k.a. dead animals) when necessary. To your dog’s powerful nose, discarded tampons, pads, and condoms reek of decaying biologic material.

a dog's face very close to the camera

You Are Your Dog’s Favorite Smell

Chances are your pooch loves to snuggle up on your hoodie you tossed on the floor, especially if you just got home from the gym. To your dog, your unique aroma is the best smell on earth, and nothing carries your scent better than bodily fluids.

Being curious about (or even eating) your more personal items is just a natural (but dangerous) next step to your pup.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate A Tampon Or Condom?

1. Don’t Panic

Your first instinct might be to freak out, not only because your dog might have eaten something dangerous, but because now you’ll have to have that awkward conversation with your vet about how many used tampons your dog has fished out of the bathroom trash can. But we promise, your pup’s vet sees these kinds of cases often. You aren’t the first!

a dog in a pile of shredded paper

2. Contact Your Vet If Your Dog Ate Something They Weren’t Supposed To

Dogs eat weird things all the time and then poop them out, but that doesn’t mean you should wait until your dog shows signs of illness. If you know your dog ate a tampon or other personal care product, call the animal hospital right away.

When it comes to foreign objects, the earlier your pet gets care, the better their chances of recovery.1 Based on your dog’s size, what they ate, and if you actually witnessed them eating it, the staff can advise you on what to do. They may suggest x-rays or other diagnostic procedures, or have you monitor your dog’s appetite and bowel movements.2

3. Know The Symptoms Of A Foreign Body (a.k.a. Non-Edible Item) Blockage

Dogs can be pretty sneaky, so there’s a chance you may not catch them in the act. If your dog ate a tampon on the sly, you’ll need to recognize the signs of illness that accompany an esophageal or intestinal blockage. These may include2:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain (they may adopt a change in posture or have trouble standing or lying down)

If your pup seems ill or you just cannot shake your anxiety, head to the vet. You can’t put a price tag on peace of mind!

Once The Threat Is Neutralized…

Lock Yo’ Stuff Away! 

Your dog might have pooped that tampon out this time, but you’d rather not go through that stress again (or the embarrassment watching them poop it out in the middle of the dog park for all the world to see).

Intestinal blockages are no joke! Make sure you keep your products out of reach of any paws, or invest in those handy safety locks people use for childproofing. If your dog likes eating used sanitary products or condoms, get a trash can with a lid.

a small french bulldog with unraveled toilet paper
Home pet destruction on white bathroom floor with some piece of toilet paper. Pet care abstract photo. Small guilty dog with funny face

Crack All Of The Jokes

If your dog is safely tampon/sanitary napkin/condom-free and you’ve made sure to take all the steps possible to prevent it from happening again, breathe a sigh of relief and then go ahead and make lots of jokes. You’ve earned it.

Provide Lots Of Stuff Your Dog CAN Chew On

Rifling through the garbage and eating foreign objects might be your dog’s way of telling you they’re quite bored. Even if they have plenty of toys, they could be tired of the same old plushies and squeakers. Make sure you never get a text from home saying, “dog ate tampon” again. Expand their play horizons with a rotating selection of enrichment toys to keep those minds on the job and out of the gutter.

Every BarkBox includes 2 innovative toys, 2 all-natural bags of treats, and a chew, curated from each month’s unique themed collection. Our treats are made in the USA and Canada, and our recipes never contain any wheat, soy, or corn. Because we want #BarkBoxDay to be incredible for pups AND their parents, every box is wrapped in a fun surprise theme that changes monthly. Remember, even dog toys can be ingested accidentally by a determined pooch, so always keep playtime safe with human supervision!

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This article has been reviewed by Margo Hennett, DVM.

Margo Hennet, DVM, cVMA, and veterinarian at BARK is a canine nutrition, health, & wellness connoisseur. She has a combined 10 years of experience in clinical medicine, research, and education—that’s 70 dog years of know-how—and graduated from Colorado State University as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. She completed specialized training in internal medicine prior to working as a general practitioner in Colorado, has authored peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters, holds certification in veterinary medical acupuncture, and is a member of the American Academy of Veterinary Nutrition and American Veterinary Medical Association.


Sources

1Brooks, Wendy. “Linear Foreign Bodies In Dogs And Cats.” Veterinary Partner, 30 June 2020, https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=6075371. 

2Callahan Clark, Julie. “Endoscopic Foreign Body Retrieval in Dogs and Cats.” Today’s Veterinary Practice, 18 May 2020, https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/endoscopic-foreign-body-removal-dogs-cats/. 

Written by: Nicole Zalat

February 15, 2022

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