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Help — My Dog Ate Tinfoil! What Should I Do?

Ingesting Foreign Objects By Ben Team 7 min read May 24, 2021 22 Comments

Dog Ate Tinfoil
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Many dogs love people food, and they’re often willing to choke down a fair bit of inedible material if it means getting the chance to enjoy something delicious.

Most dogs won’t hesitate to snag a French fry dropped on the kitchen floor, and some won’t even let a food wrapper stop them from enjoying something yummy.

This includes aluminum foil (“tinfoil”). Plenty of dogs have eaten their way through some aluminum foil to get to the delicious contents lurking inside. And more often than not, they’ll end up with a bit of the aluminum foil in their belly by the time they’re finished.

This is usually not a big deal. Most dogs will just poop out the aluminum foil and be no worse for the wear. Still, you’ll want to watch your dog carefully for a few troubling symptoms that’ll necessitate a trip to the vet.

We’ll talk about the potential health problems aluminum foil can cause and some of the things you’ll want to watch for below. But first, we need to discuss the actual material we’re talking about.

Key Takeaways: Help! My Dog Ate Tinfoil!

  • Dogs often consume aluminum foil while trying to eat the delicious food it contains. In most cases, your dog will pass the foil without issue, but it can cause serious problems in some cases.
  • Even though aluminum foil often passes easily enough, you’ll want to contact your vet pronto. Your vet may simply encourage you to monitor your pet at home, or he or she may instruct you to come in for an immediate examination.
  • Aluminum is normally considered pretty inert, but it may cause aluminum toxicity in rare cases. Also, the foods contained by the foil may sicken your dog if they include chocolate, excessive fat, or similar things.

Tinfoil Vs. Aluminum Foil: Pedantic Details

Many people use the term tinfoil to refer to the shiny kitchen product used for cooking and wrapping up leftovers.

However, in the modern world, this product is typically made from aluminum, rather than tin.

In the early part of the 20th century, tin was actually used to make foil products for kitchen use. However, many people complained that the tin compromised the flavor of the food. Additionally, foil made from tin isn’t especially flexible, which makes it more difficult to use.

dog-ate-aluminum-foil

Accordingly, aluminum foil – which doesn’t alter the flavor of food and is much more pliable than tin — took over the market once it became widely available in the middle of the 20th century.

None of this matters to you or your dog, except that there is some concern that aluminum can be toxic when ingested. In any event, the two terms are used interchangeably.

The Dangers of Aluminum Foil & Dogs

By and large, aluminum foil is a pretty benign substance – that’s why we use it to wrap up leftover food. However, that doesn’t mean you or your dog should eat it.

There are essentially three reasons aluminum foil ingestion should be cause for concern.

1. Aluminum foil may cause your dog to choke or create an intestinal obstruction.

This is clearly the most acute danger to dogs in most cases. Typically, this is only a problem for dogs who eat a substantial quantity of aluminum foil.

However, if you have a small dog, it may not take very much to create a blockage or get caught in your pet’s throat.

2. The aluminum foil may be coated in fat, chocolate, or other common ingredients, which could make your dog sick.

Most dogs don’t eat unused aluminum foil (those who do may be suffering from a behavioral disorder known as pica).

Instead, they eat aluminum foil that is coated in (or wrapped around) delicious-smelling foods. This may not be a big problem if the food was roasted pumpkin, but if it was chocolate or ribs, your dog may become sick.

puppy-ate-aluminum-foil

3. Aluminum may be toxic when ingested.

Aluminum can be toxic when ingested, and there is at least one case of a dog who became sick after eating an aluminum razor blade.

However, some vets downplay this danger, and it should probably be the least of your concerns, as the foil will likely pass on its own before causing toxicity problems — otherwise you’ll need to have your vet go in and remove it manually.

What Should You Do If Your Dog Eats Aluminum Foil?

You’ll want to take aluminum foil ingestion seriously, but it needn’t cause you to panic. Most dogs will pass aluminum foil naturally, and it rarely causes severe health problems. Just follow the steps below if you discover that your four-footer has potentially eaten some foil.

1. Start by assessing your dog’s behavior and apparent health. Is he acting normally, or is he exhibiting signs of pain, disorientation, or discomfort?

As long as your dog is acting normally, you can just keep moving down the list. But if he shows signs of pain or distress, you’ll want to go ahead and head over to the vet.

2. Try to recreate the scene of the crime. You need to get an idea of how much aluminum foil your dog consumed, as well as what the aluminum foil may have contained. So, start collecting the pieces left on the ground and dig through your trash can to see how much is left inside.

Did he eat the wrapping from a few Hershey’s Kisses or several feet of aluminum foil used to wrap up what was left of your Thanksgiving Turkey?

dog-ate-tinfoil

Keep moving down the list if the quantity involved was minor, but if your dog ate a substantial amount of foil, give your vet a call.

3. Monitor your dog (and his poops) for the next several days. Typically, any aluminum foil your dog eats will pop out the other end easily enough. You may not always see it in his poop, but it is a good idea to take a look anyway.

If he continues to eat, drink, poop, and behave normally, he’s probably fine. However, if he exhibits any serious symptoms, you’ll want to take him in for a veterinary examination.

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.

Post-Tinfoil Eating Signs and Symptoms of Note

Even if your dog continues to act normally right after eating some aluminum foil, you’ll want to continue to watch for the following signs and symptoms over the next few days.

  • Vomiting
  • Signs of obvious pain or distress
  • Panic or hyperactivity (not normal excitement, such as when you get home from work)
  • Refusing food
  • Difficulty pooping or constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Bloating
  • Signs of potential aluminum toxicity, such as tremors, loss of balance, or unusual behaviors.

If you notice any of these symptoms, you’ll want to pack up your pooch and head over to the vet.

What to Expect at the Vet When Your Dog Eats Tinfoil

Your vet will likely start by checking your pup’s vitals and taking a detailed history. He or she will want to know when your dog ate the foil, how much foil he consumed, and what (if anything) was on or inside the foil. He or she will also inquire about your dog’s symptoms, including when they started and their severity.

From this point forward, your vet’s actions will likely be determined by your dog’s condition and your answers.

Your vet may take a blood sample, and then order some X-rays to see exactly where the foil is. This will allow him or her to determine how likely it is to pass on its own.

In some cases, an endoscope (a long, flexible camera inserted into your dog’s mouth or rectum) or ultrasound may be used instead of an X-ray.

If your dog is suffering symptoms because of the substances stuck to the foil, your vet may prescribe medications to counteract the effects or administer activated charcoal to help absorb any chemicals present in your dog’s belly.

Laxatives may be prescribed to help your dog expel the foil too.

If the aluminum foil appears unlikely to pass, your vet may have to go in and remove it manually, which will require surgery.

   

Dogs who eat tinfoil usually recover on their own, and most won’t even display any symptoms. You may see tiny pieces of aluminum foil in his poop for a few days, but that’s usually the extent of the problem. Just be sure to watch your dog closely and be ready to reach out to your vet if your dog begins displaying any problematic symptoms.

In the meantime, take a moment to look over your kitchen and the way you handle aluminum foil. Make sure you aren’t leaving any foil in places that your dog can access and consider adding a pet-proof trash can if he likes to go perusing for treats. This is doubly important if you have the kind of dog who eats just about everything he can access!

Has your dog ever eaten some aluminum foil? Tell us all about it. What was inside the aluminum foil that drew his attention? Did he pass it on his own or did you need veterinary assistance?

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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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22 Comments

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Brad

My 65 lb Amstaff ate ALL of my Christmas Choclates from a box I left on the kitchen counter. I still don’t know how she got them. Aside from that point I started worrying about Chocolate poisoning and the foil and plastic wrappers ingested. I watched her behavior and she was fine. The next afternoon I found 3 (yes 3) piles of vomit with nothing but aluminum foil wrappers and plastic wrappers. She never exhibited any sickness at all. She just puked it all back out. I’m assuming anything else will come out in her poop. She’s acting perfectly normal after four days of observation. But I’ll never forgive myself for leaving food where she can reach it by standing on her back legs to reach the counter. How stupid of me!

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Ben Team

Don’t beat yourself up about it, Brad! We’ve all done, uh, less-than-brilliant things with our dogs before.
🙂
We’re just glad your pooch seems to be doing fine. Just be sure to contact your vet if you notice anything unusual.

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Nadine Mead

My dog ate some foil with chicken juice and a little fat from the chicken. She threw up last night and this morning. I checked her poop this morning and there is foil in her poop. I am watching her closely. She ate her breakfast and drank water this morning.

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liz

My doggo (25lb beagle) ate some foil overnight last night. It was used to cook her turkey treats on, so nothing inside it was a concern, but I know she ingested some. I admit, I am freaking out a bit. :O She was acting normally this morning, but did strain a few times after her morning poo on her walk. I noticed a small piece in her stool, and also in my house like she had thrown some up overnight. She ate her morning kibble fine, and drank some water, but I am concerned! How long before they typically start reacting poorly, if that is the case?

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Ben Team

Hey, Liz. Sorry you’re dealing with a bit of an ordeal.
On the positive side, your dog seems to be acting more-or-less normally and eating. If your dog gets through the next day or three without any issues, she’ll probably be fine. But I’d continue to keep a good eye on her, and call your vet immediately if she shows any troubling symptoms.
Best of luck! Let us know how it goes!

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Bonnie eden

My dog just are 3/4 of an aluminum yogurt cup Yellow paint material used For brand flavor ingredients etc Will keep posting about what happens

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Ben Team

It’s always hard to say for sure, Noah. That doesn’t sound like a lot of tin foil, but it depends on the size of your dog and a variety of other factors.
It’s never a bad idea to go to the vet, and you definitely should seek assistance if your pup starts displaying troubling symptoms.
Best of luck! Let us know how it turns out.

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Noah Nakagawa

My dog ate some tin foil, at the most, the size of 3 peas. Should i seek a vet?

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Quinn

What about a thicker type of foil, like on tops of some individual yogurt containers?

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Ben Team

That type of foil probably presents similar problems to standard tinfoil. We’d recommend watching your pooch carefully and contacting your vet if he or she shows any troubling symptoms.
Best of luck!

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Quinn

What about a thicker type of foil, like on tops of some individual yogurt containers?

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Patrick

Our 55 lb. golden doodle just ate about 2 feet of foil that chicken legs were cooked on…. we will watch her for the next few days and am getting a can of pumpkin to help her pass it.

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Ben Team

Wow — 2 feet of tinfoil is quite a bit. While your doodle may very well pass that, I’d recommend giving the vet a call just to be on the safe side.
Let us know how everything turns out!

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Lynette Heffernan

My Fred, a 50lb Australian shepherd ate a sheet also about 2ft last night. There was about 4 buffalo wings on it. I can’t believe he reached the top of my stove all the way in the back! He has vomited twice and a few small specks of foil was all that came up along with the bones. I’m a wreck!

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Ben Team

Hey, Lynette. Sorry to hear about your mischievous pooch!
Just heed the advice above and try to remain calm. Honestly (and I’m not sure if this will make you feel better or worse), I’d worry more about the wings than the foil.
Either could cause a problem, but (in my non-veterinary opinion) the bones are the bigger threat.
Just give your vet a call and watch him closely.
Our fingers are crossed for you!

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Cathy

Hi Patrick, how is your dog? Did you have any problems with her and the foil? My silly Great Dane has just eaten a ball of foil my husband had scrunched up.

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Gcarobrese

So what was the result…of all these incidents??

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Karen

My 6 month Black and Tan coonhound ate about a golf ball size of aluminum foil after chewing it for a while. She has no symptoms. It has been 4 days and we are anxiously waiting for her to poop it out. But nothing yet.

Cathy- How did you Great Dane do with the ball of foil?

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Ace

I had lasagna the night before and left.the container on the coffee table and my Jack Russell got the dish and chewed the remaining cheese and unfortunately the tin foil too.
She has been passing some blood and I’m worried she may have digester the tin.foil into her insides.
She’s behaving normally and.i will keep.an eye on her.
Any suggestions?

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Ben Team

Hey, Ace. I’d definitely give your vet a call, especially given the fact that your dog is on the smaller side.
Let us know how it turns out! Our fingers are crossed for your pooch!

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Steph

My dog has just eaten a hersheys kiss. Foil and chocolate. He is 10.6 pounds. What should I do?

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Ben Team

Hey, Steph. That’s not a lot of chocolate, but your pup isn’t very big. It’s probably a good idea to give your vet a call and see what he or she recommends.
Best of luck! Let us know how it goes.

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