My Dog Ate Dental Floss – Should I be worried?

By Kevin Myers | 2020 Update

Here’s the truth:

Dogs investigate with their noses and their mouths, and as a result, they often swallow things that aren’t meant for them.

Foreign bodies can pose a serious threat to your dog’s health. Even something seemingly benign as dental floss.

So what should you do if your dog eats dental floss? Dental floss is mostly harmless to dogs if it’s shorter than four inches in length. However, a long string of floss could tie up your dog’s intestines, leading to intestinal obstruction and possibly a painful death if not treated immediately.

But what if you’re not sure how much floss your dog ate? What symptoms should you look for?

To find the answers, keep reading!

Should You Be Worried If Your Dog Ate Floss?

So your dog just ate some floss right in front of you. Or maybe you just came home and found your box of floss chewed up and empty. Should you be worried?

Yes and No. Dental floss of itself is not poisonous. It’s made of nylon and can easily pass through your dog’s digestive system, that is, if it doesn’t get dissolved by your dog’s stomach acid.

But that’s based on the assumption that the floss was shorter than four inches. Pieces of floss longer than four inches can pose a significant threat to your dog.

If you’re sure that your dog didn’t get a hold of too much floss, you’reprobably okay. Your dog should pass the floss in its stoolwithin a few days without repercussion. 

However, if you find the whole spool of floss empty, you should immediately take your dog to the veterinarian. Floss can tie up your dog’s intestines and cause a fatal obstruction, which can quickly turn into necrosis, and the significance of the damage can lead to death.

You can implement a few techniques to figure out whether your dog is at risk or not. And there are some steps you can take to prevent this from happening in the first place.

What To Do After Your Dog Eats Floss

Your first action after confirming your dog has eaten floss should be figuring out how much floss they ate and of what length. If your dog managed to get a hold of a used piece of floss from the garbage, it probably wouldn’t be long enough to cause any major issue.

However, if you think your dog ingested a longer piece, you can try to induce vomiting.

Inducing Vomiting In Dogs

Vomiting is the only technique you can try yourself to prevent a trip to the Emergency Vet. If the floss bundled up into a ball in your dog’s stomach, they can vomit it out.

But for this technique to be successful, you have to be quick. You have about 2 hours since the time your dog ate floss before it makes it down to the intestines.

You have two options here; induce vomiting on your own at home, or let a vet do the procedure. While the whole process isn’t too complicated, we highly recommend taking your dog a veterinarian if you haven’t induced vomiting in your dog before.

Because complications can also arise from making your dog vomit, it’s best to be thoroughly familiar with the process and have some first-hand experience.

However, in a situation where you don’t think you could make it to the vet in time, or have induced vomiting before, you could try and do the procedure yourself.

Steps to induce vomiting in dogs

Before you attempt to induce vomiting, try to make sure your dog has some food in their system. If they don’t, feed them a small meal to make it easier for them to throw up. We also recommend having a veterinarian or some other knowledgeable person on the phone.

1. Take 3% Hydrogen Peroxide Solution: Use a 3% Hydrogen Peroxide solution to induce vomiting. Hydrogen peroxide irritates the dog’s stomach by causing bubbling and eventually leads to vomiting.

2. Collect the right dosage: The recommended dosage for dogs is one teaspoon of 3% Hydrogen peroxide per 5 pounds of bodyweight. The maximum amount of peroxide to be administered for dogs is three tablespoons.

3. Feed your dog the peroxide solution: Once you’ve found out how much peroxide you need to administer, take a turkey baster or syringe, and fill it up with the peroxide. Open your dog’s mouth, and gently squirt the solution towards their cheek near their back teeth or the back of their mouth. Do not aggressively squirt the solution as your dog could inhale the peroxide.

4. Take your dog to a bathroom: While it may take your dog up to 15 minutes to throw up, take them to a bathroom or any place that’s easy to clean. We recommend having a tray in which your dog can vomit; otherwise, a hard surface will also do.

5. Examine your dog’s vomit: After your dog starts vomiting, use a stick or rod to inspect the vomit for floss. Dogs usually vomit out 50% of their stomach content this way and might vomit more than once. So be sure to check whether the floss has come out or not.

6. Check with your vet: Go to see your vet after about 45 minutes of feeding your dog the peroxide solution. If your dog did manage to throw up the floss, your vet would give them a few medicines to clear out any remaining foreign body. But if the floss is still in their system, your vet will decide the next course of action after taking a few tests.

Preventing Your Dog From Eating Floss

When dogs eat something that they’re not supposed to, it can be frightening. Dental floss has been known to cause fatalities before and can put your dog’s life in jeopardy if consumed.

It’s your responsibility to remove anything from your dog’s path that can cause them harm. And the first step to do this is by arranging a good garbage disposal system that prevents your dog from scavenging through it.

Items like dental floss and strings used to tie meat are a primary target for dogs. Since they smell like mint and meat, your dog’s sense of smell will often guide them towards consuming these things.  

Therefore, it’s your responsibility to safely dispose of these items, away from your dog’s reach. Dispose of everything you suspect your dog might try to eat in a separate container that’s hard to reach.

Another tip is to store anything you suspect your dog might try to investigate in a safe compartment such as a high shelf or cupboard. If you casually place your floss on the sofa or coffee table, your dog is bound to investigate and possibly consume it.

FAQ’s

What are the symptoms of dental floss ingestion?

If your dog ate dental floss, they would exhibit symptoms like abdominal pain, loss of appetite and difficulty defecating. All of these signs are a major red flag and should be looked at by a vet immediately.

How long does it take for a dog to digest something?

It takes about 10-24 hours for any item to pass through a dog’s digestive system, from the moment they eat something to the time they poop it out.

Is thread dangerous for dogs to consume?

Yes, thread poses the same health hazard as dental floss. It has the potential to tie up the dog’s intestine, possibly leading to death.

How long does a dog with intestinal obstruction survive?

For a complete obstruction, it may only take a dog 3-4 days to die. However, with partial obstruction, your dog will gradually lose weight and die within about 3-4 weeks.

How much does an intestinal obstruction surgery cost?

An intestinal surgery to remove obstruction costs anywhere between $1,000 – $3,000 depending.

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