If your dog ate a sponge, keep an eye on them for a few days. They should be fine if they only ate a small piece. However, a whole sponge could cause bowel obstruction, choking, or digestive issues. Call your veterinarian just to be safe.
We’ve all had it happen: you leave your dog alone for a little too long, or you don’t pay quite enough attention to your pup’s behavior, and it results in some sort of disaster. Sometimes, even the tamest and common household items are alluring to our furry friends.
What are you supposed to do if your dog has taken too much interest and eaten a sponge? Perhaps the fluorescent color or fun and unusual texture confused your dog into thinking it was the latest and greatest chew toy, or maybe they’re just a little mischievous.
Whatever the reason, there are a few things you need to consider regarding what to do next.
Is My Dog Choking?
While this may seem obvious, your primary concern should be if your dog appears to be choking or struggling to breathe.
Coughing and wheezing are often the first signs of a full or partial respiratory blockage, followed by gagging, excessive drooling, and pawing at their face. If your dog exhibits any of these signs, check its mouth immediately.
Carefully try to remove the blockage with your hand if you can see it. The Heimlich maneuver is also an option if you cannot get the sponge out with your hand.
It is of the utmost importance that you restore proper breathing to your dog and get them to a vet as soon as possible. Even if you could improve breathing quickly, any lack of oxygen can be harmful. It’s best to get your pup checked out just to be safe.
Vomiting immediately after consuming the sponge may be scary for the owner, but it’s likely a good thing. As a natural bodily process, your dog is simply trying to rid itself of the sponge.
If they can expel the sponge on their own, you’re in the clear, but it’s important that they don’t aspirate while vomiting. Keep in mind that getting rid of the sponge through vomiting will only be possible immediately after consuming the sponge.
Once you’ve made sure your dog isn’t actively choking, it’s time to consider other situational factors that can affect your course of action.
Consider The Size of Your Dog
If you think your dog has eaten a large piece of a sponge, you’re probably curious about what will happen next. Even if your dog is currently acting normal, they may still struggle in some capacity with the sponge.
While a small amount will probably not be harmful, ingestion of any foreign object isn’t one size fits all. It’s important to consider how large your dog is and how much they consumed.
If you have a larger dog and it appears they have only nibbled on a tiny piece, it’s likely they will simply pass the sponge in their stool without issue. If your dog is smaller, or if the size of the sponge consumed was large, it may be appropriate to take additional steps with the vet.
What Was The Sponge Used For?
Another important caveat to consider is if your sponge has been used with a toxin that may be poisonous to dogs.
Not all sponges are created equal, and many have different uses determined by their size, shape, and material.
It’s necessary to consider the material that the sponge is made of and if it has had any product used with it. For example, if the sponge that was eaten is what you normally use for washing dishes and you know you used specific dish soap, it will be important to identify the ingredients within the soap.
While anything that isn’t naturally edible should be avoided, some specific and very serious ingredients to look out for are ammonia, bleach, formaldehyde, and glycol.
This list is not exhaustive, but these are examples of highly toxic ingredients that will require immediate medical intervention. When in doubt, contact your vet with questions about any questionable ingredients.
How Can I Help My Dog Pass The Sponge?
If you’ve determined that a vet visit isn’t necessary and you’ve decided to wait this out at home, the next important step will be helping the sponge pass through your dog’s digestive system.
As mentioned, a small piece relative to a dog’s size will probably not cause any problems. If the sponge is larger, it could create an intestinal blockage.
This is possible with any foreign object that your dog ate, but a sponge is extra tricky because its nature is to expand with liquid. As the sponge passes through your dog, it may expand with stomach acid and other fluids to create a partial or full blockage.
One thing you can do from home is to focus on what you’re feeding your dog. Food high in fiber can help the sponge pass through the digestive tract.
Some examples of yummy treats with a great fiber content are pumpkin, apples, brown rice, and berries. These foods will bulk the stool and push against the sponge to help it move.
Fiber is a necessary part of your pup’s diet, but will be especially important after eating the sponge. Keep an eye on your dog’s stool for a few days to make sure the sponge passes.
My Dog Seems Okay, What’s Next?
As long as your dog isn’t choking, you know they didn’t ingest any harmful chemicals, and the sponge eaten was small, it’s reasonable to expect them to be fine.
Even if that’s the case, it’s imperative to keep an eye on them for the next few days, specifically for an intestinal blockage. You know your dog better than anyone, so you will be the best judge if something goes wrong.
Abdominal pain is a sign of blockage. Since your dog can’t verbalize their pain, pay extra close attention to them.
Lethargy and irritability may be signs your dog isn’t feeling well. Constipation, very watery diarrhea, and vomiting also allude to a blockage.
If your dog vomits or acts overly lethargic, getting them checked by a vet is important. This may not happen immediately after eating the sponge, so continue monitoring your pup and their behavior until you’re confident the sponge has passed.
Tips to Avoid Sponge Eating
This probably wasn’t your dog’s first time getting into something they shouldn’t have, and unfortunately, it will probably not be the last.
If your dog has figured out where you keep the sponges, it may be time for a new hiding place. If they have mistaken it for a toy, it will be difficult to keep them from wanting the sponge again, especially if they have ready access to it in a place like on the kitchen counter or in the laundry room.
If a kitchen sponge is the issue, invest in a sink caddy that can hold your sponge within the sink and out of the eyes of your dog, or place them on a higher shelf in a closed cabinet.
For makeup sponges, keep them in a drawer or bag. Dogs are curious and creative. The more out of reach the item is, the better.
If you are looking for an extra step to protect your pup, consider switching to non-toxic cleaning supplies. This will ensure that if you have another sponge-eating accident, you won’t have to worry about a poisonous chemical and can just be concerned about digestion.
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