What Happens If My Dog Ate Cotton? (The Possible Complications)

What Happens If My Dog Ate Cotton

I have to admit that I enjoy going down to the dog park as much as my dog. My dog gets to play with other dogs and I get to engage in interesting convos with other dog owners such as “So what strange things have your dog eaten lately?”

There is a wealth of knowledge to be accumulated from such sessions as it does mentally prepare you for the craziest things our pooches can put in their mouths.

The latest one I heard was a dog eating a bag of cotton balls.

In this article, we will be discussing about the dangers of eating cotton and what you can do to help your cat.

What Is Cotton?

Cotton is a natural fluffy fiber that comes from cotton plants. It is primarily made out of cellulose which is an insoluble inorganic compound.

Countries such as United States, India, Brazil and Turkey are the top cotton producers in the world.

Cotton is more than just cotton balls that we know of. It is one of the most widely used fabrics or textiles in the world. Cotton is used in stuffing, clothing, socks, etc.

What Happens If a Dog Eats Cotton?

Given that there are many uses and objects that are made out of cotton at home, the chances of your dog eating cotton can be high.

Based on my discussions with other dog owners, it does seem that cotton balls are one of the more common cotton items that appeal to dogs.

If your dog ate just one cotton ball, I wouldn’t worry too much about it even if it’s a puppy. Your dog should be able to pass it out within a day or two without any problem.

It becomes a problem when your dog ate cotton balls in large amounts or many cotton balls which are made from polyester.

There are two types of cotton balls, natural cotton balls and polyester cotton balls.

Natural cotton balls are soft, safe and made from 100% cotton. Synthetic or polyester cotton balls are made from a synthetic man-made polymer.

Polyester cotton balls are mostly used in packaging, decorations and stuffing. It poses a bigger problem for your dog as it can’t be broken down as easily as natural cotton.

This basically applies to other cotton items that can be found at home as well.

Choking Hazard

Cotton can quickly become a choking hazard for your dog when it eats a whole bunch of it, even with natural cotton.

It is very easy for cotton to get stuck in your dog’s throat or air passageway given how dry it is. Once a clump of cotton gets lodged in your furry friend’s throat, it can interfere with the air flow to the lungs.

A dog that is choking will show signs of distress, pawing at its mouth, excess drooling, trouble breathing and even seizures.

When you see this happening to your dog, immediately open up its mouth and try to remove as much of the cotton as you can see.

If that isn’t enough, you need to perform the Heimlich maneuver on your dog to force out the remaining pieces of cotton.

Gastrointestinal Blockage

Whenever your dog eats a foreign object, there will be a risk of an intestinal blockage if the object can’t be passed out naturally.

This can happen when the cotton passes through your dog’s throat and enters its tummy. The cotton pieces aren’t fully digested by your dog and get stuck in the digestive tract.

The eaten food can’t get past the blockage after leaving the stomach and will start to accumulate in the intestines.

On the other end, your dog won’t be able to remove the undigested food that it has eaten as nothing can get past the cotton blockage.

Symptoms of a gastrointestinal blockage include:

  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Excessive vocalization

A blocked digestive tract in dogs is a very serious condition that can be fatal for many dogs. It can cause canine bloat whereby the stomach will fold onto itself and prevent the dog from processing food properly.

Your dog needs to get medical treatment at the vet which usually involves surgery to remove the foreign object.

What Should I Do If My Dog Ate Cotton?

sad looking dog

If you have a very small dog or a puppy, the risk of choking or intestinal blockage will be a lot higher than with a bigger dog.

Regardless of the size of your dog, it might be a good idea to call your vet and let them know the situation.

More importantly, try to get a good idea of the amount and type of cotton your dog ate.

If the vet feels that your dog is in no immediate danger, you will be asked to observe your dog closely for the next 48 hours to see if there are any adverse reactions.

If your dog falls into the high-risk category, the vet might ask you to induce vomiting in your dog. This is usually done with Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) that’s diluted with some water.

Induced vomiting works best in cases that happened within 2 hours whereby the cotton pieces are still in your dog’s stomach.

Do not do so without consulting your vet first as some foreign objects can do more damage when regurgitated.

Please do not use a salt solution as that can cause salt poisoning in your dog.

Can a Dog Digest Cotton?

Your dog has a powerful digestive system given their ability to turn into a scavenger when food is scarce.

Dogs have 100 times more stomach acid than humans and can be as acidic as battery acid.

Digesting one or two small pieces of cotton won’t be that much of a problem for your dog. But it won’t be able to fully break down a large amount of ingested cotton.

How long Does It Take For Dogs To Pass Fabric?

dog pooping

Your dog’s digestive tract is shorter than yours hence it takes about 6-12 hours for your dog to digest its food and expel the waste.

It also depends on other factors such as the size of your dog, the amount of exercise it gets and its own digestive efficiency.

You can help your dog pass out the fabric soon by bulking up its stool with psyllium husk or fresh pumpkin.

Just half to one teaspoon of either a day would work well for most dogs.

How Do I Prevent My Dog From Eating Cotton?

Trying to prevent your dog from doing something that it shouldn’t, can prove to be a futile event.

Thankfully there are a few methods you can employ to lower the risk.

Dog Proof Your Home

Time to think like a dog and figure out what can appeal to its curious nature. Anything that is small, made out of cotton and easy to reach should be kept away.

Dogs can be as curious as cats and get themselves in life-threatening situations.

Do a clean sweep of your home and hide anything that can turn into health risks for your dog’s health.

Leave It And Drop It

These two commands are life savers when it comes to our dogs. These two essential commands need to be taught to every single dog from day one.

Your dog needs to learn when it needs to leave something alone or drop a foreign object in its mouth on command.

I love taking my dog to the park for long walks and there were a couple of times I caught my dog trying to eat a pine cone.

Pine cones are dangerous to dogs due to their sharp and hard textures. Some parts of the pine tree can even be toxic to dogs.

Thankfully, my dog is pretty good when it comes to these commands and will drop or ignore the object once I give my command in a stern voice.

Got to show them who’s the boss at times.

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