My Dog Ate a Candle: Should I Be Concerned?

If your dog ate a candle, the biggest danger is a bowel obstruction. The wax, wick, and metal base of the candle can all cause a bowel obstruction. Monitor your dog for the next few days. If they become constipated or lethargic, it’s time for a trip to the vet.

It is never easy to know what to do when your dog has eaten something they are not supposed to eat. Many dogs eat anything they find on the floor. Some items are more problematic than others. Candles, especially ones that smell good, could easily attract a furry friend.

But what should you do if your dog has eaten a candle? Should you take them to the vet? Will they be ok?

Dangers of Candles

While candles are not toxic to dogs, some have ingredients that may cause harm if ingested. Always use candles in a well-ventilated area and make sure they are out of reach of your dog. It is also a good idea to look at the ingredients before buying a candle. You want to make sure nothing would harm your dog if they managed to eat it (more on that below).

Harmful Chemicals/Scent

Candles are usually made of paraffin, soy, or beeswax. None of these are harmful to your dog unless they have allergies.

Plain, unscented candles are unlikely to cause anything but an upset tummy (since they don’t cause an obstruction).

The biggest issue is the toxicity of the ingredients in scented candles. Scented candles most likely do not have a large enough amount to do actual harm, but there is still a risk. This is especially true for candles that are infused with oils. Essential oils are highly concentrated, and the amount used in a whole candle COULD cause some issues, but it’s unlikely.

The most common oils in candles that can harm your dog include tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and basil oil.

Choking/Obstruction

A good-smelling candle can attract a dog. However, because candles are not meant to be eaten, your dog might not be able to properly break it down, causing them to choke.

Unscented wax is usually malleable enough for your dog to pass with no severe issues (other than possible diarrhea).

However, paraffin and soy wax are both very hard for your dog’s digestive system to break down. Be sure to monitor your dog over the next 24 hours to ensure the candle passes. If the candle does not pass, your dog may have an obstruction.

Signs of choking include coughing and seeming frantic. Your dog might paw at its face or be having trouble breathing. If they are choking, call an emergency veterinarian immediately.

Wick

The wick is very dangerous to consume, especially if it is a larger candle. Not only can your dog choke on the wick, but it’s likely to cause an obstruction. This is especially true if your dog consumed the metal base of the wick as well.

However, if your dog consumes a cotton wick, the chances of obstruction go down significantly.

Metal

The most dangerous part of the candle is the metal. In tea lights, this includes the wrapper and the base of the wick, which is small, circular, and usually stiffer metal than the wrapper. These could cause damage to your dog’s intestines.

One candle probably won’t cause much of an issue, but if your dog has consumed multiple candles, the risk is more significant. Your dog’s intestines may contain a lot of metal. The bigger your dog is, the greater the chance they’ll be able to digest it without any issue.

What to Do?

So your dog has eaten a candle, and you have evaluated the dangers. Where do you go from here?

Observe Your Dog

Monitor your dog throughout the day to make sure they are acting normal. You know your dog well enough to see if there is any difference in their behavior. Any significant shift in how they act could be a sign of internal distress, but there are a few specific signs that you should watch out for.

Things to Lookout For

  • Choking and coughing
  • Signs of digestive problems, like vomiting, especially right after eating
  • Not wanting to eat or drink
  • Lethargy and weakness
  • Bloating or excessive gassiness
  • Whimpering, whining, or any other signs that your pup is in pain

Is Your Dog Having Problems?

If your dog is having issues, call your vet immediately.

If they are choking, check inside their mouth and see if anything is clearly lodged in there. Try to get it out if you can, or perform the Heimlich maneuver (the vet can walk you through it).

Even if you get the candle out, your dog needs to be seen by a vet ASAP. There might be some damage to the inside of your dog’s throat. The vet will examine your dog to make sure there are no lasting issues.

Does Your Dog Seem Fine?

Call the candle manufacturer (or do a quick search for that specific candle) and double-check the ingredients to make sure there are no toxic chemicals. If there are, contact your veterinarian. They will give your dog a laxative to help pass the candle before the chemicals cause damage.

If the candle is scented, keep an eye on your dog for the next few days. Watch out for the symptoms outlined above, but especially constipation and lethargy. These might be signs of a blockage in your dog’s digestive system.

Being a Wise Dog Parent

Make sure to always read the ingredients of products that you bring into your home. Soy and beeswax candles are the least toxic to dogs. Unscented candles are the safest bet, unless you carefully evaluate the scented ingredients. You want your dog to be safe and comfortable at all times.

If your dog eats a candle, evaluate the ingredients and the state of your dog. Observe your dog for symptoms of a larger problem, even if it seems like they are fine.

Going forward, make sure that you use a candle in a well-ventilated space. Do not place the candle close to your dog’s food or water, as that might make them more likely to eat it. Do not leave candles out or within reach when your dog is unattended.

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