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Help, My Dog Ate a Tampon! What Do I Do?

Ingesting Foreign Objects By Ben Team 7 min read August 14, 2021 20 Comments

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More than one owner has come home to find that their dog has picked through the bathroom trashcan.

And while there are often plenty of things in there that can catch a dog’s attention (from dining on diapers to scarfing down bars of soap), used feminine hygiene products are a frequent source of intrigue for our canine counterparts.

But aside from the perplexing nature of this habit, tampon-eating can actually be dangerous for your dog. We’ll explain the potential problems that can precipitate from the practice and try to illuminate the reasons dogs often find tampons tempting below.

My Dog Ate a Tampon: Key Takeaways

  • Tampon-eating is actually a pretty common problem among dogs. It isn’t clear exactly why dogs seem drawn to these types of hygiene products, but it is likely due to the odor of blood and the way cotton feels in their mouths.
  • Despite being a common problem, it can cause serious health problems. Some dogs will pass an eaten tampon without issue, but others may choke, experience dangerous intestinal blockages, or suffer extensive (even life-threatening) lacerations from the attached string.
  • You’ll want to contact your vet immediately if you discover that he’s eaten a tampon. In some cases, your vet may recommend bringing your dog in for an immediate examination; in other cases, your vet may simply advise you to monitor your pet.

First Thing’s First: Is My Dog in Danger From Eating a Tampon?

After noticing your dog has eaten a tampon, you’ll want to contact your vet and watch your pooch closely (if you happen to catch him in the act, do everything you can to get him to drop it).

The blood won’t cause him any harm (he is, after all a carnivore), but the actual tampon – meaning the cotton fibers and string – can cause him to choke or suffer an intestinal blockage.

These types of blockages can prevent food, fluids, and gas from moving through your dog’s digestive tract. This can not only be excruciatingly painful, it can cut off the blood flow to parts of your dog’s esophagus, stomach or intestines (depending on where the obstruction occurs).

This can lead to necrosis (tissue death), which presents a litany of potential complications. In a worst-case scenario, obstructions can lead to death.

Blockages can take up to four days to trigger symptoms, so remain vigilant for several days following the incident.

Note that dogs may eat used or unused tampons, though the former seems to be more common. While that may make some owners squeamish, there is one thing to be thankful for if your dog eats a used (rather than unused) tampon: Used tampons are less likely to cause an intestinal obstruction than new tampons are.

This is because the blood present in a used tampon will cause the cotton to distend, while an unused tampon will swell more when it contacts your dog’s saliva and stomach acid.

Note that not all dogs become sick or require veterinary attention after eating a tampon. Some will pass it with no problem (just cross your fingers that he does so in private rather than at the dog park). But unfortunately, many dogs will suffer from problems after consuming a tampon.

The relative danger posed will depend on a number of different factors, including:

  • Your dog’s size. Larger dogs have larger intestinal tracts, so they can often pass tampons and other eaten items more easily than small dogs can. Point being, a tampon-eating pug is probably in more danger than a tampon-eating Great Dane is.
  • The contents of your dog’s digestive tract. The relative amount of water, fats, and fiber in your dog’s digestive tract can alter the speed at which it can pass through his digestive system.
  • The number of tampons he consumed. Obviously, a single tampon is more likely to pass through his intestines than a half-dozen will. This is why it is important to try to determine how many tampons your dog has eaten. If you aren’t sure how many were in the trashcan, you could count how many are remaining in the box to get an idea.

With any luck, your dog will pass the tampon through his body and you’ll simply have to deal with some strange-looking poops.

Troubling Symptoms Resulting From Tampon-Eating

You shouldn’t panic if your dog eats a used tampon – your dog certainly won’t be the first. Still, you must keep an eye out for a few symptoms that can indicate serious trouble.

Some of the most troubling symptoms include:

  • Lethargy
  • Intestinal disturbances
  • Nausea, vomiting or retching (dry-heaving)
  • Abdominal pain or swelling
  • Constipation
  • Disinterest in food
  • Depression
  • “Panicked” behavior
  • Unusual body postures

Any of these symptoms can indicate that your dog’s digestive tract has become blocked, or that the tampon’s string has entangled part of his intestines. Contact your vet immediately upon noticing any of these symptoms (even if you’ve already called once), and follow his or her directions.

dog eats tampon

What to Expect at the Vet When Your Dog Has Injested a Tampon

The treatment your dog receives will vary depending on his condition.

The first thing your vet will likely do is check your dog’s vitals and perform a basic examination. He or she will also ask you questions about your dog’s behavior and the timing of the ordeal.

Then, the vet will likely try to ascertain the location of the tampon (and anything else he may have eaten from the trashcan). This will usually begin with a quick peek inside your dog’s mouth – the tampon string may be stuck to your dog’s teeth, for example, which would make removal a bit simpler.

If the tampon isn’t visible in your pet’s mouth, your vet may use a tool called an endoscope (basically a long, flexible tube with a tiny camera at the end) to look down your dog’s throat. If this proves fruitless, your vet may order an X-ray to try to locate the tampon (technically, tampons don’t show up on X-rays, so your vet will actually look for trapped gas or food, which will indicate where the tampon is).

If your vet determines that the tampon was only eaten within the last hour or so and hasn’t passed very far along the digestive tract, he or she may administer an emetic – a drug that induces vomiting (don’t attempt to do this yourself without first consulting your vet).

If this works, your dog will likely barf up the tampon and recover fairly quickly. If however, the tampon has become stuck farther along the digestive tract, surgery may be required.

Why Do Dogs Eat Tampons (and Similar Sanitary Products)?

Because they are vampires.

Not really, but that would be a much more amusing explanation. The truth is actually pretty boring.

Dogs live in a different world than humans do. Whereas our perceptions are largely shaped and informed by visual stimuli, dogs live in a world full of odors and scents. Given that they have 50 times as many olfactory cells as we do, this is understandable.

So, when your dog gets bored or frustrated, he starts looking for something interesting. His nose naturally leads him to the bathroom trashcan and its bounty of bizarre odors.

Once muzzle-deep in the can, he seeks out the strongest and most interesting scent he can find – more often than not, this comes in the form of a used feminine hygiene product.

Tips and Tricks for Keeping Your Dog Out of the Bathroom Trashcan

If your dog likes to root through the bathroom trashcan, you’ll want to employ a few strategies to prevent the practice. While none of the following recommendations are foolproof, most will help keep your dog from eating things you’d rather he didn’t.

 Keep your bathroom shut. This is a really simple solution, although it isn’t always easy to get into the habit of keeping your bathroom door closed at all times.

 Spray a little dog repellent around the rim of the trashcan. Four Paws Keep Off! Spray is a good choice for these types of applications. You can also use spray-based behavior-correcting sprays if you catch your pooch in the act.

 Use a pet-proof trashcan. There are a variety of pet-proof trashcans on the market, which usually feature an automatically closing lid, which is difficult (if not impossible) for pets to lift. The simplehuman Trash Can is one of the best options available for bathroom use.

 Bag used tampons before discarding them. If you place used hygiene products (and anything else that may attract your dog’s attention) in a zipper-style plastic bag, your dog is much less likely to smell it.

***

Do you have a tampon-tasting dog? Have you figured out any way to discourage his habit?

Tell us all about your stories and experiences below!

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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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Courtney

My 90lb malamute ate 8 used tampons! We thought she’s ate 3 one night and didn’t know what to do. Just hoping it would pass bc the vet said just keep an eye on her. The next night she got in the trash can and ate another 3. This made us panic a lot and we called a different vet and they said we need to induce her vomiting w 3% hydrogen peroxide within the hour! We have her the recommended dosage and waited and nothing happened. Until 4am (8 hours later) she finally threw up and we found 8 total tampons!

Reply
Taylor

Hi Courtney! My dog ate a tampon just around 48 hours ago. She has never done this before, but she has eaten other things and passed them fine. I have not seen the tampon emerge yet. But she is pooping and acting totally normal (I’ve been feeding her extra to try and move things along.) You said you gave your pup the hydrogen peroxide and she puked them up even 48 hours later? My husband was home with her at the time and he didn’t do the hydrogen peroxide immediately so I feared it was too late. We are at 48 hours “post consumption” — do you think if I give her the hydrogen peroxide she could still throw up the tampon? Thanks!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Taylor.
We’d strongly urge caution here. It’s never a good idea to encourage vomiting without your vet’s advice and consent.
Best of luck with your pooch! Our fingers are crossed for you both!

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Erin

Hi! I have a 13 year old pug, this is the second time he has ate a tampon. The first was a few years ago and I didn’t even know he had ate one until he pooped it out. The second time was about a week and a half ago, I had the garbage can in the bathroom on a shelve and he somehow got it down and went through it. I assumed he would poop it out like he did last time so I have been diligently checking his poop. A couple of times I noticed some tampon string mixed in with his poop but no actual tampon yet. Last week he threw up in the morning and then he was outside today and ate some grass and upon coming in vomited some bile. He has still been eating and pooping regularly. Just not eating quite as much as he used to. But I am concerned that I haven’t seen the full tampon come out yet.

He also just recently finished a two week round of antibiotics for an Ear infection which I thought could have been the cause for his upset stomach last week.

Should I be worried still after this long? It’s expensive to take him to the vet if there is no need to. I just had a big vet bill just for an ear infection. However I don’t want him to suffer. Any advice would be helpful!!

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Erin.
Personally, I’d still be concerned if you haven’t seen the tampon emerge. It may be worth giving your vet a call and simply asking for his or her advice — that may save you from a potentially expensive visit.
Our fingers are crossed for your little guy!

Reply
Michael Ward

Thanks so much 4 the incredibly informative article. My daughter called me frantic and being able to give her sound advice was much appreciated. I especially thought it was relevant with the video.

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Ben Team

That’s great, Michael. Glad you found it helpful!

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Dog Backpack

Hi there to all, how is the whole thing, I think every one is getting more
from this site, and your views are nice for new viewers.

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B. Jordan

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your experiences in the comments!! My pocket-sized American Bully has tried to eat used tampons in the past and succeeded this morning. I was so panicked and decided to do the hydrogen peroxide method instead of wait to see if he would pass it on his own. Less than 5 minutes after drinking the hydrogen peroxide (on his own), he threw up the tampon, breakfast, and dinner from last night. Then, he threw up a little bit of bile twice within about a 10 minute span and was running around as normal after that. I’m so appreciative for the shares on this article!

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Ruby

My puppy ate my tampon and puked it up, is she ok? She is a four and half month old DDR German Shepherd puppy and is quite large. She seems to be acting normal.

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Ruby.
If she vomited the entire tampon back up and is acting normally, she’ll probably be fine. Just be sure to watch her closely and get over to your vet ASAP if she starts showing any troubling symptoms.

Reply
Kathy Gibson

My 40 pounder dog got in the trash and pulled a chicken stick (no chicken) out of the kitchen can. I didn’t know until this morning until I saw half of wooden stick on the floor. She is pacing constantly. I gave her half a senacot inside a piece of soft cheese. A few hours later, I gave her the other of the senacot. No results. I had hoped the medicine might soften up her stool and she would pass it. I gave her some rice and a few pieces of chicken. She isn’t acting like she is in pain and she is eating grass in the backyard. What do I do now?

Reply
Ben Team

Hey, Kathy. The pacing is pretty concerning. We’d recommend getting your vet on the phone ASAP.
Our fingers are crossed for you and your pooch!

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Ellz

I just want the whole world to know that my dog threw up the tampon!
I wasn’t sure if he even ate a tampon or not, and was about to just “see what happens”
But for some reason, something said give him a little bit of hydrogen peroxide and make him swallow a cap size. (Hes a 13 pound pikachone)
5 seconds after I shoved the liquid down his throat , he throws up the TAMPON immediately!
Plus the food he ate a few hours ealier.

If your dog ate a tampon, even if u just suspect. Shove hydrogen peroxide down their throat immidetly !

My stupid vet never answers the phone and she can go to hell. She just charges money and never is available.

Thank you internet !

This either saved me 5000$+ or worst !! My DOGS life !!

Hes 17 years old, and it was my first time having a used tampon in my trash. Never again.

Sorry for Michael about your little angel.

Reply
Ellie

Kevin*

Reply
Benjamin Team

Hey, Kevin. Sorry to hear about little Marilyn. But if you go back and look, the very first thing I said to do was to contact your vet.
Thanks for sharing your experiences, though!

Reply
Kevin M Scott

DO NOT WAIT to see if your dog will pass the tampon, that is straight BS. We waited to see if our dog would pass it like this site and many other sites. Long story short, we had to pay over $4,100+ for emergency surgery, and our sweet little Marilyn passed away. DO NOT WAIT!!! Take your dog straight to the ER. Also invest it pet insurance. May our little girl Marilyn rest in piece.

Reply
Renae H.

Kevin, I’m so sorry to hear about your Marilyn. Losing a dog suddenly can be so traumatizing. We have been there, and my heart goes out to you. I want to let you know that your post may have just saved our dog’s life. We wondered if we should wait for our Sutton to pass it or throw it up. I was googling, found your post, and said “Call the vet NOW.” They said to have her drink a half cup of hydrogen peroxide, which we had. She’s 35 pounds. She actually drank some of it, and some we had to pour down her throat. We spilled some so she didn’t even consume the entire half cup. In less than five minutes everything including breakfast from 4 hours earlier came up. This was all within 25 minutes of her swallowing it. She continued to throw up bile quite a bit for an hour or so. Then she pooped and she’s been sleeping since. We are supposed to wait 3-4 hours since her last vomit to feed her or give her water, then she gets ground beef and white rice. I’m pretty sure she’s in the clear. We’re feeling pretty grateful right now, and I hope you know how much you helped. Best wishes.

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Cassandra

Thank you so much for your story, I was gonna wait it out like article but the comments made me want to move fast. I called two diff. vets & was told to bring my dog in.. so I decided on the hydrogen perixode method for financial reasons. I have a one year old corgi & we probably gave her less than half a cup through a small push syringe thing. It was around 30 mins or less of her eating it and she threw up less than five minutes after taking the syringe. The tampon came out immediately and she had some small throw ups come out a few times after. She’s sleeping now and we plan to feed her with the 3-4 window.

Reply
Allie

Exactly! And thanks for saying so, don’t wait. I saved my dogs life today! Gave the couple teaspoons of peroxide with water and bread and it did the trick. Once I seen the size of the obstruction I am glad I acted quickly and didn’t wait.

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