What to Do If Your Dog Ate Soap
If you suspect that your dog has eaten soap, your first step is to call your vet. If they are not open, a local animal hospital is the next best option. When they’re on the phone they will likely ask the following questions, so do your best to collect your answers quickly:
- What type of soap was eaten?
- Were there harmful ingredients in the soap?
- How much soap was consumed?
- When was the soap consumed?
- Is your dog showing any symptoms?
Which Types Of Soap Is Most Harmful?
- Dishwashing soap and laundry detergent: These cleaning products often contain harsh chemicals and surfactants, which can cause irritation or even chemical burns in a dog’s mouth, throat, and digestive tract. Ingestion may lead to vomiting, diarrhea, drooling, and other signs of gastrointestinal distress.
- Hand sanitizers: These products typically contain a high concentration of alcohol (ethanol or isopropanol), which can be toxic to dogs if ingested. Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in dogs may include vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, lethargy, and, in severe cases, seizures or coma.
- Antibacterial soaps: Some antibacterial hand soaps contain triclosan or triclocarban, could cause gastrointestinal upset and, in rare cases, liver damage.
- Scented and colored soaps: Soaps with added fragrances, dyes, or essential oils can also be harmful to dogs. Some of these additives may cause allergic reactions or gastrointestinal issues if ingested.
Which Ingredients In Soap Are Most Harmful?
- Ethanol or isopropanol: These alcohols are found in hand sanitizers and can lead to alcohol poisoning in dogs, causing symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, lack of coordination, lethargy, seizures, or coma.
- Sodium hydroxide (lye): Often used in the production of bar soaps and detergents, sodium hydroxide can cause burns and severe irritation in a dog’s mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract.
- Surfactants: Commonly found in detergents and dishwashing soaps, surfactants (e.g., sodium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate) can lead to gastrointestinal distress, including vomiting and diarrhea.
- Phenols: Present in some cleaning products and disinfectants, phenols can be toxic to dogs if ingested, potentially causing symptoms like drooling, vomiting, and tremors, as well as more severe effects such as kidney or liver damage.
- Triclosan and triclocarban: Two antibacterial agents, found in some soaps, can cause gastrointestinal upset and, in rare cases, liver damage in dogs.
- Borax (sodium borate): Found in some laundry detergents and cleaning products, borax can be toxic to dogs if ingested, causing symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, or in severe cases kidney damage.
- Essential oils: Tea tree, wintergreen, pennyroyal, pine, eucalyptus oils are the most toxic ones that could cause poisoning or emergency treatments. However, if a dog eats any soap with an essential oil theres risk of sickness.
Symptoms to Look For
If you suspect that your dog has some eaten soap, monitor them closely for the following symptoms:
- Coughing or gagging
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Lack of appetite
- Lethargy or weakness
There are more serious symptoms of soap consumption which are often related to the more harmful ingredients or large quantities:
- Seizures or tremors: If a dog ingests soap containing toxic ingredients (e.g., essential oils like tea tree oil, wintergreen oil, or pennyroyal oil), it may experience seizures or tremors.
- Difficulty breathing: Ingestion of certain types of soap or large amounts may cause inflammation or swelling in the throat, leading to difficulty breathing.
- Chemical burns: Ingesting soap with harsh chemicals (e.g., sodium hydroxide) can cause chemical burns in the mouth, throat, and gastrointestinal tract.
- Central nervous system depression: toxic ingredients, such as alcohol in hand sanitizers, can lead to central nervous system depression, which may manifest as severe lethargy, lack of coordination, or unconsciousness.
Preventing Your Dog from Eating Soap
Ensure that all human cleaning products are out of your pet’s reach or ability to access, like high shelf or behind a locked cabinet. Especially in puppies, soaps can be mistaken for a tasty treat so consider switching to liquid soaps that are more concealed and less likely to attract your dog’s attention.
If your dog frequently eats non-food items, such as soap, it may be a sign of pica, a condition related to a nutritional deficiency. If that’s the case, you may want to consider buying all-natural soap products until your dog receives proper treatment.
Additionally, there are several pet safe soaps and detergent options on the market.