No matter how careful we are at keeping certain items out of a dog’s reach, sometimes they’re just going to get at things they shouldn’t. If your dog has eaten tampons, this post explains all that you need to do now.
I will also explain the different ways that you can prevent this from happening again in the future.
It’s important to remember that if your dog ate tampons, this would likely have been out of nothing more than curiosity, and no matter how much it has annoyed you, this wasn’t done out of spite. Punishing a dog for inquisitive behavior is never the right thing to do.
But, if your dog ate tampons, there are some things you should do next, and this post will explain what those things are.
Why Would a Dog Eat Tampons?
I suppose the first question is, really, why would a dog eat tampons? To a dog, items like used sanitary wear, dirty underwear, and condoms are like forbidden fruit. The pungent scents of these items attract them, and sometimes the urge to chew on them takes over any chewing training you may have previously done.
There is a logical reason behind this seemingly strange behavior, and it boils down to a dog’s instincts, history, and DNA. Dogs explore through their nose and mouth, and when confronted with a particularly pungent or brand-new odor, they often can’t resist taking a closer look.
Dogs, by nature, are scavengers. Wild canines will always prefer living prey, but they are not averse to scavenging for food either. The decaying biological matter within discarded tampons, sanitary pads, condoms, dirty underwear, or used gym wear is highly attractive to your dog.
Want to know why? Because it is the raw, undiluted scent of their owner. Nothing carries your scent more prominently than your own fluids.
However, this habit is more than just gross; it can be life-threatening.
Why are Tampons so Dangerous?
Often items that dogs eat that we don’t want them to will cause little-to-no harm and naturally pass through the dog in time. However, things like tampons, sanitary pads, and diapers are designed to absorb liquids. When these items are swallowed, they do their job, which is to soak up the moisture immediately.
Tampons will swell in density and size as they soak up the gastric juices within the dog’s stomach. This will take away the dog’s vital fluids and put them at risk of intestinal blockages, which can be fatal.
Unused tampons or tampons with higher absorbances are especially dangerous.
Every component of a tampon is dangerous, right down to the tiny attached string. The string can become tangled internally and tear away at the esophagus or intestine lining.
What About Other Intimate Products?
Intimate items that are not absorbent, such as condoms or menstrual cups, could still be very dangerous if eaten by a dog. The level of that danger comes down to the size of the product and the size of the dog. For example, a small condom will be less dangerous to an adult Great Dane than a large menstrual cup to a puppy Jack Russell.
Any foreign object can be potentially dangerous if consumed. Some items may go in one end and out of the other, but there is always that chance that whatever has been swallowed can become stuck and form a blockage.
What to do if Your Dog Ate Tampons
The first thing to do is not panic, and the second is not to punish the dog. Although your first instinct may be to freak out and chastise the dog, neither of these things are going to help. It is time to have an awkward conversation with your vet; once you have tallied up how many used tampons your dog has managed to get hold of.
Your vet won’t judge you, and I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be the first owner to call with this concern.
Puppies, and even adult dogs, eat strange things all the time (my Yorkshire Terrier consumed a pack of 24 Crayola crayons as a pup, which resulted in a costly vet visit and lots of colorful feces for several days afterward!). Don’t do the wait-and-see method unless advised to by your veterinarian – it could just be too costly.
Your vet will advise you based on the size of your dog and the size of what they have consumed. It may be that you will be told to monitor his appetite and bowel movements, or in the case of items like tampons and sanitary products, it would likely be a physical examination and x-ray or scan.
If you’re not entirely sure if your dog ate a tampon, but you do suspect, then there are signs of illness that accompany an intestinal blockage. These signs could include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Pain in the Abdomen
- Swollen Stomach
- Excessive Thirst
Even if just to put your mind at rest, call your vet. The best-case scenario is that you’re wrong, and he didn’t eat your tampons, but you can’t put a price on being able to shake anxiety!
Preventing History Repeating
If your dog has eaten tampons and this has now been fixed, there are ways to ensure that this doesn’t happen again.
Secure Your Sanitary Products Away
A wall-mounted container will be highly effective in keeping used sanitary products out of paws’ reach. The Alpine container’s heavy-duty and highly durable stainless steel construction will ensure a dog can’t chew his way through.
Another product to consider is a sanitary bin with a pedal. Although these tend to be pretty lightweight and can be knocked over by a determined dog, most dogs will struggle to work out how to operate the pedal in order to open the lid. It would be best if using a floor bin to keep the door shut and locked as an extra precaution
Keep the Dog Out
If your dog is now overly attracted to the restroom, you could consider installing a sturdy indoor dog gate; just remember to always lock it!
I previously have recommended the Safety 1st Extra Tall Gate as an overall best buy, as I like the auto-shut function, meaning it locks into place simply without any fiddly mechanisms. Due to this gate being a pressure-fit design, it is a no-tool installation. It’s also very sturdy.
You could place the indoor dog gate at the bottom of the stairs to restrict the dog to the ground floor of the home only, or if you want to limit the dog’s internal access to just one room, then on the door to this room. Another option would be to use a dog playpen for the times when you can’t fully supervise your dog’s activities.
For the most Houdini-inclined dog out there, I have previously suggested the 7 Best Heavy Duty Dog Crates, which should effectively contain your dog inside the home and keep him – and your sanitary products – safe.
Dog Behaviors that could lead them to eat Tampons
The advice above is how to combat the behavior, but it’s also important to understand why this could be happening. As mentioned above, some dogs cannot override that craving to chew on highly potent items, no matter what you do. In these circumstances, the only thing you can do is to prevent it from happening.
However, there are other times when your dog can be displaying undesirable behavior due to issues that you may not have considered, and these are as follows.
Mental stimulation is crucial for a dog. How much depends on the breed primarily, as some highly intelligent breeds who crave brain work much more than others. Consider how much time you are interacting with your dog, and for the times you aren’t there, I would suggest the purchase of some dog puzzle toys, which can be a great distraction from the bathroom bin!
If you have a high-energy breed, then a simple walk around the block will not cut it. Mental stimulation is important, but equally so is physical exercise. If you cannot provide an adequate amount, maybe you could look at hiring a dog walker or offering a friend or family member a little cash in exchange for taking your dog out when you can’t.
You could also purchase some dog agility equipment to use in the yard with your dog, which is a fun way to bond in addition to providing some much-needed exercise.
Lack of Training
It may be the case that your dog isn’t as well trained or responsive to your commands as you thought. You could consider going back to basics or even look into puppy classes. Often it is the case that we deem our dogs to be better behaved than they actually are, and we can presume that they know the rules of the house – but why would they if we haven’t taken the time to lay them down properly?
If your dog is unhappy, he could respond to this by exhibiting poor behavior, much like a person with a low mood can ‘act out or make poor and reckless decisions; the same can be said for our canine friends. Have a look at this guide on keeping your dog happy and healthy to check that there isn’t something you may have missed.
It is true that no dog is born ‘bad,’ but some can be born with chemical imbalances, brain defects, and neurological disorders that require more help than a few additional chew toys. If you feel that your dog’s behavior is persistently poor or that you can’t correct it despite what you try, then it may be time to consult a vet who can rule out any medical issues, followed by a dog behaviorist.
Dog behaviorists have no certification; pretty much anyone can set up to be a dog behaviorist; it is an unregulated field. Research properly if this is something you wish to look into, and always check the reviews and the credentials of the behaviorist.
The Bottom Line
If your dog ate tampons, you now know what to do next as well as the different avenues to explore to prevent this from happening again.
Forrest is a lover of dogs, the wild outdoors, deep mysterious conversations… and coffee. He is the owner of several websites, including Canine Weekly. He resides in Austin, Texas.