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Help! My Dog Ate a Bar of Soap! What Do I Do?

Ingesting Foreign Objects By Ben Team 6 min read May 24, 2021 14 Comments

Dog Ate Soap
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Dogs eat a variety of strange things (many of which we’ve discussed before, ranging from corn cobs to cigarettes), but a bar of soap is surely one of the most bizarre things your dog could decide to consume.

It makes me mildly nauseous to imagine. Blech.

Nevertheless, soap-eating is a pretty common occurrence. Many dogs even display an outright affinity for soap. Some appear to actually like to wolf it down like food, while others seem to be more interested in chewing the bar and “enjoying” its texture.

Many owners understandably freak out when they discover that their dog has eaten a bar of soap. We’ll try to help by explaining what you’ll need to do below!

Help! My Dog Ate Soap: Key Takeaways

  • Most modern soaps are pretty harmless. Your dog probably won’t feel great if he noms on a bar of soap, but he’ll get over it with time.
  • Still, you’ll want to contact your vet if your dog eats soap. He or she will likely tell you to take a “wait and see” approach, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You can also contact the Pet Poison Helpline.
  • Don’t confuse soap with detergent — they’re different things. And unlike soaps, detergents are more likely to seriously sicken your pet.

Point Blank: Is Bar Soap Dangerous for My Dog?

No — most bar soaps are formulated from non-toxic ingredients which won’t severely sicken your dog.

He may feel pretty rotten after eating a bar, and it may cause his body to start purging from both ends, but it’s unlikely that he’ll need veterinary attention unless he eats a ton of soap or has other medical conditions.

Still, you should always call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline and solicit their advice anytime your dog eats something that isn’t obviously safe.

It’s also important to note that soaps containing essential oils may sicken your pet, as some of these plant-based derivatives are very dangerous to dogs.

Do not induce vomiting unless you are specifically instructed to do so by a veterinary professional. Not only is this probably unnecessary in the case of soap, but it can be dangerous to make a dog throw up in some situations (this is a good general rule of thumb to remember any time your dog swallows anything that may be dangerous).

There is a chance that a large piece of soap could get stuck in his esophagus or block his intestines, but this isn’t terribly likely to happen. Plus, soap is slippery, which will increase the chances of it sliding free before serious problems occur.

It is also theoretically possible for your dog to smear some of the soap in his eyes. This probably won’t cause much more than minor redness and irritation, but you’ll want to flush them out with plenty of water and watch him closely. He’ll probably start feeling better in no time, but if he doesn’t, call your vet and follow his or her advice.

Need Veterinary Help Fast?

Don’t have easy access to a vet? You may want to consider getting help from JustAnswer — a service that provides instant virtual-chat access to a certified vet online.

You can discuss the issue with them, and even share video or photos if need be. The online vet can help you determine what your next steps should be.

While talking with your own vet — who understands the ins and outs of your dog’s history — is probably ideal, JustAnswer is a good backup option.

Troubling Symptoms in Dogs Who Have Eaten Soap

Even though bar soap is unlikely to cause your dog significant problems, atypical reactions are always possible. Accordingly, you’ll want to be sure to watch your dog closely and seek veterinary attention if he displays any of the signs or symptoms below:

Persistent Vomiting or Diarrhea

As mentioned earlier, your dog will likely experience some intestinal issues after eating a bar of soap. That’s usually not a big deal if the problems go away within a few hours, but if your dog is still suffering symptoms 24 hours later, go ahead and cruise on over to the vet.

 Bloating, Unusual Postures, Pacing, or Visible Pain

The symptoms listed above can indicate a lot of different things, including an intestinal obstruction, which can be a concern for dogs who eat a bar of soap.

Your vet will likely need to examine your dog, and he or she may need to obtain some type of imaging of your dog’s digestive tract to ensure that nothing is clogging him up.

 Swelling of the Face or Mouth or Difficulty Breathing

These symptoms can suggest that your dog is suffering from an allergic reaction to the soap (or some of the additives in it, such as perfumes or dyes).

This can be an emergency medical situation, and it may ultimately prevent your dog from breathing, so grab your keys, load the dog in the car, and head to the vet. Have someone call the vet or emergency room and let them know you are on the way.

Don’t Confuse Soaps with Detergents

Although the terms “soap” and “detergent” are often used interchangeably in colloquial contexts, they technically refer to different things.

We’re not going to get into a deep discussion of the chemical differences between them, but generally speaking, soaps usually won’t make your dog seriously ill. Detergents, on the other hand, may cause very serious health problems for your pet.

shampoo is different than soap

The symptoms and problems detergents can cause differ markedly – there are hundreds of different kinds of detergents, each of which can affect your dog in different ways. Some may have toxic ingredients which could damage your dog’s liver or kidneys, while others may be caustic enough to cause chemical burns.

So, contact your vet immediately if he swallows any kind of detergent. And this includes a lot of things you may think of as “soap,” such as shampoo, dish detergent, and laundry detergent.

Why Do Dogs Eat Soap?

Nobody knows exactly why some dogs eat soap, but it probably has a lot to do with the fact that dogs explore the world with their nose and mouth, and many dogs have an “eat first, ask questions later” attitude.

Most bar soaps are heavily perfumed, and the strong scent may simply spark your dog’s curiosity.

But there’s a difference between a dog that nibbles on a bar of soap and learns from the experience (the practice must surely make them feel like they are experiencing a cross between a hangover and morning sickness), and one that routinely raids the soap tray.

If your pup is young, it may be related to the teething process. In such cases, your dog may not even be ingesting much of the bar of soap. Teething-related soap snacking should be pretty easy to fix – just keep the soap somewhere your dog can’t get to it, and – more importantly – provide him with a suitable puppy teething chew toy to help soothe him during this trying time.

Soap-eating could also represent a behavioral disorder known as pica. Dogs with pica seem strangely compelled to eat inedible items. The condition can involve just about any inanimate object you can imagine. Some dogs consume clothes, others prefer to chew on rocks or dirt, and still others like to munch on paper.

There are a number of hypotheses that seek to explain pica, but none seem to fit in all cases. Some authorities point to malnutrition as one cause, while others report that diabetes and other health problems may trigger the behavior. Stress, boredom, anxiety, depression, and frustration are also likely factors.

If your dog makes a habit of eating soap, start keeping your soap under (metaphorical) lock and key so he can’t get to it, and discuss the issue with your vet.

If your vet determines that your dog is completely healthy, you may want to consider consulting an animal behaviorist to determine the cause and figure out a good solution.

   

Soap is definitely not something you want your dog to gnaw on, but it isn’t likely to cause serious illness. Just be sure to watch him closely and contact your vet if you see any of the troubling symptoms explained earlier.

Has your pooch ever ingested some soap? What happened? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Written by

Ben Team

Ben is the senior content editor for K9 of Mine and has spent most of his adult life working as a wildlife educator and animal-care professional. Ben’s had the chance to work with hundreds of different species, but his favorite animals have always been dogs. He currently lives in Atlanta, GA with his spoiled-rotten Rottweiler named J.B. Chances are, she’s currently giving him the eyes and begging to go to the park.

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14 Comments

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Alice

Boo, my 9month old Newfie, ate about 1/3 of a gold Dial bar this morning. He’s a picky eater. I don’t see any sign of issues so far. I only know he ate it because it isn’t there and there were large muddy pawprints around the soap holder…

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Ben Team

Definitely watch him, Alice, and it’d be wise to give your vet a ring, but it seems unlikely that this will be a huge problem.
Especially given his likely size and the relatively small amount of soap he consumed.
Best of luck!

Reply
yeimi

My dog a German Shepherd yesterday she ate 1 dove soap she looks okay but i was getting nervous she just did diarrhea but to day she look more better then yesterday because today she did pop like she needed too,I got your suggestions and it did work thank you.

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Ben Team

Glad you found the article helpful, Yeimi.

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Maddie

What about liquid puppy soap? I had a bottle of burts bees puppy shampoo that my 8 month old blue heeler got into and it seems he may have swallowed some. It’s been a couple of hours and he seems fine, and the ingredients on the bottle don’t seem very scary, but I just don’t know.

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Ben Team

Hey, Maddie.
The label on Burt’s Bees Puppy Shampoo mentions keeping it out of reach of pets to prevent consumption, so I’d recommend giving your vet a call just to be on the safe side.
I wouldn’t panic, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Best of luck! Let us know what your vet says.

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Annie

My 6-year old beagle-basset mix ate an entire bar of Dove Sensitive soap during the night and had diarrhea within a few hours. Within 12 hours she began vomiting and did 4 times within 4 hours. I spoke with my vet who reassured me she would be okay since no other concerning symptoms existed. Said to give her only small amounts of water and abstain from a full meal for 24-hours from time of last vomiting session. Made an appointment for 8:00 the following morning just in case. It’s going to be a long night.

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Ben Team

Ugh, that’s no fun, Annie!
We’re glad you solicited your vet’s advice so quickly. We wish more owners would follow your lead!
Glad it sounds like your pupper will be OK. Don’t forget to tell us how things turn out.
🙂

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Mary

My 90-pound, nine year-old labrador ate a bar of ivory soap and just vomited it back up. He his walking around like normal and wagging his tail. He has eaten some strange things in his time but this takes the cake. (He has eaten cake and chocolate, too.)

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Pat henry

Well my 1 yr old great Dane just ate an entire bar of Irish spring , from what I’ve read he should be ok just smell good on both ends. Looking forward to seeing green from the other end. He also enjoys eating grass root with dirt .
Great Dane lovable but not bright .

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Pam

My Golden Retriever just ate some Irish Spring I had in the closet, to hopefully chase mice away. Now I’m online searching for some reassurance. Stupid dog, I swear…..

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Jennifer A Statza

Thanks for the helpful info about soap-eating pups. Both my dogs (adults) had a soap-scarfing party in my daughter’s room where several gift soap bars were left within reach.

They both threw up a couple times but seem to be fine. Only silver lining? The vomit smelled great!
I’ll keep an eye on them…and keep any soap out of sight.

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Nelson orwick

My dog got into a bar of soap also has thrown up 2x now and it had blueish chunks in it that had a fragrance to it finally figured it out that the soap bar was missing from the bathroom and I know the 2 kittens I have proably served it to him

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jan

Sometimes I’m glad my dogs are picky eaters.

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